Crested Butte, Colorado – Trail Running

Endless opportunities exist around Crested Butte’s beautiful high Alpine terrain with plentiful maps and trail descriptions.

Mt. Crested Butte with Summer wild flowers

Mt. Crested Butte with Summer wild flowers

I had a short visit to CB South in Aug 2015 and was able to get a few jogs done.

CB South from Caves Loop Trail

CB South from Caves Loop Trail

1)  “Caves Loop TrailFarris Creek, Walrod Cutoff, Walrod Gulch Road & Cement Creek Road – Forest Service Road 740. Trail #’s 409 & 418.

Total Loop Distance – 5 miles.

Elevation Gain – 938 ft.

Trail Head – 8760 ft.

High Point, junction above Caves – 9698 ft

Caves on Cave Loop Trail

Caves on Cave Loop Trail

On my first morning in CB South I asked a local runner, Rene, if she knew a good 4 to 5 mile run. She dragged me round Caves Loop and I suffered up the steep first mile with my sea-level lungs gasping for air. Views from atop the caves were magnificent. A little higher we came to a trail junction and I followed Rene along Walrod Cutoff with very pleasant downhill running. We then turned onto the “jeep trail” (Walrod Gulch Road) and then took a small trail which parallels Cement Creek Road back to the trail head and car on Cement Creek Road FSR 740.

2) A Big Day. Walrod Gulch Road jeep trail. I jogged 3 miles up the jeep trail to approx. 9500 ft.  on pretty rough rocky hard-packed road before turning round and heading back to the car, which I’d left at Caves Loop trail head – see above.

The downhill run was pretty speedy, but I took a tumble landing hard on my shoulder and left elbow amidst rocks. I rolled to my back, felt winded and pain, then checked myself over. All appeared OK except for deep, bleeding grazes on the elbow, no broken bones thankfully. I told myself that it didn’t hurt, stood up, checked I was OK again then ran the last mile back to the car.

Next – Mt. Crested Butte 12,162 ft.

CB Mountain Resort Base

CB Mountain Resort Base 9,115 ft

Back at the accommodation I had second breakfast, a shower and some attention to my bloodied elbow from Ingrid. Our plan was to hike to Mt. Crested Butte’s summit by way of the service road up to the highest chairlift plus the last mile of trail and scrambling to the summit. Most people ride the Silver Queen Express chairlift, (tops out at 11,340 ft), then hike the summit trail because elevation gain from base is fairly substantial. Our round trip was 11.5 miles.

Ingrid & I atop CB summit

Ingrid and myself on CB summit

CB Mountain Resort from CB summit

CB Mountain Resort from CB summit

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hike up was fairly leisurely taking just over 2 hours from base to summit. Along the way we saw many mountain bikers enjoying prepared downhill terrain; they took chairlift rides up with their bikes. Very few mountain bikers ascended the service road route we hiked; we saw only 2; and 1 Mule Deer.

Atop the summit views were spectacular, and there were dozens of university students clambering around the rocks and ridges. They were on a day out from Western University in Gunnison. Two young guys (aged 18) had run up from the base taking just over 1 hour – I was suitably impressed especially as one of them had just arrived from San Diego and was not adjusted to altitude. They inspired Ingrid and I to jog down though; so after clearing the rock scramble section we jogged back down to base. I took just less than 1 hour, Ingrid just over 1 hour. We both slept well that night.

Total distance for the day – 17.5 miles all at high elevation.

Total jogging distance for the day – 11 miles and only one wipe-out!

Mt. Crested Butte Summit

Mt. Crested Butte Summit

3) Last run of the trip. Cement Creek Road – Forest Service Road 740. I parked at Caves Loop trail head again and just did an out-n-back 6 miles along the hard packed road passing the Forest Service Campground. I was being a little cautious because I didn’t want to fall and land on my sore left elbow again. I think I bruised the bone and that takes quite a while to heal.

Eldo brewpub Crested Butte

Eldo brewpub Crested Butte

Excellent pint of Ruby Anthracite IPA – went down a treat after a hard day on the hill.
Running Specialty Group