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Tags:
Level: Advanced
Length: 20 mi (32.2 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +1,376/1 ft
Total: 94 riders
 

Mountain Biking Reno / Flag / Bear / Deadman Loop

*****   Add a review
#93 of 1,344 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#846 in the world

The route described here is just over twenty miles long and can be ridden in three to four hours, making a nice half day ride. It is well marked, so donít worry about getting lost. There are no extreme challenges so any reasonably competent single-track rider should enjoy it. The loop features an easy road ride uphill, feeding into miles of single-track, and finishes with a fast, somewhat steep downhill. You can make it longer by riding from town or adding in other segments that are close by. As with most Crested Butte Trails, avoid this area if it is wet. The trails will appreciate it and your body will appreciate it,.

From the Deadman Gulch trailhead, head up the valley on Cement Creek Road (740). After a few miles you come to the intersection for Italian Creek Road (759). Take a right on 759 and head uphill. Now you start the real climbing. This is a steady uphill that, after a few miles, will crest at the top of the Reno Divide. Look for the obvious sign marking the top of Flag Creek Trail (422), your first downhill. This is a nice, easy ride down a mellow valley for a few miles. Keep in mind that this is a shared use trail, which means motorcycles, which means occasional whoop-dee-doos and ruts that, if you arenít paying attention, can send you sailing. Pay attention.

On the right you will see the start of the Bear Creek Trail (415). Remember all that altitude you just gave up on Flag Creek Trail? Well now you get to gain it back. Cross the creek and start pedaling uphill. After a couple miles you will come to a dirt road. Important! If you cross the road and keep going up the (now very steep) trail you will end up on the top of Reno Divide. That is a fine ride, but you will miss out on the best single-track in this loop, the downhill portion of Bear Creek Trail. Go left (south) and follow the road for three quarters of a mile. There you will see a sign for the remainder of Bear Creek Trail. Take a right and cruise down into a wide open meadow. As the valley narrows you will go thru a fence line. Wahoo! This is what you have been waiting for. A fast downhill, winding down the valley, with swoopy rolling turns. Part way down you will realize this is why you coughed up the extra dollars for a full suspension bike with disc brakes. It is over way too soon, but is way fun.

Just before you cheek muscles start to ache from all the grinning you will encounter the Deadman Gulch Trail (420). Guess what. You get to ride uphill again! Take a right and follow the trail to the crest of Reno Ridge. The last quarter mile will get your heart pounding. On the crest you will see the Reno Ridge Trail come in from the right. Think about trying it the next time you come out.

After your heart has quit pounding check your brakes ñ you are going to need them. The ride back to the trailhead is a series of fairly steep long switchbacks, dropping about 1200 vertical feet in a bit over a mile. By the time you get to the bottom your arms will probably be tired and your brakes will definitely be hot. This is the only section of the ride that may be trying for a neophyte single-track rider, especially if the trail is wet and slick.

First added by bonkedagain on May 2, 2020. Last updated May 2, 2020. → add an update
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Getting there
From Colorado Highway 135, take the Cement Creek Road (FS 740) east to the Deadman Gulch Trailhead, about seven miles . Cement Creek Road is about seven miles south of Crested Butte.
System trails (4)
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Reno / Flag / Bear / Deadman Loop Trail map

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Eryn Kaiser (on Aug 25, 2019)
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Good (on Jul 3, 2018)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Crested Butte, Colorado

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  • mongwolf   ✓ supporter
    ***

    I feel the same way Richard. Pretty disappointing. I've only ridden four rides in the CB area, but thus far, it seems the trails are "tired" and overused.

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  • Richard Hespen
    Reviewing Flag:
    ***

    This trail was a huge disappointment. It has been completely shredded by motorcycles, and the huge holes and ruts are mud pits that destroy all flow. Fortunately, Bear was still really good.

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  • Richard Hespen
    Reviewing Deadman Gulch:
    ****

    The Deadman's switchbacks have been shredded by motorcycles, leaving huge ruts and mud pits. They are still fun, but not what they used to be. Doctor Park switchbacks are way better.

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  • Richard Hespen
    Reviewing Bear:
    *****

    Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman has been mostly ruined by motorcycles. Still, the Bear decent remains a gem in the loop and is still a blast.

