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A Complete Guide to the Crested Butte Evolution Bike Park
About the Evolution Bike Park
The trails around Crested Butte may be world famous for their epic views, wildflower blooms, aspen fall colors, killer descents, and lung-burning climbs, but have you ever considered checking out the Evolution Bike Park?
Well you should because it’s pretty rad. And considering that Crested Butte is at almost 9,000ft your poorly-adjusted body will thank you. Lift-service is quite nice…
Miles of trail:
30+ miles of singletrack
High: 10,335 ft
Low: 9,380 ft
Vertical descent: 955 ft
Number of lifts:
1 high-speed quad
There are over 30 miles of singletrack networked throughout the Crested Butte Evolution bike park and it offers plenty of options for pretty much all type of rider (full-on DH mountain bikers might find it a tad ‘easy’).
There are fast flow machine-built tracks like Hotdogger and Awakening and there’s rocky, rooty old school stuff like Wood’s Trail and Captain Jack. If you like crazy there’s also Psycho Rocks.
If I was just visiting the Crested Butte area for a few days, the Evolution Bike Park would be worth at least one full day, maybe two if you’re a true downhiller.
Lifts and Tickets
Evolution Bike Park Lifts
There’s only one lift for mountain biker’s and it’s Red Lady Express. The elevation at the top is 10,335ft, so the gasping is quite normal.
The bike racks on this lift are a bit different than the one’s I’m – and probably you – are used to because they’re hanging racks instead of bucket racks.
It’s a bit nerve-wracking at first, but the lifties are on it if they see you struggling.
Buy tickets at the bike shop right in front of the Red Lady Express lift. You can also buy them online to avoid the long lines.
The 30 miles at Evolution bike park goes quick. If you’re charging, you can definitely ride every trail in the park in a day.
There is a progression scale if you’re new to mountain biking that suggests “warm it up”, “step it up”, and “speed it up” trails →
I really love Hotdogger as a warm-up. It’s fast and flowy and not at all technical. It’s a great way to start at day at the bike park.
Other good trails that are on the easier side are Awakening (so awesome!), Lower Awakening, and Frequency. These trails are especially spectacular in the fall when the aspens are changing.
As for the jump trails like Avery and Timeline, they aren’t my favorite, but they’re worth checking out. I find the kickers and tabletops at Evolution Bike Park to be hard to judge and clear, but I’m not the most comfortable in the air, so maybe it’s just me…
Crusader is probably the most challenging jump trail with man-made features likes drops and ramps.
If you want some old-school stuff head over to Wood’s Trail, which is one of my favorites on the mountain for its rocky gardens and steep pitches. There are some cool wooden features to test your skills as well. Step it up big time on Captain Jack and Psycho Rocks. Both are expert trails and require honed rock garden-navigating skills.
Perhaps my favorite run on the mountain is Westside. It’s rocky, fast, old-school, and long. It’s also a hiking trail, so watch out for pedestrians!
If you want a bit of pedaling (remember that you’re at 10,000ft) head out to Meander or Prospector. They’re an easy pedal if you like XC stuff.
You could also link up Meander to Snodgrass and take Washington Gulch Road to the paved bike path that climbs back up to the bike park. Amazing views of the mountains and the resort.
Evolution Bike Shops & Rentals
Evolution Bike Park Rental/Demo Center: located right at the base of Red Lady Express, the Evolution rental/demo center has a fleet of tuned-up DH and trail bikes as well as full body armor. You can also buy park tickets here | (970) 754-0033
Handlebar Bike Shop: Handlebar bike shop in town offers Norco and Intense bikes for rent | (970) 251-9169
Big Al’s Bike Shop: Big Al’s probably has the widest selection of bikes in Crested Butte. They offer premium, mid-range, and standard bikes for all level of rider and budget | (970) 349-0515
Trails Outside The Evolution Bike Park
Evolution Bike Park is pretty awesome, but I think I would get bored after two or three full-days on the lift. So it’s a good thing that Crested Butte has some pretty amazing trails spread throughout the surrounding ridges and valleys.
Below are a handful of my favorite. Be prepared to “earn your turns”, though. Most trails require a hefty grunt before you start descending.
Dr. Park: SO FUN. This is by far my favorite – and many other’s – trail in Crested Butte. The descent is long, fast, varied, and truly epic. The only caveat is that there’s a brutal 3 mile fire road climb to get to the top… Add on another 9 miles if you don’t have a shuttle… You could shuttle allll the way to the trailhead (like we did ?) if you have a high clearance 4×4 vehicle.
401 Trail: This is probably the most iconic trail in Crested Butte. It’s beautiful and not too difficult to access or pedal. In the spring when the wildflowers are blooming the scenery is simply incredible. Either shuttle to the top or grind up Gothic Road.
Strand Hill: This is a fun and relatively easy loop about 20 minutes outside of town. You could add it on after doing the Teocalli Ridge Trail (which I didn’t really love…) but it’s a great standalone loop as well. The climb it manageable and the down is super duper fun. On TrailForks the Strand Bonus is the climb and the Strand Hill is the down.
Where to Eat and Drink
Secret Stash: The best pizza in Crested Butte!
Sherpa Cafe: Authentic and tasty Himalayan food
Ryce Asian Bistro: A super popular Asian-inspired restaurant with delicious noodle dishes and big portions
Bonez: Good Mexican food on Elk Ave with DIY guacamole and creative drinks
Public House: A cozy place to grab a burger and beer
Third Bowl Homemade Ice Cream: It’s named Third Bowl for a reason…
Camp 4 Coffee: A super cute place to grab coffee and a pastry in the morning
Princess Wine Bar: My favorite bar in Crested Butte (they serve great cocktails too!). Super chill with a beautiful garden and live music
Where to Stay
Oh Be Joyful Campground: a rustic and remote campground about 7 miles from the bike park. No services
Gothic Campground: pretty far out there, but gorgeous. No services
Cement Creek Campground: about 14 miles from the bike park, a forest service campground with toilets
Hotels: There are a lot of hotels in Crested Butte to choose from. Top of the list is Cristiana Guesthaus – a family-run bed and breakfast located in downtown CB. They offer bike storage and two bike cleaning stations!
Best Time to Visit Evolution Bike Park
The Evolution Bike Park opens in early June and closes down in early October. Toward the end of the season (late September-ish) the Red Lady Express is only open on the weekends, but you can still pedal the trails during the weekday if that’s your thing.
As for when to go, anytime during the summer is really great. The wildflowers in the spring are stunning – especially on trails outside the park – and in the fall the golden aspens make the views pretty magical.
Find Out More
Have you ridden Crested Butte’s Evolution Bike Park? What’s your favorite run?