401 Trail Loop

 156 votes

13.7 Miles 22.1 Kilometers


60%

Singletrack

2,264' 690 m

Ascent

-2,241' -683 m

Descent

11,339' 3,456 m

High

9,583' 2,921 m

Low

6%

Avg Grade (4°)

27%

Max Grade (15°)

All Clear

1 day agoUpdate

The Crested Butte mega classic! High alpine meadows with unbeatable views.

Chuck McQuade

Overview

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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4.6 from 156 votes


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Check-Ins

Jul 22, 2017
Tedd Arcuri
One of the best rides of my life. Wildflowers smacking me in the face, hooting and hollering all the way down. Some challenging climbs that are 13.7mi
Jul 20, 2017
Bill Frasure
Jul 1, 2017
The Turk
13.2mi
Jun 25, 2017
Corey B
Rode 3.5 of the uphill started into the trail and got shut down by super high snow drifts and partial trail visibility had to turn around :( 7mi
Jun 18, 2017
Dennis Evans
Snow drift, avalanche, and down trees impede movement on this trail. Very much a frustrating Hike & Bike. 9.6mi
Jun 17, 2017
Greg Evans
Trail is a hot mess; several avalanches have covered the trail with snow, trees, and other debris. Several other spots with downed trees crossing t...
Feb 5, 2017
Nicole Bogenschuetz
Oct 23, 2016
Lisa Dreier

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Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 156 votes

#14

Overall
  4.6 from 156 votes
5 Star
72%
4 Star
21%
3 Star
4%
2 Star
3%
1 Star
0%
Rankings

#6

in Colorado

#14

Overall
5,654 Views Last Month
57,029 Since Apr 4, 2013
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

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5%
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Conditions


All Clear 1 day ago
Muddy - Open
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Photos

Where do i park my car and ride in from? Jul 12, 2016


Got to enjoy this last weekend. Very little traffic on the trail which was great. Parked at Judds and rode up to the TH then the climb to the top, which was some WORK. the descent was very nice because a lot of it doesn't have vegetation high enough to block your view of incoming traffic. I'd forgotten once you get to the "bottom" there is more climbing, totally forgot that. Tons of flies and mosquitos if you have to stop so try to keep going Aug 7, 2016


Rode this yesterday. one snowdrift you still need to walk over on the way up Schoffield, but pretty easy. There are a few fallen tress across the trail on the way up from the road to the top of the pass. But once you get to the top, the downhill is in great shape. Got stuck in a major hailstorm cuz I left too late in the morning. this ride you want to do early if expecting thunderstorms. Jul 14, 2017


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