Editor’s Note: This sponsored post is courtesy of MTB Home.
With upwards of 750 miles of amazing mountain biking trails in the greater Gunnison-Crested Butte area, the only way to truly take it all in is pack up the U-Haul and move here. But assuming full family relocation is not in the cards, here’s our take on the ultimate mountain bike (long) weekend in one of the birthplace’s of the sport.
No. 1 — if you’re planning to come this summer (and you really should), target your trip around the first annual Outerbike Crested Butte consumer demo event, August 18-20 at Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s Evolution Bike Park, which boasts 29 trails and 1000 feet of vertical drop. For three days you’ll have unlimited access to some of the hottest bikes on the market, including top offerings from Specialized, Giant, Pivot, Yeti, Evil, Rocky Mountain, Canfield Brothers, Canyon, Orbea, Fezzari, and more.
Learn more about the Outerbike experience here.
The bike park’s terrain ranges from beginner friendly runs such Hotdogger and Down Time, to moderate challenges like Luge and Teaser, to the full DH gnar of Boulder Mason, Psycho Rocks, and Captain Jacks. Most importantly, though, the chairlift-assisted demo format is a great way to do repetitive comparison laps on different bikes so you can figure out which is the next right bike for you. Because we all need a new bike, right?
You’ll also have the chance to get a taste of the e-bike experience, as the event has been granted a special-use permit to ride these electric powered two wheelers at the resort. Race the chairlift to the top — or better yet, take a leisurely spin up to the Umbrella Bar, which has spectacular 360-degree views and a tasty line-up of Bavarian beers and brats.
Starting your day on the Red Lady chairlift is also a great way to kick start what the locals like to call chairlift-assisted XC riding. That way you take a little sting out of the fact that the resort’s base area is at 9115 feet (most rides in the upper valley go even higher than that). One great option after getting off the chair is to drop down the backside of the mountain on intermediate rated Meander, then hook up with the Snodgrass trail, which dances its way through a sprawling Aspen groove. From there you can hit the Lupine Trail, then spin into the town of Crested Butte and either climb back up to the resort via Tony’s, Upper, and the Happy Hour trail, or jump on paved bike path or free shuttle bus, which has bike racks and runs every 20 minutes from 7:35 a.m. to midnight all summer. (Just note that Snodgrass, which is on private land, typically closes for the season on or around August 21, meaning you may not be able to ride it after Outerbike weekend.)
Of course there are also tons of trails outside the bike park, which means you better plan on getting here a few days before Outerbike — or staying a few days afterwards. Our personal top 5 trails in no particular order are the 403+401 combo, Doctor Park, Waterfall Creek, Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman’s, and Teocalli Ridge. They’re all XC-style rides with a little gnar here and there just to keep things interesting. And if you can swing it, also plan to spend at least a half day at Gunnison’s amazing high desert Hartman Rocks trail system. It’s just 30 minutes from Crested Butte, but offers a completely different riding experience that ranges from smooth and mellow to technical and rocky.
For a deep dive into your riding options, pick up a copy of local author Holly Annala’s comprehensive Mountain Bike Crested Butte, Gunnison, and Salida Singletrack guidebook. Also check out the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association’s website, which features detailed trail/ride descriptions, as well as updated trail conditions. For digital Hartman Rocks beta visit gunnisontrails.org. And if you like digital maps that you can view on your phone (who doesn’t?) CBGTrails has you covered. Make sure to download the app for Android and iOS.
Not surprisingly Crested Butte and Gunnsion have a bevy of great bike shops that can handle all your service needs — or rent you a quality bike if you’d rather not travel with your personal rig. At Crested Butte Mountain Resort, the Evolution Bike Shop has you covered with a full rental fleet of Scott Bikes ranging from XC to downhill and even electric. In Crested Butte, stop by the Alpineer, which has rentals from Trek, Santa Cruz, and Yeti. Or head over to Big Al’s Bicycle Heaven, whose rental fleet includes trail tamers from Kona, Rocky Mountain, and Devinci. In Gunnsion, check out Double Shot Cyclery, Rock and Roll Sports, and Tomichi Cycles.
When riding is done it’s time for a little rehydration (and maybe a few adult beverages). Sign up for Outerbike and you’ll get access to nightly parties and lots of free beer up at the resort. When you roll from the resort down to town (which can be accessed via the free shuttle or a scenic bike path), start your evening at the Brick Oven Pizzeria and Pub in the heart of downtown on Elk Avenue. Besides good eats, the establishment that’s primary sponsor of one of the local bike teams has upwards of 30 beers on tap plus a slew of other options in bottle form. You can see the full beer menu here.
Just next door is the famed Eldo, with its tongue-in-cheek motto, “A sunny place for shady people.” There’s live music here all summer long. Other great options for food and drink include the Secret Stash for tasty pizza, Ginger Café for Pan-Asian cuisine, and Teocalli Tamale for great Mexican fare.
Finally, at same point you’re going to have to go to bed, because you gotta rest to ride hard the next day. The local tourism association has an excellent lodging planning portal that can serve as starting place for your search. Superb on-mountain options include the Elevation Hotel & Spa, Grand Lodge and the Lodge at Mountaineers Square. In town check out the Old Town Inn, Cristiana Guesthaus, and the Elk Mountain Lodge, which is run by the same people who operate the local not-for-profit Crested Butte Devo youth MTB development foundation.
Now that you have all this beta in hand, it’s time to start planning. Those 750 miles of amazing trails aren’t going to ride themselves.