Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Crested Butte 2011

     If you haven't been over to Crested Butte to hang out for a few days, my question to you is: WHY NOT?  Crested Butte is only about a 3 1/2 hour drive from here - one which winds you around the Blue Mesa Reservoir and up past Gunnison and Almont.  It's a lovely drive and Crested Butte is worth the trip.
Usually we camp on the road to the Taylor River Reservoir. We've discovered a gem of a campground called Rosy Lane, although we have to make reservations at it six months in advance! There are several others on the road though, including North Bank, Granite, and Lodgepole. From here we take the Jack's Cabin Cutoff to Crested Butte. It saves a little time on our often daily trips to/from town. This year we had 3 great days of mountain biking in Crested Butte before spending a little time in Gunnison at Hartman Rocks.

First afternoon ride: Strand Hill.  Turn right into "The Club at Crested Butte" just south of town.  Follow the road until it turns to dirt and you see a signed parking area on the left.  Park here; bike down the road about 1/2 a mile to a singletrack on the right. (You have to go through the gate).  Climb for a while, eventually heading into the aspens, before bombing down to an intersection with the Strand Bonus Trail.  Turn left and head back to the road after crossing a creek.

First ride of day #2: Snodgrass to Washington Gulch.  For this ride it is best to run a shuttle.  We leave a car in town behind the visitor's center and then take another up past Mt. Crested Butte to the Snodgrass parking area.  This is the last parking area on the left before the Gothic Road turns to dirt.  Climb climb climb.  At the fence go up and over the ladder and then head straight down the hill.  Don't turn right!  Follow the trail up a little more before heading into the aspens for some very narrow, shady, ethereal feeling single track.  You'll eventually land on Washington Gulch Road.  Turn left and follow the road back to the highway.  You'll see the bike path on the opposite side of the highway.  If you turn left briefly, you'll see a little dirt path that will take you right down onto the bike path.  Follow this back into town and hook up with the next trail described below.

Head back into town and find Butte Ave.  This is the last "town" road before you head towards Mt. Crested Butte.  There is a gas station there.  If you are standing on the main road looking at the Butte intersection, the gas station will be on your right (most likely).  Turn left (which should be west I think)...away from the bike path.  You'll head through a neighborhood and across a pedestrian bridge.  Keep going.  Soon you'll see a single track trail on the left, just past the last house on the left.  Take this.  Stay RIGHT at all intersections!  The single track will parallel the road to the Peanut Mine.  Eventually you'll pop back out on the jeep road by a cattle guard.  Look left and you'll see a sign that says 'Peanut Mine and Lower Loop area."  Go left and then at the "Lower Loop Single Track" sign, turn right and follow the single track.  Soon you'll cross the jeep road and get on "Upper Lower Loop."  Continue to ride the awesome single track and enjoy the awesome views.  Eventually you will find yourself on a loose gravel double track road.  As soon as you get to the bottom of the hill on this, turn right!  Don't go straight all the way to the swimming hole or you'll find yourself on the wrong side of the creek.  So turn right and follow the jeep road back past the Lower Loop signs (take the single track or wide path) and head back down the Peanut Mine/Kebler Pass road to town.  Find your car behind the visitor's center and enjoy a beer!

View of our awesome Rosy Lane camp. 

Saturday's ride: Doctor's Park.  On Saturday we drove a scant mile down the road to the North Bank Campground parking area.  We left 1 vehicle here and then made the 8 mile drive up Spring Creek Road (right across from Harmel's).  When you've gone about 8 miles, look right and you'll see this area (above).  Park here.  You'll have to ford the creek; taking your shoes off or leaving them on is your choice - the rocks are uncomfortable, but so are wet feet!  Reapply insect repellent!  You'll climb the jeep road for a while.  Stay right at intersections.  It will get easier - mostly 2nd or 3rd gear climbing, except for one spot that gets pretty steep...climb, climb, rest, climb.  The views are awesome!  Eventually you'll go down, back up, and into the woods.  Please please talk loudly in here to make the bears aware that you're there.  The trail does some weird stuff through here - it's rooty and muddy but kind of fun!  When you pop out of the woods, be prepared:  The next section is steep, loose, and technical.  Kudos to you if you can ride it all!  Soon though, I promise, you'll hit some of the sweetest most awesome flowing single track you've ever encountered.  Spend about 20 minutes zooming along before a short climb.  Then there's more zooming, then another not-as-technical steep section dropping you down into the North Bank campground.  Head right to your second vehicle and toast an awesomely entertaining ride!

Ah Hartman Rocks...this place can be confusing if you don't keep a map with you and know where you're going!  Here's a good loop:  From the parking area head up the trail by the bathrooms (on the left) and pick up Jack's Trail.   This trail has a lot of switchbacks and is fairly fun for a climbing trail.  Once you get to the top, head left down the jeep road.  Pass "Technical Beck's" and stay straight for a bit.  You'll pass a road on the right and climb up a hill on the jeep road.  At the top of the hill, turn left.  You'll see a trail post in the distance.  From left the trails are: Technical Beck's (the top of it), Beck's, Rocky Ridge.  Take Rocky Ridge.  This trail has some technical sections (see above), but is fairly entertaining.  Once you reach the end of this trail you'll have options to take Sea of Sage, Buddy Bear, or the Luge Connector.  To make your ride a little longer, you can take Buddy Bear and then turn right at the double track end of Buddy's and head back to connect with the Luge, which will now be on your left.  There are all kinds of loops to make, but make sure to include the Luge as it's a super fun flowing section of single track.  Whatever you do, finish back at Jack's Trail so you can enjoy heading down the switchbacks there.

There are so many trails to ride in Crested Butte and Gunnison...the possibilities for trail runs, hikes, etc. are endless!  You can raft the Taylor river or just hang out in town.  The Brick Oven is a great pizza place in CB.  I highly recommend the Elizabeth Anne pizza and a table on the patio.  Go. Now. Enjoy!

No comments: