3 Favorite Rides in the Taylor Park Trail Area

A Crested Butte resident, Brittany Walker Konsella is an explorer and adventurer at heart.  She became the second woman to ski all of Colorado’s fourteen-thousand foot peaks in 2011 so it was only natural for her to be drawn into the TrailQuest Challenge.  In 2017, Brittany co-authored Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes: Colorado with her husband, Frank Konsella. Brittany continues to build her life around exploring and experiencing the outdoors through hiking, mountain biking, and skiing and she writes about those experiences on 14erskiers.com.

 
Taylor Park is known by most as being used heavily by motorized bikes and ATV’s, but the same trails that are enjoyed by motorized users can also be enjoyed by those who wish to pedal. And, in fact, the motorized use in this area gives the trails a unique character that many riders will like.

In terms of TrailQuest, the Taylor Park region is geographically bound by the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness to the northeast and the Continental Divide to the east. It’s southern borders are defined by CR-742 going to Taylor Reservoir as well as FS-765 and CR-267 leaving from Tincup. The western boundaries are a little less obvious, sometimes defined by parts of Spring Creek and Cement Creek Roads as well as the popular Bear Creek and Flag trails.

Though this area is motorized, moose still are prevalent in the Taylor Park Region. This area is also rich in dry pine forests, which make for great riding, and wildflowers are plentiful in alpine elevations. The motorized nature of these trails makes some trails fast and flowy, but leaves others steep and technical, the perfect blend for many mountain bikers.

Mountain bikers don’t tend to ride many of the trails in the Taylor Park Region. But, I think the trails here are high quality and can be enjoyed by motorized and non-motorized riders alike. Despite the motorized reputation of the Taylor Park region, I found in my plentiful rides here that encountering motorized users was actually rare, except on busy summer weekends.

1)Star Lily and Lily Pond

Statistics
Total Distance: 21 miles
Elevation Gain: 3000 feet

Star Lily and Lily Pond were two trails hidden away in the Taylor Park area that are surprisingly fun gems to ride. Making these into a loop with parts of the nearby Star Trail completes the diversity of the ride, adding more technical and scenic terrain.

To start this ride, we parked at the intersection of the main Taylor River Road (FS-742) and Italian Creek Road (FS-759). We rode up Italian Creek Rd which climbed easily at first, and then very steeply after 2 miles. The climb on the road was close to 8 miles, but the scenery above treeline was fantastic.

view from star lily trail crested butte colorado

We turned left onto Star Trail and enjoyed the steep technical descent through the forest for a little over a mile and then turned left onto the Star Lily Connector Trail.

mountain biking star lily crested butte

Star Lily Connector was over 2 miles of fast and flowy trail until the intersection with Lily Pond Trail. To complete the full TrailQuest Mileage, we opted to turn right onto Lily Pond Trail, climbing upward toward the Lily Pond. After a short climb, the trail mostly was mixed bursts of short ascents and descents and offered some fun mountain biking. After reaching the Lily Pond 2.2 miles past the Star-Lily Connector, we enjoyed the banked descent of Lily Pond trail. This descent definitely made the extra mileage to go to the Lily Pond worth it.

mountain biking star lily trail crested butte

We passed Star-Lily Connector and continued another enjoyable 0.9 miles down Lily Pond. At the end of Lily Pond, we followed Italian Connector Road up for ¼ mile to the start of Lily Trail, which offered another fantastic 0.9 mile descent. We then followed Taylor River Road back to our car.

lily pond trail crested butte

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2)Tilton from Taylor

Statistics
Total Distance: 9.25 miles
Elevation Gain: 2400 feet

This lollipop loop is full of wildflowers, stunning mountain scenery, and a sweet technical descent off of Mt. Tilton (12,415’). At just over 9 miles, this ride is a great bang for your buck on singletrack.

We parked our car at the end of Taylor River Road, which is the start of Mt. Tilton Trail. The trail climbed very gradually, following the headwaters of the Taylor River.

tilton trail mountain biking

Eventually, the trail crossed the river, where it began to climb more steeply before intersecting with the Taylor Divide Trail after 1.6 miles. We took a right onto this trail and continued following it upward for 1.3 miles, then taking a left onto Taylor Pass Divide Road. This technical road eventually became the Brush Creek singletrack trail, one of the more scenic portions of our ride. We were riding beneath Star and Taylor Peaks among beautiful wildflowers for well over a mile.

tilton trail wildflowers and mountain biking tilton trail with star peak in the background

We took another left at Crystal Peak Trail, which descended and then ascended through beautiful alpine tundra toward Crystal Pass. At the top of the pass, we continued ascending the steep Mt. Tilton trail, hiking our bikes most of the way, until we reached the summit. From the summit, most of the Mt. Tilton trail is rideable toward the east for experienced riders.

high alpine riding crested butte colorado

We enjoyed the technical descent for over 3 miles all the way back to our car!

descending back to taylor park from tilton

3)The Long Doctor Park

Statistics
Total Distance: 26 miles
Elevation Gain: 3700 feet

Doctor Park is one of the more popular rides in the Crested Butte area. The most popular way of riding this trail includes just over 5 miles of this magnificent trail. Yet the whole Doctor Park Trail, in its entirety, is 26 miles long. What’s more, the best views from the trail are missed with the shorter loop. Riding Doctor Park from start to finish is a special ride that takes mountain bikers through miles of varying ecosystems and terrain, with a few fun descents in the mix.

This ride is best done as a shuttle, leaving one car near Harmel’s for the finish, and one car at the start of the trail on Taylor River Road, just north of Taylor Reservoir. The ride is best started on Trail 600, which intersects Taylor Pass Road just across from FS-742.3D. We started riding through the flat sage on Trail 600, eventually climbing upward to meet the start of Doctor Park Trail after almost a mile. From there, the trail steepened as it continued to climb up over loose rock/sand trail. The total first climb lasted about 6 miles before beginning a short descent.

doctor park mountain biking crested butte

The next 5 miles continued through some more moist and scenic pine forest, with short bursts of up and down, finishing with a mile long fun descent. Another 1.8 mile climb brought us to our maximum elevation for the day, and we were rewarded with magnificent alpine views.

doctor park trail crested butte

From there, we began our long descent, following Doctor Park Trail the whole way. Some of the best descending was the next few miles.

doctor bonus trail crested butte riding doctor park mountain biking crested butte colorado

A short climb brought us back to the traditional Doctor Park descent. We enjoyed this fast and flowy ride downward to our car parked near Harmel’s!

mountain biking doctor park trail crested butte

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