Gothic is probably the most famed riding area in all of the Gunnison Valley. That fame is largely based on one trail:
But 403 is pretty special as well.
In a valley with many beautiful views, 403 sits near the top.
A favorite combo is to ride Snodgrass from Mt Crested Butte to the Washington Gulch Rd. Turn right on Washington Gulch and ride the dirt to the old mining town of Elkton. Past the town site will be a switchback and then a leveling and 403 will appear on your right.
Climb through meadows for a mile or so to a beautiful viewpoint. Get out the camera. After that it is all downhill—some smooth and some technical—dropping you onto Gothic Rd.
From here some heavy-duty riders will turn left for the top of Schofield Pass and 401. Heading for 401 at this point will turn a great ride into an Epic Ride.
More reasonable is to turn right and head for Rustlers Gulch and Lower 401. This is a beautiful trail overshadowed by its up valley namesake. Lower 401 will drop you at the Judd Falls trailhead on Gothic Rd. just above the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and the town site of Gothic. Turn left and head back to Mt Crested Butte.
Still more reasonable after a Snodgrass/403 combo is to turn right on the Gothic Rd and return to the town. Even though Gothic is up the valley from Mt Crested Butte, it’s an uphill climb back to the town.
For Snodgrass/403 and out, give yourself 4+/- hours.
For Snodgrass/403/Lower 401 and out, give yourself 5+/-hours.
For Snodgrass/403/401/Lower 401 and out, give yourself 8+/-hours, a pat on the back and a tall glass of beer.
What makes a trail a Classic? The Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association got a call from a group of Finnish riders. “We want to come and ride Crested Butte. But we don’t want to come unless we are sure 401 will be open. When is that?”
The short answer is if you’re coming half way round the world to ride 401, then don’t come till August. Though most years July will do fine. Some folks even ride pieces as an out and back before then.
Some people ride 401 from town but the Snodgrass on Gothic Road Trailhead in Mt Crested Butte works fine. Ride the beautiful road north to Gothic and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. Continue past the Judd Falls Trailhead, Rustlers Gulch and Emerald Lake to the top of Schofield Pass.
At the top of Schofield turn right onto 401 and get ready to climb through timber. Entering a high meadow bear right at the intersection, avoiding the Maroon Bells Wilderness. Camera time.
It’s downhill time for the next hour or so. Some riders are so good they ride the entire downhill, but most of us do not. Feel free, as always, to get off your bike. Flowers and fun everywhere.
The first part of 401 drops you back at Rustlers. A decision here is to cross the creek and continue on Lower 401 or to head back to Gothic Rd and pedal out of the valley. We recommend the creek and Lower 401 that is a fine trail itself.
Tip: If you find yourself headed home at noontime you can stop at the Lab for a cafeteria-style lunch. Lunches are invariably hearty, delicious, and, if you’re lucky, will include tater tots. Lunch is served at 12 sharp and we don’t recommend arriving later than 12:20pm. Menus are posted on the rmbl.org website.
For MCB to 401 and back, give yourself 4+/- hours.
For MCB to 401 to Lower 401, give yourself 5+/- hours.
For MCB to 401 to 403 the wrong way, call your doctor.
Trail Heads 3
- Judd Falls
- Snodgrass in Washington Gulch
- Snodgrass on Gothic Road