January 12, 2016
Coming from the flatlands, being out of shape and riding early in the season (July 5th) made for some serious obstacles but my wife and I were game. But overall this bucket list worthy trail is all I've ever wanted. Last time we were in Crested Butte was during the month of June a few years ago but most of the higher trails were unrideable. This time was still early in the season but it was a perfect day for riding! We headed up the road from the parking lot just north of Gothic, with a few obstacles, the first being some pretty deep water (by bike standards) in the road and then a very sizable snow patch that I could only ride half way through until we made it to the top of the pass (and totally out of breath.) And then it got tougher, the trail up was muddy in spots and snow covered in spots as well and steep. Lots of walking and riding and breaks but soon we were in a beautiful alpine meadow, and we decided to find a geocache and oh those views! Still some gradual up to the high point of the trail and then, you roll over and it's all downhill (or so I thought.) The mouth opening breathing turned to pure smiles as we're in the most beautiful valley on a perfect ribbon of singletrack with handlebar height wildflowers. Didn't go too fast, took lots of photos and video and just had a wonderful time. Almost everything was rideable (one step up rock wash out that I assume everyone has to walk) and the little runoff creeks weren't too bad and we were close to down before I even realized it. The trail marking got a touch sketchy when we hit an ATV trail and we went up before turning around and going down and seeing the trail in a stream. Crazy ride through the stream and I'm pretty worked, but then another few hundred feet of elevation gain topping out on a steep climb made me a little unhappy. Then we crossed a narrow bridge and then back down some and it was fun again! 13.2miles, 2250 ft climbing round trip. Took us 4 hours with lots of stops, snacks, photos, videos, etc, maybe 2:30 riding time for a couple unadapted undertrained Wisconsinites taking it slow!
Last real ride on my 26" Mongoose Canaan. This is a must do for any mountain bike enthusiast. Combine the scenery, backcountry feel, wildflowers, streams, wildlife, epic climb, fun singletrack and it's some of the most fun you can have on an XC bike.