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  1. #1
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    First Time Riding CB/Gunnison/Monarch Crest

    Hey guys, I'm finally pulling the trigger on what I hope to be an EPIC western Colorado MTB road trip. Priorities for the trip are: Crested Butte, Gunnison (Hartman Rocks), and the Monarch Crest Trail. My current plan has me riding 4-5days during the week of July 25th. In no set order, the plan as of now: (2) days in CB, (1) day at Hartman Rocks, and (1) day for Monarch Crest. As I have never ridden at these places before I would love any advice on making the most of my time during the trip:

    -Any good/affordable lodging recommendations in CB/Gunnison? I might be solo, or maybe one other person with me. And is Gunnison a good base area for riding CB, or is it better to stay there for the days I ride there?

    -In CB the 401 trail sounds like a 'must ride'. I also read that the Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman's ride (did I get that right?) is exceptional. Do you agree? Any other recommendations for my first time in CB?

    -In Gunnison, any particular loop/s at Hartman Rocks that shouldn't be missed? Any other trails aside from H.R. that are favorites of other forum members?

    -Good places for pre/post-ride meals?

    Well, I'm sure I could think of some more questions, but if anyone has input on the ones above that would be great. I'll be traveling from Salt Lake City, so if anyone has questions on riding in Utah, I'd be happy to reciprocate. Thanks for reading. Mike

  2. #2
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    Here are a couple thoughts from someone who's ridden in CB a lot:

    - I'd stay in CB for the two nights you ride there. It's an awesome town and it's worth a few extra bucks to be able to ride from the condo/rental/etc instead of having to drive the 30 minutes up the road from Gunni. You should be able to find some decent places on VRBO.com. I'd stay in town, that way you can walk to all the restaurants and bars at night.
    - I'd say the 401 is a must ride... but you can easily connect it with several other trails in the area to make it more of an epic day. There are several other trails nearby that you can connect it with (with a little bit of dirt road riding inbetween), like Snodgrass, Deer Creek, and all the trails at the bottom of Mt. CB. Take the bus up to the resort, start from there, and end your ride in town with a beer and some pizza. Also, look into Doctor's Park as a must-do ride- it's down near the town of Almont, so maybe you could knock that off on your way to/from Gunnison.
    - Good places for meals in CB: Izzy's, Camp Four, or McGill's for breakfast, Teocalli Tamale or Gas Cafe for cheap lunch, and Secret Stash, Brick Oven Pizza, The Slogar, Wooden Nickel, The Last Steep, Marchitelli's, Bachhnale (sp?), or Django for dinner. You really can't go wrong with food in CB, I've never had anything bad in years of going.

    Sorry I don't have any info for Gunnison, as I've never stayed or ridden there- I always head up the road and spend my time in Crested Butte instead. Honestly, you'd probably be perfectly fine having your base in Crested Butte and then driving to the other spots to ride that specific day.

    Be sure to check for Monarch Crest conditions before your trip- there's a ton of snow up there this year and I'm not sure it'll be melted by then. No problems though, just spend an extra day in CB.

  3. #3
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    Steve- Thanks for all the great tips. A quick check on VRBO showed things might be a little pricey for the solo traveler, so might consider camping during my time there, unless I find the right person to join me on this trip. Lots of my friends here either can't get the time off work or had other trips planned this Summer. I will keep my fingers crossed for Monarch Crest being rideable, but I'm sure an extra day riding CB will not hurt too bad

  4. #4
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    If your looking for a cheap stay in CB take a look and see if there is room at the Crested Butte International Hostel.

    You will also want to stay up to date on trail conditions at the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association website. Upper 401 is still under snow and may not be open come the end of July. You can ride it as an out and back from Rustler's but be aware that it is very possible you will not be riding the traditional route. Reno/Flag/Deadmans is open but is in pretty bad shape. We have received some very heavy rains the past week (more coming in as I type) which, along with the late melt and too many riders hitting the trails too early has done some damage. If we dry out I would expect it to be in better shape by the end of the month. Hartman's is a fun area if CB is wet just be sure to grab a map at Rock and Roll Sports on your way out so you don't get lost. Enjoy your stay in our little corner of Paradise.

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    Jake, thanks for your input. CBIH is a strong possibility for lodging, especially if I'm traveling solo-I'm trying to time my stay in CB somewhere between Mon-Fri so hopefully lodging isn't all booked up. I will definitely monitor the links on this site and/or check with a LBS before just venturing out on the CB trails. Will check out Rock and Roll Sports too before hitting Hartman's. I'm assuming they are in Gunnison.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ride_today714 View Post
    Jake, thanks for your input. CBIH is a strong possibility for lodging, especially if I'm traveling solo-I'm trying to time my stay in CB somewhere between Mon-Fri so hopefully lodging isn't all booked up. I will definitely monitor the links on this site and/or check with a LBS before just venturing out on the CB trails. Will check out Rock and Roll Sports too before hitting Hartman's. I'm assuming they are in Gunnison.
    They are, you will pass the store (in an old house) on the way out to Hartman's. Just look for the porch with bikes sitting on it on your right. Fun, small LBS where the folks will treat you right.

