The Classic Central Colorado MTB Road Trip

Take a classic Central Colorado road trip from Denver International Airport to the world-renowned destination of Crested Butte.

Greg Heil


Dakota Ridge Provided directly by author

by Marcel Slootheer

Creative Commons: Attribution
unnamed-2 (1).jpg
Airing off one of many rock slabs. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Marcel Slootheer

Top of the Nice Kitty climb. Photo: Greg Heil

unnamed (1).jpg
Rock slab airtime. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Marcel Slootheer

DSC_3441_00001-2000px (1).jpg
The section of iconic berms. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Marcel Slootheer

IMG_2709 (1).jpg
Top of the Nice Kitty climb. Photo: Greg Heil

Near Breckenridge. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Mike H.

0, 0

Nearing the top of Georgia Pass. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Mike H.

The route’s high point: Georgia Pass, above treeline. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Mike H.

Nearing the end of the route, just down valley from Breckenridge. Photo: Greg Heil.

Above Breckenridge. Photo: Greg Heil.

Looking down from the top of Georgia Pass toward the South Park Valley and Kenosha Pass. Photo: Greg Heil.

First Descent Photographer

by Tom M.

Licence Free

Epic Antora View Photographer

by Greg Heil

Licence Free

2016-07-09 09.05.38-1 (1)-compressed.jpg
Sweet Singletrack Photographer

by Greg Heil

Licence Free

Ouray Airtime Photographer

by Marcel Slootheer

Licence Free

Riding Beneath Ouray Photographer

by Marcel Slootheer

Licence Free

Old School Cribbing Photographer

by Greg Heil

Licence Free

One of many breathtaking corners on the 401 Trail. Rider: Andrew K. Photo: Greg Heil.

Looking down valley toward Gothic. Photo: Greg Heil.

Greg Heil descending the 403 Trail

by Marcel Slootheer

Marcel Slootheer climbing up 403

by Greg Heil

Greg Heil on Trail 401

by Marcel Slootheer

Creative Commons: Attribution


If Crested Butte isn't on your mountain biking hit list yet, well, it's time to add it.

As one of two towns where mountain biking began in the USA, Crested Butte is arguably the original mountain bike destination. But unlike some mountain bike destinations where the trails have been closed to bikes or that haven't kept up with the times, new trail development has kept the Crested Butte trail system fresh and entertaining.

Unfortunately, Crested Butte isn't close to anything. If you're traveling from out of state—or out of country—you could fly into the Gunnison airport… but it's not cheap. So, your next most logical option is to fly into Denver, which unfortunately is a whopping 4 hours and 30 minutes of driving away.

But don't despair! Along the way from Denver to Crested Butte, you'll drive by some of the most famous trails in Colorado—trails like Buffalo Creek and the Monarch Crest. You can't just drive on by without sampling these world-class rides, so why not turn your expedition to Crested Butte into the perfect Central Colorado MTB road trip?!

This guidebook gives you the 4 must-do trails along your journey from the airport to Crested Butte, and culminates with the two best rides in Crested Butte. Begin your journey with a technical acclimatization ride on Dakota Ridge, then head up to Little Scraggy in the Buffalo Creek trail system. Tag Georgia Pass via the Colorado Trail from Kenosha Pass, then hit one of the best-known rides in the country: the Monarch Crest. Finally, settle into Crested Butte life by shredding Doctor Park and the burly 804 Loop.

What if you have more time or are more ambitious with your riding days? Well, you could always drive further from Denver and head to a destination like Durango, but that adds a lot more driving to your route. Instead, simply add in more trails along your existing route.

If you want to spend more time in one place, tack on more rides in Crested Butte—check out the dedicated Crested Butte guidebook, here.

If you want to hit more trails along your route, fill in the itinerary with some of these options:
Apex Loop
Buffalo Creek IMBA Epic Loop
Midland Trails
Cottonwood Loop
Hartman Rocks

However you choose to mix and match the routes from this guidebook, one thing is certain: this will be one of the best mountain bike road trips of your life!


Dakota Ridge Loop

One of the most technical trails on the Colorado Front Range—an enduro rider's dream!

Little Scraggy Loop

New school flow combines with Buffalo Creek's classic granite rocks and beautiful views to create the popular Little Scraggy Loop.

Colorado Trail: Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge

This beautiful section of the Colorado Trail offers high-quality bike-legal singletrack the entire way, making for an ambitious day ride or an excellent portion of a bikepacking route.

Monarch Crest

This epic trail provides high alpine ridge top riding at treeline with views for hundreds of miles in all directions, finishing with a ripping descent down the mountain.

Doctor Park Loop

Not only is it considered the best backcountry singletrack descent in Crested Butte, but Doctor Park ranks as one of the best singletrack descents in the nation!

The 804 Loop

A beautiful high-alpine trail connected into a mega loop.