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Taylor Park and Crested Butte Trails

33298 Views 20 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  AkTrailRunner
For the last 7 years, our group has headed out west each summer to trail ride. The first few years saw us doing South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. The next years we were Paiute trail bound, but somehow kept getting caught in Colorado. Funny thing is, when we would stop to sleep, we would wake up ready to ride, and never quite leave the state. Heck, we made it as far as Moab, but kept returning to Gunnison National Forest area.

This years journey marked our 4th trip to the area. Our first year, we discovered that contrary to what the GPS said, Co Road 3 running from Marble to Crystal is not suitable for a bumper pulled 24 foot trailer and 3/4 ton truck.










Next returned in 2011 (2010 was a Moab year), to good health and a week allocated to explore the area. It was then our little party had a chance to experience the beauty and awe the area had to offer.




Normally, our group are 50 inch width trail types of riders. The riding around Taylor Park, offers little in the 50 inch department, but the roads and routes it did offer, overcame the loss of technical challenge and tight curves with a variety and abundance of scenery. In one week last year, we logged 362 miles. During the ride we discovered something amazing, each mountain has its own personality.

While they looked alike from afar, the flora and fauna varied slightly or significantly on each mountain. Each new ascent, exposed us to new wonders that had us wanting more. Each year, I ride with my retired parents, each in their 70's. Usually my mom, expresses that this is her last year to ride, but after each year of riding, all she could ask, is when are we coming back.




This year we allocated two weeks to ride the system. During the ride, we went over 1000 miles, and traversed every trail in the Well's book. We also hit 90% of those marked in the MUVM for the forests surrounding the area.

We took a few friends with us, from novice riders to experienced riders. We tackled the toughest trails that they had to offer, and while the novices were skittish, all were able to easily maneuver the routes taken. Most of the trails in the system are conquerable by ATV, SxS, or Jeeps. There exists a few 50 inch trails, and most of those are good and tight, but a lot of fun.

If you want a good guide, get the Well's ATV trail and travel guide for Taylor Park and Crested Butte.



The area offers primitive camping in any existing camping spot, there are also forest campgrounds and commercial campgrounds around Taylor Park, Pitkin, and Gunnison. Myself half of the beauty of this area is finding a secluded place to camp, and then setting up there. This year, we had an RV and settled down off Texas Creek Road. Previously, we had Camped at Union Park. Both Venues make an outstanding central place to Launch from.

If driving an RV, consider taking a route other than Cottonwood Pass. Our v10 powered RV found coming in from 50 to 285S at Poncha Springs, to 114, to Gunnison, 135 to Almont, and then 742 to Taylor Park the least strenous way in. With my Diesel 3/4 ton, and 24 foot trailer, CottonwoodPass saved 4 hours of driving.




There are several high points on the ride, must include venues are:

Taylor Pass, Tellerium Creek, Cross Mountain, St Elmo, Mt Antares, Hancock Pass, Alpine Tunnel, Highland Drive, Tomichi Pass, Mary Murphy mine, and the lakes behind it, Devil's Punchbowl, King Lead Basin, and Gothic Road.

There are tons, more, all are scenic and fun.

Trails are rocky, and some call rough, Many of the Michigan Flatlanders that went with me on this trip found them too rough (and too high). My parents and I found them pleasant, and a few places such as Taylor Pass, and the approach to Hancock Pass as rough. Everything else was easy going for us.



Much wildlife was seen, Moose, Elk, Mule deer, ground squirrels, chipmunks, gray jays, Hummingbirds, Marmots, Mountain Goat, Mountain Lion, mice, Pika, and many birds of pray.



My high point was Mt Anteres, where I encountered and photographed a mountain goat.

Earlier that day, I had frightened a Mountain Lion, stalking a new born calf. The mountain lion startled me, and I startled it more. It bolted like it was on fire.

In order to ride the Schofield pass and to see the old Crystal Pumphouse, you have to trailer or pull up camp and move north of 734 (Slate river road) and unload there.

We moved our RV and enjoyed this as our last day of riding.



This sign put some fear in the only greenhorn left riding with us,but he made it safely down and back without incident. The Devil's punchbowl ride, isn't really difficult, just a tad off camber, and some areas where rocks slides are offer a little rock crawling fun.

When buying supplies, try to do so at one of the more friendly locations around the area, we discovered that the people of Pitkin were much more amiable than those at the Taylor Park Trading post. If you have a chase vehicle consider heading to Gunnison to get supplies.

So if you want to experience some fun riding, check out the riding areas around Gunnison National Forest. While not too technical, the variety of scenery will more than make it worth your while.




More pics available here:

Untitled Web Page - Page 1
2009 colorado trip - Page 8
tpark2011 - Page 1
tp12 - Page 1
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