Located in the rugged terrains of Crested Butte, Colorado, Trail 401 has a reputation that precedes it. Hailed as one of the most scenic mountain bike trails in the world, this intermediate loop offers a mixed bag of awe-inspiring landscapes, thrilling descents, and challenging climbs. With a distance of 14 miles, this trail is not to be underestimated. But is it worth the hype? Read on to find out.
To access Trail 401, start from Crested Butte and drive north past Mt. Crested Butte on Gothic Road. Roughly 7.5 miles later, you'll find the parking lot for Judd Falls. Your adventure begins here.
Trail 401 starts with a long, grinding climb up Gothic Road for about 4.5 miles towards Schofield Pass. Turn right onto Trail 401 and expect more singletrack climbing. Your efforts are rewarded at the summit, where you'll get a panoramic view of the Maroon Bells to the east. The views here are unmatched, providing a "top-of-the-world" sensation that seems to compensate for the physically demanding ascent. Whether you are a flatlander or coming from the hot, muggy climates of the East Coast, you're likely to find this climb worth the effort.
After soaking up the vistas, prepare for a thrilling downhill ride. You will zip through fields bursting with wildflowers and maneuver around aspen groves. While the descent provides an adrenaline rush, it's not all downhill from the summit. Expect two more steady climbs before you make it back to your car.
The trail receives mixed reviews:
Trail 401 brings you panoramic views, the thrill of downhill sections, and the challenge of steady climbs. Though some may argue it's overrated, the general consensus remains: if you are in Crested Butte, the 401 is not to be missed. Whether you'll find it a cyclist's paradise or just a good ride likely depends on your personal preferences and past experiences. Either way, you're in for an unforgettable biking adventure.