Crested Butte Mountain Biking: My Favorite Routes & Other Info

Corey Philip // November 18, 2021

In the summer of 2020 I was spending some time in Breckenridge and decided to pop over to Crested Butte (about 3.5 hours away) for a ride.  I found awesome riding and a small town.  I was hooked.  In 2021 I came back for a month.  

Things To Know

  • Most of the riding is spread out from the town.  It's not like Breckenridge where you can just roll out and hit trails.  Yes with enough fitness you can hit these from town, but you're in for some long road riding.
  • I recommend Big Al's bike shop in town.  Having worked in bike shops I don't like letting other people work on my bikes, because well I know what I am doing and I have seen first hand that you can get varying quality simply depending on who is working that day.  While in Crested Butte I found myself needing a rear brake replaced.  It was internally routed so the rear triangle would probably need to come off -- not a job for a mult-tool at the trail head.  I dropped the bike off at Big Al's and picked it up a day later.  I also blew my fork and had them rebuild my fork and shock -- both done to perfection.  
  • Food... Teocale Tamale is going to get you the most nutrition for the best price.  I was eating there like 3 times a day. 

[Trail] 401 Trail

If you want a descent that gives your money's worth.  Trailforks.

Ah the classic 401 Trail.  You really can't cover anything about Crested butte without starting off with the 401 trail. You get awesome views, as you rip through wild flowers on the side of the mountain, all on an awesome trail.  The trail itself is not technical by any means, but it flows awesomely and the faster you go the more fun it gets.  

When ridden as a full loop by taking the dirt road up, you'll get about 14 miles and 2,300' elevation.  

After leaving the dirt road at Schofield pass, you'll make your way up some steep but rideable single track.  It's not technical climbing, but it gets very steep in some places and most riders will have to stop a few times.  Ones on the descent, gravity does the work.  

What I I really have to say about this descent is that it really feels like you get your money's worth.  If you've ever done a big climb, only to feel like the descent is over way too quickly... this is just the opposite of that.  

Heads up: this trail can get packed on the weekends.  If you want to rip, avoid the weekends.

[Route] Flag / Bear / Deadmans

When you want a backcountry route with 3 unique descents!  Trailforks

19 Miles | 3,300' | Advanced Ride

This is my favorite route in the Crested Butte area.  What's cool is that you get 3 distinctly different descents in one route.  The route is open to Moto-bikes so the trail does have whoops on and it can be lose in some parts, but it's still a ton of fun.  Although it is open to moto bikes, the route is usually pretty empty of both moto and mountain bike traffic.  

Starting off a fire road climb for the first 6 miles or so you hit the first descent of Flag Creek.  This one starts off fast and flowy, with little tree cover, and gets more pedally as you descend.  The second descent on Bear Creek is my favorite.  What's cool about it is that it has multiple lines you can take, so you can have different feeling rides down it it every time you ride it, unlike being stuck in a groove.  The 3rd climb up to the final descent is the most brutal.  Right at the end it gets VERY steep.  Most will have to walk it.  Then you hit Deadman's Gulch to descent back to the trail head.  This is the most technical descent on the trail.  You'll be feeling worked by the time you get to the bottom.

Alternate Route: If you have 2 vehicles to shuttle, you can do a point to point link up of Flag - Bear Creek - And Doctor Park.  That'll get you about 29 miles with 4,000' of climbing and 5,000' of descending.  Here is the Trailforks.  

[Trail] Teocali Ridge

Steep Up.  Rip Down.  Not too long.

10 miles | 2,200' | Trail Forks

In just 11 miles this loop shoots you up 2000' and then back down.  With that much elevation in a relatively short distance it is going to be steep.  You feel the climb which is compounded by the elevation.  

The road starts off a dirt road for about 4 miles and up to that point isn't too steep.  Then you hit the single track and start making a push for the ridge clearing 1,200' in 2.5 miles.  That's generally a steep climb, but don't for get you're at 10,000' of elevation.    Then it's downhill.  The top is super fast and rocky, a few small drops. It turns into fast and somewhat chunky single track. Ends with bermed switch backs, and fast meadow rip. 

As this ride is pretty short you can link it up with Strand hill or Strawberry Trail, but I like to just ride it twice.  

[Trail] Doctor Park

the most technical you'll find in Crested butte! Trailforks

This ride has a little bit of everything packed in; some steep climbing, some fast hard hitting chunk, some fast flow, and some technical rocky stuff.  It's pretty fun.  

To loop it up you do have about 9 miles of road riding, followed by some narrow fire road climbing and then it is all down hill from there.

About the Author

Corey Philip

Mountain biker and trail runner. I work remotely and travel around riding awesome trails 66% of the year. Bike: 2020 Specialized Stumpjumper. Youtube | Strava | Instagram