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401 Trail Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.6 (408) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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Map Key

14.1

Miles

22.7

KM

60%

Singletrack

11,335' 3,455 m

High

9,584' 2,921 m

Low

2,249' 686 m

Up

2,222' 677 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

29%

Max Grade (16°)

Dogs Unknown

E-Bikes Unknown

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Chuck McQuade

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 407 votes

#10

Overall
  4.6 from 407 votes
5 Star
73%
4 Star
20%
3 Star
5%
2 Star
2%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#4

in Colorado

#10

Overall
1,651 Views Last Month
150,338 Since Apr 4, 2013
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
1%
31%
18%
50%
0%

Photos

Bars-deep in wildflowers on Crested Butte's 401 Trail.
Jul 28, 2015 near Crested…, CO
401 is known as one of the premiere mountain bike trails for a reason.
Jul 22, 2014 near Crested…, CO
On the way to 401 Trail - Emerald Lake is a must stopover!!
Oct 6, 2016 near Crested…, CO
Wildflowers galore on Crested Butte's famous 401 Trail
Aug 7, 2020 near Crested…, CO
It is the blur of color from the wildflowers. Don't let the views distract you too much. Most scenic ride I have ever done!
Oct 12, 2016 near Crested…, CO
Once you get into the aspens, 401 starts getting interesting and fun!
Sep 26, 2019 near Crested…, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
Bad / Closed 16 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

May 29, 2022
Dominic Koh
Mm. I wee .
Sep 24, 2021
Nate Vogel
Sep 17, 2021
Cherie Thang
40mi — 3h 15m
Sep 17, 2021
Logical Thinker
Sep 11, 2021
JM LaSalle
21.8mi — 3h 41m
Sep 10, 2021
Tim K
So so fun, high alpine ripping with some great exposure! Finally ticked this sucker! With Dan and Chris
Sep 10, 2021
Maureen Petterson
Sep 7, 2021
Lucas John Gajewski

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