Strand Hill is a local Colorado mountain biking favorite near Crested Butte that features lung-busting climbs, grin-inducing descents, and a few technical sections to challenge advanced riders.
There is much debate about where mountain biking originated, but one thing is for certain: You’ll always hear Crested Butte mentioned when discussing pioneers of the sport. It goes without saying that world-class trails are abundant in the heart of the Elk Mountain Range. After the skis and snowboards are put away for the winter, the trails in the area are often snowed in or too muddy to ride, but Strand Hill is one of the first to dry out, making it a great early-season mountain bike ride.
The trail can be ridden to from town, but it can also be shortened into an 8-mile loop by parking at the Brush Creek Trailhead off County Road 738 and riding northeast for 1.5 miles until you reach a gate on the right side of the road. The ride officially begins here.
It ascends Strand Hill immediately over doubletrack, offering expansive views of the eastern side of Mount Crested Butte. After about three-quarters of a mile, take the left fork in the road to continue up Strand Hill. Then keep right at the intersection with the Strand Bonus Trail a half mile later. Aspen trees become more dense near the top, and that’s where the fun really begins.
The trail turns to single track and gets fast and flowy through aspens and open farmland. In this section you'll encounter a couple of steeper, rocky drop-offs that test one’s bike handling ability. Hike-a-bike is always an option through here. After navigating the technical spots, the trail ascends briefly before the junction with the Canal Trail. Taking a left, the trail descends through fields of grass and wildflowers in the summer and back down to County Road 738. Make a left and ride two miles back to the trailhead to round out the loop.
If you’re looking for a shorter, less crowded alternative to the popular Trail 401 and you don’t want to sacrifice scenery, suffering, or smiles, look no further than Strand Hill.