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  • mongwolf   ✓ supporter
    ****

    Rode this loop today for the first time. All in all, I thought the nature and scenery were beautiful, but many portions of trail were pretty chewed up by the motorcycles. The climb up Cement Creek Road & Italian Creek Road is excellent. Challenging but not too challenging and exceptionally beautiful. I loved it.
    The Flag Creek DH is nothing out of the ordinary and is filled with fresh cow poo currently. By the time I got to the bottom I couldn't touch any part of my bike without grabbing some poo. Had to wash it (and me) off in the creek. The trail up Bear Creek is really chewed up by the motorcycles. The trail down Bear Creek needs a little rerouting near the top but is truly an excellent DH. The climb up Deadmans starts pretty mellow but makes you pay later. I hiked several portions. The scenery up Deadmans is killer. The DH on Deadmans is like nothing I have ever experienced. Very cool ... ... even though it is the result of being totally torn up by the motorcycles. This is a nice backcountry ride, but the pristine aspect of it is greatly reduced by the damaged trail conditions. I don't think I'll return. Too bad.

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  • stillfat
    *****

    One of CBs finest. Bear Creek rivals Doctor Park as one of the area's best downhills.

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  • Greg Heil   ✓ supporter
    Reviewing Deadman Gulch:
    *****

    Deadman Gulch is a riot to ride--at least, in the downhill direction, which is really the only way you should ride it! Huge switchbacks with big berms and plenty of rocks, this descent is a real treat.

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  • mtndew24
    *****

    Fantastic! Make sure you bring your climbing legs though, there are three tough climbs with the longest being the first one. Yet, it is so worth the effort, the downhills are flowy and you will always be going fast on all of the 3 descents. This is how it went straight up straight down x3. Motorbikes also venture here but it's not an issue if anything it makes the trail more flowy especially during the switchback sections because of the amount of turning radius you get.

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  • jeremyg998
    *****

    Great trail, a bit chewed up by the cows but Bear Creek has to be one of the best single track downhills I've ridden - it just keeps giving! Three big climbs and three great downhills. Deadman's Gulch is a mixture of torture and ecstasy, 30 switchbacks and lots of brakes

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  • baber3000
    ****

    great trail until the option...do not take the option unless you want to push your bike up rocky loose single track for hours. not worth taking the option...otherwise a great epic ride!!!

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  • AboveTheRidge
    ****

    Rode this trail on Thurs 8/12 when some storms rolled through. Got caught in a hailstorm for about 10 min but it rolled through with enough window to get us out, but the climbs were tough once the rutted trails were wet. This trail is definitely one of the best in the Butte. Definitely add to the "must do" list when in CB.

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  • watertightg
    *****

    Great trail, ride it more to keep the dirt bike contingent annoyed enough to go somewhere else. The trail is getting hammered by an increase in motorized use and areas are getting trashed. The wetlands at the top of Deamans are getting braided, the whoop de doos are getting prolific and there is an area in the middle of Bears descent that has eroded so much in the last few years that it is pretty much unrideable.

    If you are in the Taylor/Spring Creek res area you can ride it starting at the bottom of Flag Creek, don't have to do the big drive around and you are 180* out from the masses that start from Deadmans parking area.
    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/42587648

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  • kuala_tahan
    *****

    Rode 401 the day before this, thought that was the best trail I had ever ridden until I rode this. Got a MAN climb at the beginning if you park in Deadman's TH, up the Reno Divide road. 6 miles, 2,000 feet. No joke. Then you get screaming singletrack down Flag, better than the 401 singletrack I think. Best I had ever ridden. Then, after having zero legs from your big boy climb up the divide, you get to climb up Bear, gradual and long enough that you feel like puking. Remember how I said Flag was the best singletrack I'd ever ridden? That was before I hit Deadman's. 4(ish) miles of stupid fast singletrack through wide open, beautiful meadows, in the trees, just insanity. Like stuff you see in MTB movies. Easily the best singletrack I've ever ridden. And pretty deserted trail cause it's so long, so don't have to worry about running into people for the most part, just open up and let 'er rip. Then, more climbing, when you REALLY have no legs. At all. Feel like passing out. Then, you get the switchbacks down. A shop told me there's 32 switchbacks down, and they wail. Tons of fun, and exhausting. You're so tired that you really have to focus on these, cause they get kinda gnarly and very fast. Totally badass trail, ride it

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  • bikecandy
    *****

    Even though this trail system attracts motos and can be a bit chewed up and dusty in spots, it is still pretty awesome. We have been lucky to ride it with perfect trail conditions where the dust wasn't a problem, but I could imagine that it could be a bit annoying on a hot, dry summer day. The switchbacks on Deadman's are so fun!!

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  • bikecandy
    *****

    What a great trail! As mentioned, motos do use this trail and it obviously can get dusty and chewed up in spots, etc. but those spots were few during our ride after some rains. The climbs are mostly gradual but tough with a some good short, steep climbs in the middle of the ride. The downhills are well worth the climbing, and the switchbacks on Deadman's are all rideable even for those who suck at them like me. (That's one thing you can thank the motos for I guess). It's got it all - stream crossings, singletrack in the woods, wide, open meadow sections....just a great ride

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