Crested Butte Mountain Biking: Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman
Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman Gulch is a combination of 4 trails that make up 3 notable climbs and 3 awesome descents. Long climbs to tree line, technical descents, more climbing, smooth flowy descents, more climbing, and a ridiculous amount of switchbacks. You get to enjoy all of this in a remote area east of Crested Butte. Riding through deep timber, open meadow, crossing creeks and hammering out some power climbs are a few of the characteristics you will encounter on this classic.
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From Crested Butte head down HWY 135 to Cement Creek Road. Turn left and head up Cement Creek Road (FR740) for 7 miles to the Deadman’s Trailhead. You can park anywhere on Cement Creek Road if you are looking for more miles. The Deadman’s Trailhead is where you will complete the loop after you descend the Deadman’s Gulch Switchback, making it a convenient start location. Hop on the saddle and continue up Cement Creek Road. You will see a piece of singletrack straight ahead that follows Cement Creek, but continue on the road up the switchbacks. Your next intersection will have you taking a right on Italian Creek Road (FR759) and veering off Cement Creek Road, starting the climb up to Reno Ridge.
Reno Road will only last 3 miles, but in those 3 miles you will climb 1,400 ft topping out at 11,121 ft. Once you reach Reno Divide, break from the trees showcasing beautiful views of surrounding mountains and thick pine forests. You will notice a handful of different roads and trails here, find the Flag Creek Trail (422), it heads in the most southerly direction. Flag Creek descends nearly 1,000 ft. in 3 miles, paralleling the Flag Creek drainage. After the descent, encounter another junction, take a right across Flag Creek and get your climbing legs ready, this time climbing up the Bear Creek Trail.
The climb will start on steep singletrack before mellowing out on dirt road. Once the road tops out, the Bear Creek Trail will open up to a large meadow. The trail will gradually parallel Bear Creek closer and closer before crossing the creek a number of times. The trail will continue through a pine forest before the trail opens back up at the Deadman’s junction.
You will take a right at the junction leaving behind Bear Creek, eventually climbing to 10,613ft and the top of the final descent of the route. The top of this climb is steep, so save your legs for the end. The final descent is famous for its switchbacks, over 30 of them. the Switchback are extremely fun, and you can get going at a pretty good click in between a few. Once you hit the bottom your arms and brakes will be exhausted. When reaching the valley floor, you will then need to negotiate Cement Creek (no bridge), which can be high in the early part of the summer.
Top of Reno Road
Cement Creek area is very active with dirt bikers, please be carful when descending around tight corners, they have also created moto ruts, something to think about when you are descending. This is another one of those trails that is typically not open until June as the upper elevations reach 11,000 feet. There are different variations of this trail such as riding Reno Ridge, but this is by far the best way to do it if you are visiting for a short period of time.
Enjoying this trail? Help support the people who maintain it. Donate to the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association.