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Crested Butte's Trail 403

By David Nelson - March 15th, 2004

Another of the sensational single-track mountain bike trails near Crested Butte is the 403 Trail, which links Washington Gulch with the East River drainage near Gothic. From the high point on the trail, over 11,300 feet, there is a breathtaking panoramic view north into the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness Area.

The Washington Gulch Road (Forest Road 811) steadily climbs from Crested Butte to the trailhead at an elevation of about 11,000 feet. Another steep half-mile ascent puts you at the high point. The trail follows the ridge before making a nose dive to the East River and the Gothic Road. The downhill portion is rocky in places and very steep--better-than-average bike-handling skills are required here. Take plenty of breaks to enjoy some of the best scenery in Colorado.

Trip Planner

Route location: Due northwest of Crested Butte, Colorado in Gunnison County.

Surface: Paved county road, slightly rocky forest road and single-track trail.

Distance: 23.3-mile loop from the intersection of Elk Avenue and Colorado 135.

Ride time: Allow 3 hours to complete the loop.

Difficulty: Difficult. The 403 Trail includes 2,800 vertical feet of climbing and steep technical.

Maps: Paradise Bikes: Pathfinders Trail Map (available at Paradise Bikes, 232 Elk Avenue, Crested Butte).

Scenery: Sensational wildflowers and a great view of the Elk Mountains to the north.

From Denver: Drive southwest on U.S. 285 and then west on U.S. 50 to Gunnison. Turn right (north) on Colorado 135 to Crested Butte. Driving time: about 5 hours.


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