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    Back from my first, but definitely not last trip to the above mentioned places. Wow, I have seen the Promised Land and it is called Crested Butte. During my trip I was able to ride: Snodgrass, 401, Upper Loop to Tony's, Doctor's Park, Monarch Crest, a little Hartman Rocks, Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman's, Lupine, then a little more Hartman Rocks. I'm really glad I had a full week to explore the area. HAving said that, I could have used about 2 more weeks to hit many of the other trails I missed out on. I guess there is always next year :-)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ride_today714 View Post
    Back from my first, but definitely not last trip to the above mentioned places. Wow, I have seen the Promised Land and it is called Crested Butte. During my trip I was able to ride: Snodgrass, 401, Upper Loop to Tony's, Doctor's Park, Monarch Crest, a little Hartman Rocks, Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman's, Lupine, then a little more Hartman Rocks. I'm really glad I had a full week to explore the area. HAving said that, I could have used about 2 more weeks to hit many of the other trails I missed out on. I guess there is always next year :-)
    Where are the pics???!! As they say, pictures or it didn't happen!
    FR
    "It's NEVER all downhill" DMR

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    I would love to post some photos...

    ... but I just tried and it didn't work the way it suggested under FAQ section. I will attempt another way and see what I can do

  10. #10
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    Pulled into CB on Friday 7/22.


    Didn't waste anytime heading up on my first ride.


    Wild flowers off of Gothic Rd.


    Views abound in CB.


    As mentioned, first ride in town was Snodgrass.


    Looking up the Snodgrass Trail.

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    Sweet, I figured it out. I will post some more....

  12. #12
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    Saturday 7/23 I rode 401 with fellow forum members BDkeg and Snowgypsy.


    This was the most significant snow encountered all week. This was on Gothic Rd near Emerald Lake.


    Made it to Schofield Pass, where the single track begins.


    Looking up the 401 trail.


    And looking down the 401 trail. Wow, they were not exaggerating about the views!


    Yours truly rolling through along through the wild flowers.


    Post-ride beer at Brick Oven Pizza. Good times in CB

  13. #13
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    Saturday afternoon, hit up the Upper Loop just above town.


    More wild flowers to ride through.


    Rolling back towards to town.


    After my ride I went in search of the MTB-HOF on Elk Ave. to pay my respects to those who blazed the trails we ride today.


    Guys like these.


    Some year 2000 alums.


    This guy's bio cracked me up. Is this a real person???


    Seeing as I ride a Specialized, this one hit close to home

  14. #14
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    Looks awesome, Thanks for sharing!

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    Thanks for the pics. I am doing the same trip (CB, Hartman's, Monarch Crest) three weeks from now. This thread is getting me "fired up".

  16. #16
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    Doctor Park in CB


    Sunday July 24th headed out on the Doctor Park ride. This ride came Highly recommended from many, and it did not disappoint. The one down side of the ride is the several miles of road climbing involved. However, it was mostly easy grade on the road, and you after the first 1/2mile or so of downhill, you've completely forgotten about the climb


    Rascally marmot just off the road.


    Hike a bike across Spring Creek. I understand this crossing can be very swift during peak run-off, so check on conditions before heading out.


    After the road climb and crossing Spring Creek, the 'real' climbing begins on ATV double track. Fellow forum member Smmokan ahead of some other riders on the climb.


    Nearly done climbing by the time you enter this forest.


    Finally, after a couple hours of climbing we reached the trails high point. Steve M. leads the way. Unfortunately, I did not have time to take photos during the blazing downhill as I was too busy negotiating the technical sections, enjoying the whoop-de-doos through the Aspens and grinning ear to ear. Suffice to say, if you head to CB to ride, you want to find this trail!


    Steve coming out the bottom of Doctor Park. From the top, you will have a blazing fast, smooth section, followed by Very technical, but fun rocky section, followed by an incredibly buff section of flowing ST through the aspens, and finally another Very technical switchback section to end the ride. Good stuff!


    Doctor Park instantly became an all time favorite after riding it

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    Monarch Crest


    On Monday 7/25 I took a travel/rest day and headed toward Salida to ride the Monarch Crest trail the next day. I opted for the 'scenic route' over Cottonwood Pass. Beautiful views from the 12,000ft vantage point at the top.


    Signed up for the 8am shuttle Tuesday morning that leaves from the US 50/285 junction in Poncha Springs. Was told the earlier shuttle is preferred due to potential for late afternoon storms.


    Heading up to Monarch Pass.


    One person's transportation of choice for the ride.


    About to start the Epic ride. The official Monarch Crest ride is 35miles point to point, gaining 3589ft and losing 7848ft along the way.


