Branham Snyder boosting some early morning jumps. Nic Alegre photo.
After riding enough bike parks, they all start feeling the same. Flow trail after flow trail, jump after jump, they all seem to melt together into one. Well, Crested Butte’s Evolution Bike Park somehow manages to stand out in a stacked field of competitors. I couldn’t tell if it was the lack of crowds or crazy Aussies (that’s you I’m talking about Whistler), the insanely beautiful views, the perfectly built and maintained trails, or the low-key, down-to-earth attitude, but this place does not suck.
Earlier this summer, as part of TGR’s 2017 Bike Test, I spent a week lapping the park on this year’s freshest mountain bikes with a crew of amazing riders and new friends. We took advantage of all that Crested Butte has to offer, stacking up thousands of feet of vert on the mountain, and enjoying fun evenings downtown checking out all the best après options.
Crested Butte is famous for it’s endless backcountry singletrack trails, but Evolution Bike Park adds one more reason to make a trip to the mountain bike Mecca of Colorado. Whether it's a weekend or an extended trip, there is something for everyone here.
Whether it's technical rock gardens, smooth flow trails, or big jumps you seek, Evolution Bike Park has something for everyone. Nic Alegre photo.
On the mountain, we encountered everything from the smooth beginner flow trail, Hotdogger, to the puckeringly technical Psycho Rocks. The mountain’s 16 downhill-only trails may not seem like much, but there was plenty for everyone to enjoy. In addition to the downhill trails dropping off the top of Red Lady Express Lift, the mountain is home to a dozen more XC-style singletrack trails, all of which offer stunning views of the surrounding Elk Mountains.
My favorite trails were Luge, an intermediate jump trail that weaves in and out of the mountain’s aspen groves, and the super-fast and moderately technical Avery, a DH race track littered with jumps, rock gardens and sizeable drops. These are the kinds of trails that get more fun every time you ride them, as you find new lines through the technical sections and send each jump bigger than before.
Branham Snyder finding his flow on Woods. Nic Alegre photo.
The backside of the mountain holds two hidden gems: a pair of downhill trails called Woods and Crusader that offer a more backcountry-like experience than the highly trafficked trails on the frontside. They require a short pedal up a dirt road to access but offer up an extra 600 feet of descending down the shaded and loamy north side of the mountain. For those seeking technical, big features and high speeds, this is the place to go.
We got a sneak peak at two newly rebuilt trails: Teaser and Timeline. Timeline features the biggest jumps and berms on the mountain and several puckering North-Shore style wood features. Teaser is home to similar but much friendlier features, like twisty high-speed berms and tabletops that just begged for us to unleash our inner Brandon Semenuk.
Hailey Schiff enjoying some freshly sculpted jumps on Timeline. Nic Alegre photo.
Riding in Crested Butte is as much about the awesome trails as it is the amazing restaurants and bars on the mountain and in town. Spending a week there gave us a chance to sample the best on offer, but one of our favorites was the new on-mountain Umbrella Bar. Located a short pedal from the top of Red Lady Express, the Umbrella Bar offers hands-down the best views of the mountain, along with delicious sandwiches and drinks. The Woods and Crusader trails drop from here, making it an excellent place to stop for a quick mid-lap refueling break.
The view from the Umbrella Bar. Nic Alegre photo.
For a quick breakfast, check out the BWC Café/Camp 4 Coffee in the base area. The small, intimate café offers delicious breakfast sandwiches and croissants, exactly what we needed before a long day out on the trail.
Downtown Crested Butte, which you can reach via singletrack from the resort, features a huge selection of eateries and late-night drink spots on Elk Avenue. Pizza seems to be a theme in town, with several options ranging from the not-so-secret Secret Stash Pizza to the Brick Oven Pizza and Pub’s huge outdoor beer garden.
What better way to end a day on the trails with a pedal down Elk Avenue? Nic Alegre photo.
Much like any mountain town, the liquor and beer flow late into the night at spots like Kochevar’s Saloon, always packed with locals, and the Eldo, a tiny upstairs bar that offers some of its own brews on tap.
In a town that lives and breathes mountain biking, the existence of a lift-serviced bike park next to an already mind-blowing trail network is the icing on the cake. Crested Butte’s Evolution Bike Park and its amazing network of rowdy downhill and freeride trails should be on every rider’s destination list. It’s the real deal here, folks.
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