Biking Bliss with 750 Miles of Trails in Crested Butte & the Gunnison Valley, Colorado
Home of mountain biking to launch new mountain biking trails app and website
Gunnison–Crested Butte, Colorado – The Gunnison–CrestedButte Valley boasts the largest mountain biking trail systems in the United States with more than 750 miles of mostly singletrack trails and a jam-packed calendar of biking events for 2015. For example, the Crested ButteBig Mountain Enduro is the only U.S. stop of the Enduro World Series and will be the country’s biggest mountain biking event in 2015. The biking terrain is so vast that a new trails app and mountain biking website will be launched later this spring.
Since the 1970s, when locals started retrofitting old Schwinn paperboy bikes with multiple gears, Crested Butte has been known as the home of mountain biking. Crested Butte is one of only five communities in Colorado to have the prestigious gold designation from the League of American Bicyclists, and Gunnison is one of only nine towns with silver status.
Best Gunnison Valley Trails if You’re Visiting From Sea Level
The high elevation of Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley is a blessing, and a curse. We have relatively cool summers, beautiful mountain vistas, and Colorado’s best wildflowers. We also have a lot of vertical relief, making for epic mountain bike descents. But, that elevation also makes it challenging to visit from sea level and ride at your best. There’s no getting around the fact that our air is less dense and that adds an extra degree of challenge to our rides.
If you are coming up from low elevation and want to make the most of your trip, we recommend spending at least your first day riding in one of these trail networks to ease into our high altitude and still make the most of your vacation. Learn more here
World-Class Mountain Biking Events
Organized by mountain biking legend and Gunnison resident Dave Wiens,The Original Growler always sells out quickly and serves as the official kickoff of the mountain bike race season in the Gunnison–Crested ButteValley. Held on Memorial Day weekend, the Half-Growler (32 miles) on May 23 and Full-Growler (64 miles) on May 24 start downtown before heading out to Hartman Rocks. New this year is the Growler Forty, a mountain duathlon that includes one lap of the Growler course with a 7-plus mile trail run thrown in the middle. The event is the primary fund-raiser forGunnison Trails.
Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte are the proud hosts of the world’s oldest mountain bike festival, the Annual Crested Butte Bike Week. Scheduled for June, the festival kicks off with beginner, intermediate, advanced and women’s specific clinics and an amateur film night on Thursday, followed by the Chainless World Championship (a 7-mile ride down Kebler Pass on cruiser bikes without chains) on Friday. The weekend is all about the Fat Tire 40 mountain bike race on Saturday andCrested Butte Mountain’s downhill race on Sunday. For those who like a mellower ride, the Adaptive Sports Center’s annual Bridges of the Buttetownie tour is a 24-hour ride for individuals and teams in June. Free shuttle rides to premiere area trails are available throughout Crested Butte Bike Week, and new for this year is a $5,000 cash purse for the Fat Tire 40 as well as for the Growler.
Crested Butte Mountain hosts the free Pinnacle Bike Race Series on five Wednesday nights in July in tandem with the free
Gunnison’s Hartman Rocks
The second annual GORE-TEX Grand Traverse Mountain Run & Bike, Sept. 5 – 6, is the fair-weather version of the legendary Gore-Tex Grand Traverse backcountry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen. The course is similar to the winter route, approximately 40 miles with similar elevation gain/loss; however, the Sept. 5 trail run starts at 6 a.m. in downtown Crested Butteon Elk Avenue and finishes at Ajax Park in Aspen and the Sept. 6 mountain bike races departs Ajax Park at 8 a.m. and finish at Crested ButteMountain Resort. Outdoor enthusiasts can sign up for one or both of the September races, and those who are truly hard core can shoot for a triple crown win!
