Top Ten Mountain Bike Meccas (Beyond Moab)

Crested Butte, Colorado
  |  Gorp.com

Way back in 1976, some folks in Crested Butte hopped on their fat-tired one-speed "clunker" bikes and set off toward Aspen—through the pine and aspen forests, past waterfalls and panoramic views, and over the 12,705-foot Pearl Pass. With that historic ride, the mountain biking community in Crested Butte was born.

With such an early and auspicious beginning, it's not surprising that the sport has flourished in Crested Butte. The town, with a population of nearly 900 people in the 1990 census, is home to the oldest mountain bike festival in the world. The Fat Tire Festival convenes in June, but it's not the only indication that Crested Butte has taken mountain biking to heart. This is also the home of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Museum, which records the story of how the sport began in this beautiful mountain community.

Here, in the middle of the Gunnison National Forest, you'll find an incredible variety of trails leading to alpine lakes, mountain vistas, and historic mining sites. Steep climbs, technical downhills, thick forests, wildflower-laced meadows. Crested Butte has it all. What follows are some of the classic rides you won't want to miss.

Pearl Pass to Aspen

This is the classic of the classics—the place where it all began. This strenuous ride leaves town and follows Middle Brush Creek Road on its lengthy climb to the pass. As you gain altitude, the road gets a bit steeper and rockier, finally climaxing with spectacular views from 12,705 feet. The descent to Aspen features many switchbacks and waterfalls. This will take you all day, so you can return along the same route tomorrow.

Upper Loop/Upper Upper Loop

This moderate ride serves as an excellent introduction to singletrack riding in the Crested Butte area. Ride up Gothic Road into Mount Crested Butte and then turn onto the trail at the foot of the mountain. Here you'll find steep descents and cruises through open fields. For a quick getaway, follow the double-track through the Skyland Golf Course area and Brush Creek Road to the highway. Otherwise, take a left through the aspens to the Upper Upper Trail and ride along the base of the mountain.

Paradise Divide

This ride is aptly named. As you pedal along, you'll find yourself in mountain-bike paradise. Here you'll find challenging climbs tempered by fast descents, an alpine lake, and massive open fields dotted with wildflowers.

Poverty Gulch

The first eight miles of this ride are an easy pedal, but it gets a bit more challenging at Poverty Gulch Road. This trip along a riverside, through hillside wildflower patches, and among towering mountains is an excellent ride for newcomers to Crested Butte territory.


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