March 16, 2021
Crested Butte’s very serious ski resort turns Mountain Biker’s paradise in the Summer
Crested Butte is Colorado’s “ most serious ski resort” during the snowy months of the year. But when the slopes thaw, sweeping loops of singletrack are revealed. Summertime in Crested Butte is for exploring the Mountain Bike Trails. In warmer temperatures, it’s easy to see how this area has been nicknamed the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado.” Our 5 day Singletrack Mountain Bike Tour touches on the best of what Crested Butte has to offer thrill-seekers in the Summer months. This tour is a bit more technical, recommended for mountain bikers with a little experience under their belt. If you think you’re down for the challenge, check out the day-to-day breakdown below!
Day 1: Meet in Gunnison, south of Aspen, at Colorado’s western mid-latitudes. We shuttle north to Crested Butte (pop. 1487; elev. 8885-ft). Occupying less than one square-mile, this 19th century mining town turned Colorado’s last great ski town is tucked immaculately into a broad valley. Passing the brightly colored Victorian homes, we find the modern beautiful Grand Lodge Resort, our base for the next five days.* After a fuel-up lunch, we take in a brief walking tour of the accommodations, as well as the adjacent Wildflower Spa (Crested Butte is, by the way, Colorado’s wildflower capital.) Swapping traveling clothes for riding gear we mount up, kicking if off with a close-to-town first ride. Dissolving into thick aspen groves, dabbed and broad-stroked by a riot of wildflowers. Surfing the wildly varied and huge blooms that crowd, or occasionally cloud the trail, our route into the 1.6-million acre Gunnison National Forest closes out near Bush Creek trailhead depending on the route we choose. Nonetheless you might be convinced we’ve ridden straight into a classic Coors commercial: jutting 12K peaks peering down on big valleys, girded by gently rolling hills. In relative terms, today’s ride is a Viking River Cruise compared to the majority of Crested Butte’s 750-miles of bike trails. Expect unparalleled view finding of 12,162-ft Mt. Crested Butte, only three miles from town. The trail further showcases the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness to the north, thick with moose, elk, deer and Black bear.
Day 2: Before the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame moved to Fairfax, CA it was based here. Now if there was a consensus choice amongst those who visited the HoF, the majority would call today’s ride not just the best in Crested Butte… but the best in Colorado. You will ascend through thick aspen groves, cross over a stream, climb a bit more and be rewarded with beautiful views. To the east loom the Elk Mountains and the surrounding Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness. Spanning 181,535-acres, Maroon Bells can claim no less than six of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners: peak speak for 14,000-ft summits. Descending atop beautifully buff singletrack, you quickly begin to understand why Crested Butte is known as offering some of the best high-altitude riding in the world. You can’t help but get your smile on, sweeping through brimming fields of wildflowers between expansive aspen groves. On a long descent, try not to get mesmerized by the kaleidoscopic rays of sunlight filtered by the aspen’s flitting and fluttering leaves.
Day 3: Today we stage at the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Park, accommodating every type of rider. Like a Baskin-Robbins for the fat tire set, Evolution features 30-miles of downhill and cross-country trails, a skills zone, a dual slalom course, plus any number of both natural and man-made obstacles. Tonight, we share our respective anecdotes and the day’s highlights over a terrific meal at Crested Buttes’ best brewery, Elk Avenue.
Day 4: Think of our penultimate Crested Butte ride as an XL pizza with the works. Bearing more names than a high-end law firm, the Reno Flag Bear Deadman’s extends 22-miles. Profiled by 2700-ft of elevation gain, today’s route links the Reno Divide with the Flag and Bear Creek trails. In figurative terms, expect nothing less than a classic; feature rich, and as buff as it gets. Set amidst the stunning Cement Creek area, a succession of big climbs give way to an equal number of superb downhill stretches. Fans of multiple plot twists will adore the final act: a descent comprising no less than 28 switchbacks, culminating at Deadman’s Gulch.
Day 5: Epic is the only way to describe our finale. Fast, flowy and full of variety, the Teocalli Ridge Loop trail is a favorite amongst Crested Butte locals. No more so than during autumn months when the aspens turn, the landscape seemingly paint-balled in sunny yellows, rich reds, and whimsical oranges. Measuring 23-miles end-to-end, Doctor Park kicks off at a heady 10,090-ft. Climbing 2100-ft., with an attendant 2100-ft of downhill, Teocalli Ridge is predisposed to some technical moments. A few high ridgelines with exposure, bookended by big, embracing meadows and dense forest further distinguish it. By virtue of Teocalli’s connection to Crested Butte’s trail network, we can also add extra miles if you haven’t had enough Rocky Mountain High. Finishing with a trailside lunch, we shuttle back to Gunnison.