The annual Pearl Pass Mountain Bike Tour in September is the oldest mountain bike event in the world and takes riders from CrestedButte to Aspen via Pearl Pass. In 1976, the first group of 15 or 20 cyclists from Crested Butte rode one-speed town bikes over the 12,705-foot Pearl Pass to Aspen in response to a group of Aspenites riding motorcycles over the same route, parking in downtown Crested Butte and setting out to meet local women. The Crested Butte rowdies pulled up in downtown Aspen in front of the historic Hotel Jerome. By the early 1980s, the expert ride had grown and become a weeklong festival known as Fat Tire Bike Week. Today, Crested Butte Bike Week is held in June and the Pearl Pass Mountain Bike Tour is in September.
Bicyclists on skinny tires also are a common
In tandem with Labor Day weekend, Western State Colorado University’s Mountain Sports Team is sponsoring the fourth annual West Elk Bicycle Classic on Sept. 6. The challenging 134-mile ride (105 miles paved and 29 miles dirt) can be ridden for time or as a tour, but note that the route climbs nearly 9,300 feet from Gunnison to Crested Butte and circumnavigate the West Elk Mountains. From Gunnison, the route proceeds along the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to Crawford and Paonia before beginning a 5,000-foot climb up Kebler Pass toCrested Butte.
Townie Events & Casual Cruising
For those who love cruiser bikes, Gunnison Country Mentors’ Townie Takeover in June involves riding a townie on a charted course as many times as possible from noon – 4 p.m. or just casually for a portion of the time. Costumes are encouraged, and families and kids are welcome to participate.
The annual Bridges of the Butte 24-hour townie tour helps wrap up CrestedButte Bike Week in true Crested Butte style with many riders in costume. This one-of-a-kind ride benefitting Adaptive Sports Center starts on the afternoon in June, looping through downtown and meandering across the town’s bridges. Participants can sign up solo or as a team.
It’s also possible to race cruisers during the World Townie Championships at 24 Hours in the
For those who just want to cruise with absolutely no schedule should consider staying at properties such as The Ruby of Crested Butte, Purple Mountain Bed & Breakfast and Old Town Inn in Crested Butte, which have complimentary townie bikes available for guests. Plus, bike shops inGunnison and Crested Butte have colorful fleets and rent cruisers by the hour.
Vacation Packages & Visitor Information
For travel planning, general information and savings on flights, hotel rooms, vacation packages, car rentals and more, go towww.GunnisonCrestedButte.com or call (800) 814-8893. Also, follow GCBTA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gcbta. Later this spring, bikers can access all sorts of mountain biking information and the new trails app at www.mtbhome.com.
About Gunnison–Crested Butte, Colorado
Nestled in a valley with nearly two million acres of pristine, mountainous wilderness, Gunnison–Crested Butte has a prime location in southwest Colorado. Winter sports enthusiasts know the area for its world-class alpine skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice fishing and more. Fair-weather activities include mountain biking, hiking, wildflower and wildlife viewing, climbing, boating, whitewater rafting, kayaking, fly-fishing, camping and horseback riding. Year-round visitors enjoy distinctive restaurants, locally-owned shops, stimulating cultural opportunities and festivals galore ranging from the Crested ButteWildflower Festival and Gunnison Cattlemen’s Days to Crested Butte Bike Week and Gunnison Car Show weekend.
Along a 31-mile stretch of wide-open vistas and stunning scenery, visitors can explore Gunnison, Almont, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte and connect with the quaint and historic burgs of Pitkin, Gothic, Tin Cup, Marble, Powderhorn and Crystal, also located in Gunnison County.Gunnison and Crested Butte, both founded in 1880, are known for their Victorian-era charm, friendly Western hospitality and free-spirited nature. Almont is a fishing, rafting and rock climbing mecca, and the resort village of Mt. Crested Butte is home to renowned Crested Butte Mountain. Visitors also can explore Curecanti National Recreation Area, home to Colorado’s largest body of water, and the nearby Black Canyon of the GunnisonNational Park. Gunnison County is part of the West Elk Loop and Silver Thread Scenic & Historic Byways.
Non-stop air service to the Gunnison–Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC) is provided year-round by United Airlines with flights from Denver (DIA). United also is offering non-stop service from Houston (HIA) this summer. The Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ) is located just 79 miles fromGunnison, providing additional regional air service to the area.