Located near Crested Butte, Colorado, Doctor's Park trail offers one of the most enthralling mountain biking experiences you can imagine. With its 23-mile loop and a difficulty level pegged as 'difficult', this trail is a favorite among experienced bikers. At the heart of this trail is a jaw-dropping, 5-mile downhill stretch that promises both adrenaline-pumping speed and intricate technical challenges. For those who fancy an epic day of riding, this trail can be combined with the Flag, Bear, and Deadman trails, bumping the stats up to 34 miles and almost 4,000 feet of vertical drop.
- Most riders start at the North Bank Campground and follow the Spring Creek Road up to Doctor Gulch (Trail 554).
- The ascent consists of about 8.5 miles of road that gradually opens into a vast canyon.
- After leaving the road, a right-hand turn at exactly one mile marks the continuation of trail 554, leading to the top of the ridge.
- Be prepared for a three-mile stretch of root-infested, muddy terrain after rains, especially if cattle or horses have been there recently.
The Glory of Downhill
- Upon reaching the large open meadow known as Doctor's Park, the magic unfolds.
- The initial descent is steep and rocky but delightful.
- As the trail winds through an aspen forest, it turns into a haven of fast, flowy singletrack, which most riders describe as the highlight.
- The last half-mile gets technical, demanding focus on steep rocky switchbacks.
What to Expect
- Alternate routes: The ridge top is crisscrossed with trails suitable for exploration.
- Surface: The trail covers a variety of terrain—from rock gardens and steep rocky grades to smooth, weathered granite.
- Riding time: Expect to spend the majority of time on the ascent which, though not overly steep, is relentless.
Tips and Recommendations
- Camping: Multiple formal and informal camping spots are available near Spring Creek.
- Trail Map: A Latitude 40 map for Crested Butte is highly recommended.
- Equipment: Full suspension bikes are recommended for this trail.
- Weather: Check the weather forecast as the trail can turn into a mud pit after rain.
- Shuttle Service: Consider a shuttle to save time and energy, especially for those not acclimated to the altitude.
- A must-ride for experienced bikers, Doctor's Park is described as 'stupid fun', 'fantastic', and 'the best trail ever ridden' by multiple riders.
- The trail provides a medley of ecosystems—ranging from heavy timber to open fields.
- Those with advanced riding skills can expect to complete the trail grinning from ear to ear.
How to Get There
From Gunnison, take highway 135 north to Almont, then a right on the Taylor River road (Forest Road 742), and after about half a mile, turn left into the North Bank Campground to find the trailhead.
If mountain biking could be encapsulated in one trail, Doctor's Park would be a top contender. It has just the right mix of challenge, beauty, and exhilaration to make it unforgettable. So gear up, get ready, and don't miss this high-octane adventure!