Summertime in the mountains is really hard to beat. No humidity, comfortable temperatures, beautiful wildflowers, big views, and if you time it right, no rain. Summer is short in the Colorado mountains, especially as you climb up in elevation. It wasn’t that long ago where high alpine trails were under snow, and bikepacking trips had to consist of plowed forest service roads and lower elevations. So when the time comes, especially with a quality weather window, it’s hard to pass up. We have been wanting to explore the eastern section of Crested Butte a bit more without crushing ourselves. Lindsay came up with a 2 day 60 mile loop starting from our house, and it highlighted some wicked forest road climbs and stunning views of the Elk and Collegiate Mountains. Our overnighter started on a Saturday morning, with a 5 mile stretch of pavement before we would ride dirt for the rest of the trip. Gunnison Country and the Gunnison National Forest has some fantastic recreation access. The first day would be forest road heavy, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. After climbing up and finally reaching the 5-way intersection that filters into the famous Flat Creek Trail, we took a chill pill with a large crew of folks. Reno Road – Flag Creek Trail – Bear Creek Trail and Deadmans Trail makes a fantastic day loop just east of Crested Butte, but crowds are a big issue during the weekend. You never know what kind of folks you will see out there – bikers, motos, and even gymnasts. Once we split off on Italian Creek Road the crowds vanished and it was absolutely stunning. We were a little surprised that we had never explored this road since it was so close to home. There were some tough moments, but for the most part it was a quality forest service road that would eventually bring us to 12,000 feet, and award us beautiful views of the Collegiate Mountains. Colorado Bikepacking We got to the saddle between Italian Mountain and American Flat Mountain and saw nothing but beautiful views all around. That capped off an 18 mile stretch where we climbed over 3,000 feet. It felt good, and we had a quality descent ahead of us. You will never see new places if you don’t go explore. That was the case with these “million $ views” and Oliver’s Cabin. After descending down to Taylor Park we filled up on water in the super clear and cold Upper Taylor River. We continued to climb to the headwaters of the Taylor River, and found camp at the base of a handful of over 12,000 feet peaks and the Mt. Tilton trailhead. Our day of riding ended just at the end of Taylor River Road. We pedaled 37 miles for the day with 4,700 feet of climbing. It was time for some rest and relaxation. Soon after dinner, the sun was replaced with a beautiful sunset followed by a sea of stars. Once all the firewood was burned and the flask of bourbon was empty, it was time for a peaceful night of rest at 10,700 feet. Suffice it to say, we had a great day and an even better evening. This is what bikepacking is all about, and tomorrow, we would ride bikes yet again. Before what was a pretty brutal climb out of the valley, we had instant oats, and a delicious cup of coffee. I should note we ran into our fair share of motos on the 2nd day, but they were all extremely friendly. We were all out there for the same reason. Today’s highlights were another alpine climb up to Star Pass at 12,200 feet, but even better…singletrack. Some of the trail was rough and some was too steep, but some was just perfect. Colorado Bikepacking The top of Star Pass was truly stunning. There were tiny little wildflowers blowing in the wind, views that went on for miles, and us knowing we had an amazing descent ahead of us. Spirits were high. If you have yet to ride Trail 400, it’s worth a day trip, and if you can somehow add it into a bikepacking route, it’s an extremely rewarding descent. The trail starts rather smooth but it’s steep in sections. Once you get at or below tree line it becomes a bit more technical. It is a great section of singletrack that is famous in our area. The trip ended abruptly, and all too fast for our liking, but it was a quality route, one we will certainly recommend to anyone. Trail 400 filtered into Brush Creek Road, and eventually back into the ranching-rich town of Crested Butte. We hit this trip with a perfect weather window, something hard to come by. It is certainly important to plan ahead on trips like this, as monsoon season and lightning storms in the high country carry no mercy on anyone.

5 Comments

  1. This the sounds great i the route going to be uploaded?

  2. Lindsay, I’ll be in CB in a few days. Is there any way to get that gpx file? I have the trail maps of CB but just wanted to make sure I had trip details all sorted out before I arrived.

    Thanks,

    Sean

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *