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401 Trail Loop

Consensus:    (details)
 4.7 from 46 votes
  Intermediate from 1 vote
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Rank: #1 in Crested Butte
#2 in Colorado
#4 Overall
Featured Ride near ,  
“The Crested Butte mega classic! High alpine meadows with unbeatable views.”
Chuck McQuade on Apr 4, 2013
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13.7 Miles 60% Singletrack 2,264’ Ascent -2,241’ Descent 9,583’ Low 11,339’ High
Overview
2:40 average ride time for 13.7 miles. Details

The definition of alpine mountain biking. The loop provides endless views of Colorado's breathtaking Elk range, winding its way around alpine lakes, through aspen groves, while immersing riders in shoulder high skunk cabbage. This ride ranks among the best of its style, and the among best in the area.
Description
The loop begins with an easy 5 mile climb up the Gothic road to Schofield Pass. At approximately mile 4 it is not uncommon to come across "The Plug" an almost permanent snowfield across the road. A quick hike-a-bike will place you in view of Emerald Lake with a short distance remaining until the famed 401 singletrack begins.

At the top of Schofield Pass, the famed singletrack of the 401 Trail veers right starting with a tough and consistent climb for 1.3 miles through dense trees. Near the top, the grades gets easier, the trees open up, and the views behind you are stellar. The climb isn't really all that hard - nothing technically - but your lungs will keep reminding you are at 11,000 feet above sea level.

Then the payoff begins. The unsurpassed 360 degree alpine views of the Elk mountains, followed by the first of the steady downhill. After descending a few hundred feet, the trail flows fast and gently downhill with stunning views in front of you and flowers all around in mid-summer. For much of the top part of the descent you're hugging the hillside, with a steep drop to the right, which can mess with your equilibrium. There are a few very skinny sections that are easy but have very bad fall potential. Take your time and savor it!

You'll intersect with the Bellview hiking trail and take a right. This section has several switchbacks and has begun to get a little rutted out, but it's generally fast and flowy with great traction all the way. When conditions are good, the middle section of the 401 descent is about as fun as mountain biking gets.

Once down to Rustler's Gulch, take a breather because the climbing begins again. This point also provides an exit back to Gothic road if the weather turns for the worse. Otherwise continue your tour through the Ruster's Gulch camping area, and follow the 401 trail into the meadow above the campsites.

The trail climbs for about a mile and is technically a bit harder than earlier sections, though still fine for fit intermediate riders. You'll pass thorugh a drainage with lots of rockfall, and most people walk their bikes a few feet to get through it.

One final descent takes you to the outskirts of Gothic. Please respect the trail signs here and avoid private property.
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COMMENTS
OTHER RIDES NEAR HERE
5.0 (3)
A life-changing 485 mile ride on the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango.
near Columbine Valley, CO
4.4 (9)
One of the best rides in the valley.
near Crested Butte, CO
4.3 (3)
One of the best out and back rides in Crested Butte.
near Crested Butte, CO

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PHOTOS of 401 Trail Loop
 4.8 from 4 votes
Starting a well earned descent on Trailriders Trail 401. (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 4.7 from 3 votes
High Alpine Meadow Beauty (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 4.7 from 3 votes
Great views! (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 4.3 from 3 votes
The grins keep coming on this descent. (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 4.3 from 3 votes
Love the big views on the 401 (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 4.3 from 3 votes
Just hitting the singletrack after the climb up to Scofield Pass (Marble, CO)
 4.3 from 4 votes
One of the most beautiful valleys through which to ride your mountain bike. (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 4.0 from 4 votes
Skunk Cabbage Speedster (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 4.0 from 2 votes
It's hard not to love the 401 trail! (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 4.0 from 2 votes
Hi ho, Hi ho, it's up to 401 we go! (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 3.8 from 4 votes
View of Mt. Crested Butte from 401 descent. (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 3.5 from 4 votes
Wondering if I'm about to get struck by lightening before the coolest de... (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 3.3 from 3 votes
Early summer aspen run. (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 3.3 from 4 votes
Cruising the 401 in early July (Crested Butte, CO)
 3.0 from 4 votes
401 Bonus trail descent. (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 3.0 from 3 votes
Towards the top of 401 climb looking back at the Maroon Bells (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 3.0 from 3 votes
At the top! (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 3.0 from 2 votes
The descent begins (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
 3.0 from 2 votes
The Hand-off (Mount Crested Butte, CO)
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