Snodgrass, 403, 401 Loop

Ride Details

Difficulty: Difficult
Status: Open, Seasonal Closure
Distance: 29 mi.
Avg. Time: 5-7 hr.
Climb:4890 ft.
Trail Type: Singletrack/Road Mix
Descend:4884 ft.


Starting at the Snodgrass trailhead, this is TRULY a CB Classic!  Snodgrass is a SEASONAL trail – please heed the signs and respect ranching operations and private property.  Snodgrass usually closes Mid-August – just as good to do the loop without Snodgrass, or from Town.

Snodgrass starts with a dirt road climb and you are quickly on singletrack, often surrounded by wildflowers and views of Mt. Crested Butte that make the ride a winner from the start.  Wrapping around Snodgrass Mountain, you wind up at Washington Gulch Road.  Make a right and head West up Wash Gulch and get ready to climb!  A good kind of climb, she gets you up there, past the old school town of Elkton, up the final switchbacks to the start of the 403 track.  Right onto the track and get ready to bust a lung, but ride through wildflowers and alpine track to make you melt!  The top of the climb rewards with a STAGGERING view of the Maroon Bells, and (5) 14’ers.  Bust out the lunch and the treats and enjoy this portion of Paradise, then get ready for an amazing descent. The start of the descent is a bit rough – as in very technical and steep – but well worth it.  It soon chills a bit for some rallying contouring, some technical steeps, some handlebar high Veratrum (often misnamed ‘skunk cabbage’) and amazeballs flowers.  Bottom out on Gothic road, shake out the hands and be grateful you live in the age of disc brakes (old times did this with cantilever brakes – pay homage), then turn left to head to 401.

Up Gothic Road past Rustlers Gulch, keep the eyes on the prize for this gem of a climb past Emerald Lake, up to Schofield Pass.  At the pass, head right on the start of the 401 track, and though you may be in a tough spot, only 9 – 15 more minutes of climbing is about to bring you somewhere you will actually spin around in a melee of wildflowers and sing ‘The Hills are Alive with the sound of….’ Suck down some water and eat a bit more, then get ready to grin ear to ear for an 8 mile alpine descent amongst the most famous and best on the planet.

Finish the first portion at Rustlers Gulch, and either exit there for Gothic road and ride back to the Snodgrass Trailhead, or continue on lower 401, exit at Judd Falls, and continue to the Snodgrass Trailhead.  PLEASE remember to ride slowly through the town of Gothic on the way back, it’s the oldest Biological Laboratory in the US and there are scientists, students, cars, gazers, and marmots on the road – be kind to them and keep the speed down.  Then get after it on Gothic Road back to Mt. Crested Butte.


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