If you are a mountain biker (or even cyclist) and haven’t yet made it to Crested Butte, CO—get it on your list. This former coal mining town at the foot of Mt. Emmons is now an alpine haven for mountaineers, climbers, snowboarders, skiers, hikers, mountain bikers, cyclists, and anyone who enjoys small town mountain life. Hundreds of miles of epic singletrack, an extremely active local mountain bike organization, and the annual Fat Tire Bike Week, together have cemented Crested Butte as one the premier mountain biking destinations in the US.
Start: Camp 4 Coffee
All the coffee served at the three Camp 4 locations is roasted by hand in small batches. Supposedly only two people are privy to the secret roasting recipe—it’s that good. Camp 4 founder Al Smith came to Crested Butte from Alaska in 1993 and started his caffeine laden career with the Just Coffee cart at Mt. Crested Butte. Later, Al bought out the assets of Just Coffee and turned it into Camp 4, a name arrived at around the campfire during a climbing trip to Yosemite, CA. Along with your Americano or Triple Shot Latte, I highly recommend one of the breakfast biscuits, breakfast burritos, or even variety of donuts to help power you through your ride.
If you’re a purist, you will start this ride in town or at least from the Camp 4 Coffee location up at Mountaineer Square at the base of Mt. Crested Butte. Yes, it is an 11 mile slog up a dirt road to Schofield Pass (10,722 ft), but the views are amazing along the way and you will feel great at the end of the day knowing you earned that endless flowy downhill. The 401 Trail singletrack starts right at the pass and immediately rises steeply and quickly—the climb is not easy. At almost 11,ooo ft, your legs and lungs will be screaming. As you reach the clearing, however, you will soon be whooping with glee as you head down, down, down through endless fields of chest height wildflowers and views across the Crystal River Valley and surrounding mountains. The trail is buffed, packed, and fast, with a few dodgy sections thrown in to make things interesting. At the base of the descent, there are numerous bail out points to Gothic Road if you have had enough or the weather is closing in—otherwise the 401 Trail singletrack continues over and along the creek, rolling through the woods all the way back to the town of Gothic
Beer: The Eldo Brewery and Taproom (215 Elk Ave., Crested Butte, CO 81224)
Nicknamed “a sunny place for shady people”, this is a no-frills serve yourself at the bar kind of place but the home beers are great and the burgers good. With only a small 7 barrel system and limited distribution, the Eldo can experiment and tweak each recipe to create a variety of delicious beers. Grab a Hooligan IPA or a Session Ale and head out to the sunny patio. On most weekend and some weekday nights during peak seasons, the Eldo features live music, with tickets sold at the door.