401 Trail Loop

Consensus:    (details)
  4.7 from 125 votes
blueBlack  Intermediate/Difficult from 44 votes
Rank: #1 in the Crested Butte area
#5 in CO, #19 Overall
Views: 36,086. Last 30 days: 2,511
Condition Details | Update
Aug 22 Green - Dry and tacky!
Featured Ride in the area near Crested Butte,
“The Crested Butte mega classic! High alpine meadows with unbeatable views.”
Chuck McQuade on Apr 4, 2013
Getting There     GPX File     Print
13.722.1 milesKilometers 2,264’690 m Ascent 11,339’3,456 m High 6% Avg Grade (4°)
60% Singletrack -2,241’-683 m Descent 9,583’2,921 m Low 27% Max Grade (15°)
2:44 average time for 14.6 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.
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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PHOTOS of 401 Trail Loop
  5.0 from 6 votes
Bars-deep in wildflowers on Crested Butte's 401 Trail. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.8 from 5 votes
Starting a well earned descent on Trailriders Trail 401. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.6 from 5 votes
401 is known as one of the premiere mountain bike trails for a reason. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.6 from 5 votes
The larkspur were a highlight on the 401 Trail. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.7 from 3 votes
Great views! (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.7 from 3 votes
High Alpine Meadow Beauty (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.5 from 4 votes
One of the most beautiful valleys through which to ride your mountain bike. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.5 from 4 votes
Love the big views on the 401 (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.5 from 4 votes
Just hitting the singletrack after the climb up to Scofield Pass (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.5 from 4 votes
The grins keep coming on this descent. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.3 from 3 votes
Fun fast downhill through fields of sunflowers. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.3 from 3 votes
July wildflowers and stunning views of the valley. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.3 from 3 votes
Hi ho, Hi ho, it's up to 401 we go! (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.3 from 4 votes
From here, it's all downhill. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.2 from 5 votes
Skunk Cabbage Speedster (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.3 from 4 votes
The 401 - no filter needed... ever. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.0 from 4 votes
Beginning of the downhill with views of Mt. Baldy. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.0 from 4 votes
Heading up the big road climb to Schofield Pass. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.0 from 3 votes
Looking back at the mountains from the 401 Trail. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.0 from 3 votes
The view at the top of 401 is amazing. (Crested Butte, CO)
  4.0 from 2 votes
It's hard not to love the 401 trail! (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.8 from 5 votes
View of Mt. Crested Butte from 401 descent. (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.8 from 4 votes
Cresting the 401. (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.8 from 4 votes
It was raining on the climb to the top when I got to the top the rain st... (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.8 from 4 votes
And the fun begins! (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.6 from 5 votes
Wondering if I'm about to get struck by lightening before the coolest de... (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.7 from 3 votes
Fireweed and Gothic Mtn in the foreground, Mt. Crested Butte in the back... (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.7 from 3 votes
It is really hard to keep my eyes on the trail. (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.7 from 3 votes
At the top of 401. (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.7 from 3 votes
View after starting the descent. Amazing views. Many stops to simply tak... (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.5 from 4 votes
Early summer aspen run. (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.3 from 3 votes
Wooden bridge. (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.3 from 3 votes
Views like this for miles! (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.3 from 4 votes
Cruising the 401 in early July (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.3 from 4 votes
401 Bonus trail descent. (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
At the top! (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
401 Trail Loop, you have to blur the views to concentrate on the trail. (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
Towards the top of 401 climb looking back at the Maroon Bells (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
Dense flowers and tight aspens. (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.0 from 2 votes
The Hand-off (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.0 from 2 votes
The descent begins (Crested Butte, CO)
  3.0 from 1 vote
Descending the 401 with some nice shade-providing clouds (Crested Butte, CO)
  2.7 from 3 votes
Holy Cow! Exactly what I said when I saw them blocking the trail. (Crested Butte, CO)
  2.3 from 3 votes
When you see this sign it means 1 more mile uphill climb. (Crested Butte, CO)