Spend a stormy weekend in the one of the birthplaces of mountain biking, and you feel reborn.
Crested Butte, Colorado: A small mining town turned ski mountain mecca, wrapped in trails with a wildflower bow. It’s considered by many to be one of the birthplaces of mountain biking.
According to legend, a group of ambitious Crested Butte bicyclers wanted to one-up a group of Aspen motorcyclists who were keen on riding over the demanding Pearl Pass separating the then-humble villas in the Elk Mountains. The Crested Butte gang decided they’d pedal over to Aspen, and so they did, on the best banana seated, balloon-tired bikes the 1970s had to offer.
The following year, 1976 or so, a like-minded group of cyclists from California came to participate, and just like that a tradition was born. The Pearl Pass ride continues today.
With 700 miles of trails winding out from this historic mountain mining community in the heart of the Elk Mountains, it’s no surprise that Crested Butte is a world-class mountain biking destination.
We stopped at Big Al’s Bicycle Haven in downtown Crested Butte to get the low down on biking in Crested Butte.
“We have a huge cycling culture here that visitors are fascinated by,” said Big Al herself, a petite woman with a giant fervor for trail. “In a word, it’s epic.”
That’s all we needed to hear.
Here are a few of our favorite mountain biking trails to check out.
Who: Locals before or after work; Visitors on a time crunch.
What: Quick access hit with a dose of sweetness that lasts all day.
When: April through October
Where: Take Gothic Road 2.4 miles north from downtown Crested Butte toward the ski area, turning left (west) at Saddle Ridge Ranch. Find the trail head in the cul-de-sac and drop in to dirt. Pick up the Upper Lower Loop Trail and make your way back to town.
Why: In town these super fun few miles of trail offer rolling singletrack in and out of aspen patches and eventually over the Slate River where a few options emerge to bring you back to downtown Crested Butte.
Super fun, fast, frolicking frills.
Who: Singletrack aficionados.
What: Rewarding 5-mile singletrack with a mix of climbing and descending.
When: May through October
Where: From town, head south on CO State Highway 135 then left on CR 738/Brush Creek Road. About 3.5 miles out, Farris Creek Road climbs up a hill to the right over a gate. Less than a mile up the climb is a marked a trail intersection to Strand. Follow the trail markers over ripping singletrack through dense aspen forest trails.
Why: Riding from town this is a full value cross-country ride into the legendary aspen forests of Crested Butte. From the trail head, it’s a stellar singletrack ride with a deep woods feel that gives mad bang for the buck.
Teocali Mountain Trail
Who: Sadomasochists, enduro riders, cross country grinders and intermediate to expert riders looking for a solid outing.
What: 12 mile, big mountain riding. Six miles up, 6 miles down. Amazing views, newer trail, berms, switchbacks and drops.
When: June through October.
Where: From town take CO State Highway 135 south for 2 miles, turning left of CR 738/Brush Creek Road. The road becomes dirt and passes Strand Hill through Brush Creek to Pearl Pass Road.
Why: This daunting ride has all the makings of a classic: Demanding climbs, creek crossings, old growth forests, Rocky Mountain views, cliffhangers and long stretches of hilarious downhills.