Editor’s Note: This sponsored post is courtesy of MTB Home.
Surely you have heard the refrain. If you like riding mountain bikes even just a little, then Crested Butte deserves inclusion on your list of must-hit places to visit. But people say that same thing about lots of locales, making it hard to really know the difference from one to the next. That’s why Mtbr decided to compile this Top 5 list, outlining the concrete reasons why this rustic mountain town set high in the Colorado Rockies is truly worthy of inclusion on your personal bucket list. Here then is our ode to Crested Butte mountain biking.
1. Trails, trails, and more trails
Spread between Gunnison to the south and Crested Butte to the north are upwards of 750 miles of amazing and varied singletrack. Highlights include Gunnison’s Hartman Rocks Recreation Area, with its sprawling web of high desert trail (40 miles in all) that range from smooth, fast, and flowy, to technical and chunky, to a whole lot of in between. Next explore the Taylor River and Spring Creek drainages via the famed Doctor Park trail, which includes one of the best extended descents anywhere in Colorado — or the whole US of A for that matter.
Further up valley, it’s a whole lot more of the same, with each of the primary Crested Butte-area drainages (Cement Creek, Brush Creek, Gothic, Washington Gulch, Slate, and Kebler) all providing access to the trails that helped birth the sport of mountain biking back in the 1970s and ’80s, and continue to be an international draw today. Some (but certainly not all) of our personal favorite rides include Green Lake, Happy Hour, the 403-401 combo, Teocalli Ridge, Strand Hill, Waterfall, Trail 400, and Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman. But that’s just scratching the surface, which is why it’s best to come see for yourself.
For a deeper 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. It’s the only complete trail map of the entire valley, and CBGTrails includes trails that aren’t on MTBProject or Trailforks. Just make sure to download the app for Android and iOS.
2. Dedicated Trail Maintainers
Even the best trails need a little love to retain their grin-inducing greatness. And while both Gunnison and Crested Butte boast vibrant volunteer communities, it is the area’s full-time paid trail maintenance workforces (run by Gunnison Trails and the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association respectively) that assure these local treasures get the care they need when they need it. Whether it’s mitigating water drainage issues, cutting out downed trees, or hauling away trash, organizations such as the Crested Butte Conservation Corps are the boots on the ground doing daily work, responding to specific needs, and generally making sure that whether you’re a local or a first time visitor, your mountain bike experience is the best it can be. PS: If you appreciate their work, they take donations.
3. Evolution Bike Park
Crested Butte is a lot of things, and high is one of them. And we don’t mean that in a “Cheech and Chong” kind of way. Indeed, the town’s elevation is 8909 feet and just about every ride goes up from there. Point being, if you’re coming in from sea level, or have yet to reach peak fitness, high altitude climbing can wear you out. But fear not, Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s Evolution Bike Park is the perfect elixir for tired legs — or for any rider looking to get max descending and spend a little time relaxing on a chairlift between runs.
The Evolution Bike Park boasts 29 trails and has 1000 feet of vertical drop. Terrain ranges from beginner friendly runs such Hotdogger and Down Time, to moderate challenges such as Luge and Teaser, to the full gnar of Boulder Mason, Psycho Rocks, and Captain Jacks. You can also connect into the main town trail system by linking Upper West Side to West Side to Happy Hour to Upper to Tony’s Trail, which drops you off just east of town. Ten minutes of easy spinning from there will have you sipping a cold beer on the deck of the Brick Oven Pizzeria or one of the many other great food and drink spots on Elk Avenue.
The Bike Park-town trails combo is what the locals like to call lift-assisted XC riding, which takes a little sting out of the thin air here in the Rockies. And if you end up in town, but are too tired to pedal back up to the resort, just jump on the free shuttle bus, which has bike racks and runs every 20 minutes from 7:35 a.m. to midnight all summer long.
Bike Park hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, and they offer extended hours and discount lift tickets from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays and Wednesdays. Cost for a 2-hour Twilight pass is just $9. There are also free outdoor concerts on the mountain every Wednesday evening starting June 27.
4. Outerbike Crested Butte
While there is no bad time to visit Crested Butte, August 17-19, 2018, is definitely one of the best times for mountain bikers. During those three days, the Outerbike consumer demo event will take place at the Evolution Bike Park, availing riders the chance to check out the latest and greatest bikes and gear from some of the top brands in the industry. For the cost of a three-day Outerbike pass, consumers get unlimited daily access to some of the hottest new bikes, including top offerings from Specialized, Ibis, Niner, Pivot, Yeti, Spot, Evil, Rocky Mountain, and more.
You’ll also get the chance to sample the e-bike experience, as Outerbike has a special-use permit that allows these e-powered steeds to be ridden at the resort. You can race the Red Lady chairlift to the top, or spin up to the Umbrella Bar, which has spectacular 360-degree views of the sprawling Elk Mountain range and a tasty line-up of Bavarian beers and brats.
Here is how the Outerbike experience can help you buy your next bike.
The complete exhibitor list includes: Bosch eBike Systems, Bulls Bikes, Escapod, Esker Bikes, Evil Bikes, Fezzari, Floyd’s of Leadville, G-Form, Giant Bicycles, Haibike, Ibis Cycles, Kali Protectives, Advocate Cycles, Krueger Outdoor, Niner, SRAM, Marin, MRP, Norco Bicycles, Orbea, Pivot Cycles, Rock Mountain, Mondraker, Scott Sports, Shimano StEPS, Spot Bikes, Specialized, Tailwind Nutrition, Trail Insight, Transition Bikes, and Yeti Cycles.
Some, but certainly not all, of the highlight demo products this year will include Fezzari’s soon-to-be-released long travel 29er/enduro bike; Pivot’s recently launched Trail 429; Esker Cycles, a new brand with new bike models including one high-end bike with a Dave Weagle-designed suspension platform; the full slate of Rocky Mountain Bikes, including the Pipeline C70, Instinct BC C90, Instinct C70, and the new Thunderbolt C70; and Yeti’s complete bike line up, including the SB5.5, SB5+, and SB100.
Finally, Outerbike Crested Butte will mark the debut of the Outerbike Test Team, which is open to anyone registered for the event. “The concept is to give demo participants a bigger voice in reviewing bikes,” explained Outerbike’s Mark Sevenoff. “Now that we have multiple consumer events there’s a need for more consumer feedback.”
The idea is that potential buyers will benefit from consumer input, especially from an informed Outerbike participant. “Many Outerbikers already fill out vendor surveys about their ride experience or share it via social,” added Sevenoff. “We want to encourage more of that, as we feel the more info out there the better.”
To encourage participation, Outerbikers that use the hashtag #outerbiketestteam via social sharing will be eligible to win prizes during the Friday and Saturday happy hours. Outerbike will have further guidelines of the program in place in time for the event so stay tuned to www.outerbike.com for more information.
5. Everything else
Of course the summertime Crested Butte experience is about more than just riding bikes. From stand up paddle boarding on Lake Irwin, to world class fishing on the Taylor River, to hiking the Lower Loop trail, to camping up the Slate River valley, to just sitting on a bench on Elk Avenue soaking in the sun, this place has so much to offer. You can learn more about all these activities and more at gunnisoncrestedbutte.com.
Crested Butte and Gunnison also 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 Gunnison, 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 list 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 yummy Mexican fare. For coffee, get your on-mountain java fix at the Coal Breaker Coffee Company, or head to town and check out Camp 4.
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.