    Signing the register to mark the occasion. Met this dude, Wade on the shuttle. He was on a road trip from Vancouver, BC. We ended up riding the M.C. together. Always nice making new friends out on the trails


    After the initial climbing, there is some sweet single track rolling along at roughly 12,000ft elevation.


    Needless to say the views are pretty awesome along the way


    One of many junctions you come to along the way. I purchased the map sold at the convenience store where you meet the shuttle. I found it very helpful for the first time riding this trail.


    Gazing out across the mountain tops.


    Beginning the very fsat and fun Silver Creek descent.


    Further down Silver Creek.


    About to start the last section on the Rainbow Trail. This is considered the 'true' way to finish the Monarch Crest ride, so that's the way I chose. The other option is to bail out on the lower portion of Silver Creek but this is more of a jeep road. If you choose the former, plan to save some gas in the tank-it is a butt-kicker. If you are wasted from the first 26miles, are out of water, or caught in stormy weather, consider the latter option.


    On the Rainbow Trail.


    About 5miles to go, starting to feel it now. Fortunately, we had good weather for most of the ride.


    One of a dozen or so short, brutal climbs awaiting the rider along the Rainbow Trail. Ouch.


    Mile 32 or so, our luck rain out and we got rained on. Nothing serious, like 10-15minutes of steady rain. But enough to make the last 1mile or so of descending trail quite the adventure!

  18. #18
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    Excellent photos, and a great trip that has me ready to head that way next. I have an old buddy living in Gunnison that could show me around.

    Was the high altitude a problem for you, or do you ride at high altitude already? Thats my biggest hurdle anytime ive ridden at 6K and 7K ft and I can only imagine how bad 10-12K would hurt.

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    Riding at Altitude

    Glad you enjoyed the pics. If you have an open invite to visit your buddy, go ahead and plan a trip. You can 'warm up' altitude wise by spending a day or two riding at Hartmann Rocks which is a nice trail system right in Gunnison. The altitude didn't really effect me too much as I have lived in SLC, UT for the last 4yrs and regularly ride the resort areas there (lots of riding at 8k and above). However, I did make a point of getting in a few grunt climbs the week or two before my trip which definitely helped my cause. When you ride in CB (elev 8885ft), it might help to ride a couple of the lower trails first-like Snodgrass to Lupine, Upper Loop, and Strand to name a few. These are all close to town and as far as I know don't get too high in terms of top elevation. I've been meaning to post pics from the other rides I did on this trip-including Hartman Rocks. I will try to do so shortly. Happy Trails
    P.S- FWIW, I understand riding CB when the leaves are changing is ideal.

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    Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman's loop

    A little belated, but I thought I would throw up some pics from the rest of my trip I did last month to the Crested Butte area. Thursday 7/28 I was back in C.B. and headed out to ride the Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman's loop.


    Heading up the Reno Divide Rd at the start of the ride. This is the first of three significant climbs on this ride. It is all forest road and is just under 6miles to the Flag Creek junction.


    Made it to Flag Creek, and man was this a sweet section of single track.


    Another look down Flag Creek.


    Hooked up with the Bear Creek Trail at just under 9 miles into the 20 mile ride.


    Riding along Bear Creek.


    Starting up Deadman's Gulch Trail. Man, pack a lunch for this ride because by the time you reach this point you've already climbed a couple thousand feet (3000ft of climbing total in the ride) and I was dragging a bit for sure. I try to console myself by remembering I had been riding lots the previous days and was therefore pre-exhausted.


    Heading into the Deadman Gulch's switchbacks section-all 32 of them. Exhilarating way to end a burly ride.


    End of the ride.


    And post-ride reward: Secret Stash pizza. When you visit C.B. search this place out. Good stuff

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    Hartman Rocks Recreation Area

    These last pics are from the two separate rides I did at Hartman Rocks in Gunnison, CO.


    Hit the trails on Wednesday 7/27 when I was heading back from the Salida area. The area offers 40 miles of single track and 33 miles of road that area that are open to mtn biking. Many of the trails are multi-use, so don't be surprised to see motos, trail runners, and horses.


    View as the rider starts out from the main base area.


    These maps were available at the kiosk at the base area. Also can be found at the local bike shops. On this day I did an out and back on Beck's and Rocky Ridge, then took The Notch to Collarbone Alley.


    Heading onto Beck's.


    Line options as you head up Beck's.


    A couple shots of Rocky Ridge.




    A couple shots from The Notch Trail.


    Choose your line wisely.


    Happy to say I survived Collarbone Alley with limbs intact


    On my way back home Friday 7/29, I hit Hartman again. This time I rode Rattle Snake, Sea of Sage, The Luge, Water Treatment, Alonzo's, and Free Fall.


    Rattle Snake. Great trail, great views along the way.


    Heading into the aptly named Sea of Sage. Great flow on this trail!


    Decided to check out the gnarly double black Free Fall Trail.


    Yup, pretty gnarly.


    Switchback section.


    Looking back up the trail.


    End of a great week of riding. If you pass through Gunnsion, CO definitely check out the Hartman Rocks area!

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