Most mountain bikers in the USA, and even abroad know of, or have heard about Crested Butte’s 401 trail. While doing my research for the “Gunnison / Crested Butte trails, I probably read 100’s of excellent comments and remarks about the 401. Mountain Bikers, Magazines and books all rate this trail as one of the “Best Singletrack Trail” in the USA. The best comment I read , was
If I knew I was going to die next week, I would wish to ride the 401 one last time.
So, did the 401 knock Hall Ranch [my favorite trail so far] from the Top Spot?
Trail Stats & Information
Nearby City: Crested Butte
Length: 14.5 total miles
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: Aerobically: strenuous, with several steep climbs. Technically: easiest-difficult
Duration: 2.5 to 3.5 hours
Trailhead Elev: 9750 feet
Top Elev: 11200 feet
Guide Book Description
If you are only in Crested Butte for a day, this is the ride to do. Trail 401 has mind-boggling singletrack, spectacular views, and beautiful alpine wildflowers. This is easily one of the best rides in the Crested Butte area and is a must-do for any mountain bike fanatic. Do this ride! Tread: 5.1 miles on doubletrack and 9.4 miles on singletrack
Who would not be excited to ride the 401?, I was really looking forward to this ride, especially seeing as I had been stuck in Buena Vista for a whole week freezing my nuts off, and was not able to ride!
I based myself in Gunnison, and did the very scenic 50 min. drive to the Trail head, the drive itself was well worth it, with all the different fall colors.
I found the start of the trailhead without any problems, and at 10.30am on a sunny Tuesday morning, I was ready to hit the 401.
Now, I hate riding on “roads” to reach a trail, but in this case, the 5+ miles climb on “Gothic Road” up to Shofield pass was different, the road is very scenic, which made me forget I was actually on a (gravel) road.
The climb was not too bad, but the high altitude ( and probably too many pizzas in Buena Vista) was obviously taking it’s toll. Just 30 min. into my ride, a young lady overtook me, now, that happens all the time, but I actually passed this young lady 8 miles back while I was DRIVING to the trailhead, and she was overtaking me just 30 min. into my ride.. so, I was pretty bummed with myself!!.
Once at the top of Shofield Pass, the singletrack veers off to the right. BUT, if you think the party starts here, think again, the 30 min climb you have in front of you, is do-able, but brutal.. the good thing is, you are going to be rewarded.
At the top, you fantastic 360 degree views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
Now the Mayhem begins 9.5 miles of sweet singletrack, and I just like most people would do, just opened up.. I was screaming down the trail, too fast to make the very slight bend, and I airborn’d the trail, landing about 12 feet below, lucky for me and the bike, our landing was pretty soft.
The rest of the trail was sweet, somewhat bumpy and extremely scenic, the trail went from being open, to disappearing into the woods, with some really nice switchbacks. About 3 hours after I left, I was back at the trailhead…
There is no doubt that this is a fantastic ride, with fantastic scenery and it is easy to see why it is so many people’s favorite, and I would definitely want to ride the 401 again, and I highly recommend it. However, the 401 did not give me the same buzz as the Hall Ranch Trail in Lyons Colorado gave me
Traffic on Trail : 3 mountain bikers on the 401
Wild Life : Deer
Scenery : Stunning 360% Scenery
Other : Even though this is a 2 way trail, I myself would NEVER start the climb on the 401 from the trailhead, this trail is just too fast going down.
My Trail Rating : 8.5 / 10