Crested Butte Trails: Strand Hill
Each year the snow piles up and the singletrack gets buried in feet of snow. When the sun creeps higher and spring hits, mountain biking tends to be on everyones’ minds. Unfortunately, many trails don’t melt out until June apart from a few: Lupine, Upper Loop/Whetstone Vista and the Strand Hill trail system. Strand Hill is most certainly a locals’ favorite and a great intermediate trail to get you ready for the season, or Crested Butte riding in general. Strand offers rewarding climbs, fun descents, and a few technical features in between.
Need a bike? Located on Elk Ave, Big Al’s Bicycle Heaven has rentals for every ability and age level, along with trail advice and any gear you’ll need.
|Highlights:||Power climbs, fun root drops, a 3 season favorite|
|RT Length:||9.2 miles|
|Elevation Gain:||1039 feet|
|Max Elevation:||9,763 feet|
|Trailhead Elevation:||8,928 feet|
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If you ride this route from town, you can access Brush Creek Road from the Deli Trail/Path, Whetstone Vista and the Upper Upper Trail. With so many options, you can always take a different trail on your way back. If you choose to drive to the trailhead, hop on HWY 135 to the Skyland neighborhood entrance, which is Brush Creek Road (FSR738). From here you will continue on the road for 2.5 miles where you will see Brush Creek trailhead and a parking lot on your left. Find a spot and get ready to hop over your saddle. Continue on Brush Creek Road for 1.6 miles until you see a narrow piece of singletrack. While you will not see a trail sign, this is the Canal Trail and the beginning of your singletrack experience.
You will have to slog through a ranching canal which can be high at times, usually during the peak summer months, but relatively low during the spring and fall. A short hike-a-bike follows the creek, and a steady but mellow climb begins. The trail will contour the lower, northeast portion of Strand Hill. Shortly after you will hit the Strand Bonus intersection, stay right on Strand Bonus. This trail is a little more rough with some steeper pitch climbs then the Canal Trail. The trail will head in a southerly direction before it intersects with the Strand Hill Road.
You will take a left on the road and start the steep and rocky climb to the top of Strand Hill. The grade will ease up at times giving you a breather, but the middle of the climb has a large and steep rock garden that would be considered the crux of the entire climb. After a half mile of climbing you will exit the aspens for a large open field, where you will soak in the beauty of Teocalli Mountain to the north. Strand Hill Road continues for a short while but take a left on Strand Hill Trail (556).
The singletrack trail will quickly head across the field and down though some roots and rocks. The trail weaves through aspens beginning with a number of root drops some larger then others. you will also experience a few power climbs that will last a bit longer then you would hope, breaking the flow, so be ready. The 2 mile section from the top to the intersection of Strand Bonus will have you descending a total of 600 feet. From here, head left on a short section of Strand Bonus, then back onto the Canal Trail and back to Brush Creek Road.
There are a few alternatives that you can take, maybe one of the most popular is nixing the Canal and Strand Bonus Trail and climbing Strand Hill Road. Strand Hill Road is 1.4 miles from the Brush Creek trailhead, and can be seen on the right side. Although it cuts off singletrack, the road climb is very steep. Please know that this land is used by cattle, there are a few cattle gates that you may have to open or close depending on the season. CBMBA is currently in the process of installing roll over ramps to avoid this. These are multi purpose trails, be sure to dismount your bike and get off the trails for equestrians. Strand is a beautiful trail during the fall as the majority of the trees you encounter are aspens.
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This full service Crested Butte bike shop sells all levels of mountain, road, FAT, and city bikes for all ages. Voted Best Bike tune since 2007, this shop knows bikes. Whether you’re looking for trail conditions, a quick tune, or just a good bike convo Big Al’s is the one stop shop!