10 trails to ride while you’re here
We checked in with Dave Ochs, director of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA), for his suggestions when heading into the hills on your bike. What he came up with is just the tip of the iceberg for the riding in the Crested Butte area and includes a couple of trails recently added to the expansive system. To get more information on all of the local mountain bike trails check out cbmba.org.
This is an all-time classic beginner ride and a great way to test the waters of mountain biking, just on the outskirts of town. It offers both singletrack and a wide path option for a section of the trail and numerous splits to join other trails. Best part is it contours alongside the Slate River. Great option for kids too!
Upper Cement Creek Trail
Looking for an easier trail experience but away from the crowds? Look to County/FS Road #740 aka Cement Creek Road just seven miles south of Crested Butte. Park seven miles up at the Deadman Trailhead and start riding up Cement Creek Road until you meet the Upper Cement Creek Trail at the start of the first big switchback. A little technical at first, this trail quickly opens up into the beautiful Upper Cement Valley floor for more beginner style riding. Out and back or loop with the road if you’re up for crossing Cement Creek.
Kebler Wagon Trail
Starting up near the Kebler “Y”, seven miles west of town, hop on the Wagon Trail that parallels Kebler Pass Road and goes downhill the majority of the way, with a small climb or two here and there towards the end. The very end of the trail is a wee bit technical, but a good way to check your speed before it empties onto Kebler Pass Road for a downhill finish back into town.
Lupine 1 and 2
These two trails provide a great loop on the outskirts of town with incredible views up the Slate River Valley. Starting from town, head up the Rec. Path or Gothic Road towards the town of Mt. Crested Butte/ski area. About a mile up the path/road, you’ll take a left onto a road marked Saddle Ridge by a sign over the road. Pedal to the top of Saddle Ridge Road where the singletrack begins at the end of the cul-de-sac. About 1/4 mile more of climbing and you’re at your first summit! Please don’t park or shuttle to Saddle Ridge Road.
Lupine 1 then rolls through the aspens and lupines (duh!) along Smith Hill before descending fun, swooping switchbacks to a doubletrack dirt road. Head up the dirt road and stay on it until you see Lupine 2 peeling off to the left, just after you get into the trees. This descent takes the Lupine 1 downhill up a notch and offers a great way to stretch your downhill skills.
Aka Lando Calrissian, you reach this trail by riding Lupine 1 and then up the doubletrack dirt road 1.8 miles past the start of Lupine 2. This trail starts on the left and the 1.92-mile descent is filled with turns, berms, and switchbacks. There’s a brief climb in the middle that’s sure to make the legs sting a bit, but then it’s downhill to Slate River Road.
Canal, Strand Bonus, Strand Hill
Looking for a bigger loop to get your classic CB kicks on? This ride has technical sections that make it a bit more advanced intermediate. Park at the Brush Creek Trailhead on County/FS Road #738 just 4 miles south of Town, enjoy the scenery and Elk Mountain backdrop as you ride the road to the start of the Canal Trail 1.5 miles from the Trailhead. The first short climb on Canal is daunting but the trail mellows out with some flowing, fun, fast track. Take a right onto the Bonus Trail, climb up Strand Hill Road, then down Strand Hill for one of the most classic bits of single track CB has in the backyard. Back down the Canal for a fast and fun finish.
Middle Cement Creek Trail (aka – Stumpjumper)
The newest trail to the mix, CBMBA finished this beauty in the Fall of 2019 to help get riders (users) off the road, create better trail connectivity within the existing network, and provide a new loop opportunity that is essentially the CB South ‘lunch ride’. Head up Lower Cement Creek Trail to avoid the busy, dusty road, then up Walrod road to the top, turn right on Warm Springs trail, then right again on the new Middle Cement Creek Trail. Hit ‘the Stump’ if so inclined, but enjoy the views before the rocky, more technical finish, and then a fast, fun cruise back home via Lower Cement Creek Trail.
Gut Check (A.K.A Advanced)
This one is a time-honored test of will that got a face-lift several years ago, making the descent one of the best in the area. It’s a stinger climb but well worth it as the top of the trail offers the best place to stop for views and a refuel. To reach the trail, head out Brush Creek Road and make sure you stay left at the first road junction where the sign points right to Pearl Pass and East Brush Creek. At the second junction/sign, stay right on West Brush Creek Road. (The Deer Creek trail goes left.) Ride out two more miles of beautiful doubletrack, cross a big creek, and start climbing. The road eventually tops out in a small open area where you will find the singletrack climb to the ridge. At the ridge, bang a right for more climbing (you do have to work for this one) until you hit the ultimate lunch spot. Then it’s all incredible downhill from there.
Baxter Gulch, Carbon Creek, Green Lake Trail
Baxter Gulch is another relatively new addition to the local trail system, and this combo with Carbon Creek and the Green Lake trail is door-to-door goodness right from town, though not for the faint of heart. Head up the road out of town (toward Gunnison) and look for the Baxter Gulch trailhead on the right at the top of the hill. From there it’s all singletrack all the way back to town with plenty of climbing, contouring and descending.
At the end of Baxter Gulch trail, take a right onto Carbon Creek trail, which takes you deep in the timber below Axtell Mountain until you hit the Green Lake trail where you take a right and drop straight into town. If you aren’t up for the whole loop and want some sweet downhill, turn around at the top of Baxter Gulch Trail and return the way you came.
Aka 804 (do the math). This features more new trail built by the folks at CBMBA and their legions of volunteers. It’s pretty simple: ride all the way up Washington Gulch through Elkton and start descending on the road until you see the new section of trail on the right. This is where the singletrack climb begins and takes you to the second best lunch spot on the local trails.
Drop down to the Gothic Valley floor and then turn left to head up to the top of Schofield Pass where you will find the start of 401, the all time, world-renowned mountain bike ride featuring a long, fast descent complete with wildflowers whacking your handlebars. Stop in Gothic for coffee, ice cream and/or some science before you head back to town.