Doubletop to 409 And A Half

(Last Updated On: August 28, 2011)

Once upon a time in the early 1990’s, a Crested Butte guidebook proclaimed Doubletop to be the very best ride in the area, above now well-known classics like 401, Doctor’s Park, as well as now-closed due to Wilderness expansion rides like Oh-Be-Joyful. So it was during my first summer here in Crested Butte in 1997 that I quickly made my way to Doubletop. My main memory of that ride was a frightening lightning storm amidst the rolling terrain near timberline on this trail. I rode it a few other times over the next few years, but what I quickly realized was that whatever the trail once was, it was that trail no longer. The combination of steep grades, soft soil, shady tree sections that take a long time to dry out, and increased usage by dirtbikes doomed this trail in short order.

These days, Doubletop is a poster child for the dirtbike destruction that has befallen so many local trails, rather than a local classic. The vast majority of local riders have never bothered with it, let alone any visiting riders. During the summer of 2010, the forest service took extraordinary measures, dropping pallets of cinder blocks along the trail in an attempt to armor it and save it from further erosion. Trail reroutes and a closure to dirtbikes would have been a much more successful option, though Doubletop’s extreme popularity with the moto crowd would likely make that a difficult choice to make by the Forest Service. In any case, I was hopeful the trail work would make a return trip to Doubletop worthwhile, and I convinced Tom Runcie to join me.

Sadly, all the trailwork was only in the first mile after the Block and Tackle intersection, with the rest of the trail worse than ever. Thankfully, the scenery and a few good sections of trail remain. Tom:
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Teocalli:
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Castle, still holding some snow:
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Star and Taylor:
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Tom:
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One of the many sections of badly braided trail:
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More shots of Tom and the surrounding scenery:
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With rain approaching, Tom and I didn’t stop for any more photos as we bombed down 409 and a half, still one of my favorite downhills in the valley. I added on a quick descent of Strand Bonus as well, and the rain finally caught us near the Skyland golf course. No worries, we knew exactly where we were headed:
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While it was great for me to get on a trail I hadn’t been on in ten or more years, it was disheartening to see it remain in such sorry shape. It looks like I’ll have to wait until returning again. Here’s the route we took: Upper-Brush Creek-Block and Tackle-Doubletop-409.5-Strand Bonus-Brush Creek-Brick Oven. My bike computer needs a new battery, but it’s probably close to 40 miles. We were out for over 6 hours including stops.

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Frank Konsella

Frank loves snow more than anything... except his wife.  He ensures his food is digested properly by chewing it 32 times before swallowing.He is a full-time real estate agent serving Crested Butte and Gunnison and would be honored to send you his monthly newsletter.

Frank Konsella

Frank loves snow more than anything... except his wife.    He ensures his food is digested properly by chewing it 32 times before swallowing. He is a full-time real estate agent serving Crested Butte and Gunnison and would be honored to send you his monthly newsletter.

6 thoughts on “Doubletop to 409 And A Half

  • August 29, 2011 at 6:19 pm
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    40 mi of a mountain track in 6h now that’s a nice pace. I’m just wondering what the elevation profile is like (don’t know how to call it – mean ratio of ascents and descents) as in the area where I ride the most mountains are not as high but the trails are pretty steep and you need to push it hard only to go down very steeply some mile later. So it sometimes takes 6h to just make 25 miles.
    Sadly, I’ve recently also noticed a similar thing happen to the trails I used to ride some 10 years ago. They’ve changed over the years for worse, unfortunatelly. Some of them, just like Doubletop, wasted by dirtbikes, some others by aggressive logging activities. Had it not been for the good memory of turns and other trail characteristics, I wouldn’t have recognized some of those I took this year. Sad to hear the same thing happen to yours.

  • August 29, 2011 at 6:21 pm
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    Oh, and I particularly liked the final stop 😉 No wonder you had the motivation to make it to the end.

  • August 29, 2011 at 7:44 pm
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    Michal-

    It is indeed frustrating to see trails change for the worse, or simply close completely, but of course there is always a new trail or a “new” old trail to check out and possibly fall in love with, and so it goes.

    As for the elevation profile (yes, you said it correctly :)), we banged out a lot of miles on a relatively easy dirt road before hitting the very steep climb of Block and Tackle, as well as many other short and steep climbs on Doubletop itself. The miles (km) on the singletrack itself did not go quickly. After the singletrack, we once again had some easy roads on the way back to town. The overall elevation gain was probably in the 5-6,000′ range (~1,800 meters or so).

  • August 30, 2011 at 9:21 am
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    I recently had the pleasure of riding from cement creek up to 409.5, then around strand to bait and tackle, and back over to cement creek. cement creek trail (bottom of bait and tackle), showed some of the most irresponsible trail use I have ever seen, all of it by motos.

    It looked like they were getting ready for a re-route, but the area is very low and wet. The trail crosses at least 4 sections of marsh / stream where motos have rutted in 5 or 6 different routes across the stream. Terrible to see that happen anywhere.

    It is ironic that while motos created most of those trails, they’re going to lose access to them in the future unless they can become aware of the consequences of their actions.

  • August 30, 2011 at 10:53 am
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    Sweet long ride, Bryan! Sadly, there’s a lot of rough areas out there, especially the ones that stay wet. Worse still, there are quite a few moto riders out there that will continue to ride closed trails and the areas around Reno divide and Doubletop have numerous pirate moto trails, and all of those are a mess. On the other hand, I recently rode Doctor’s Park, with its brand new no moto signage, made all the more complete with the addition of a discretely parked Forest Service vehicle ready to bust any offenders.

    The moto crowd has done a great job convincing mountain bikers that they built all the trails, but that simply isn’t true. If you read up on some of the local history books, you’ll see that most of the trails here were actually built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the depression. Yay for government bailouts! 🙂

    I’ll give motos this one though: They clear out the vast majority of downed trees.

  • September 1, 2011 at 10:56 pm
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    Agreed. doctors park is most pure and unadulterated mountain descent in Colorado. nothing but a thing of beauty. will be on it this weekend for sure…

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