The Washington Gulch Road (Forest Road 811) steadily climbs from Crested Butte to the trailhead at an elevation of about 11,000 feet. Another steep half-mile ascent puts you at the high point. The trail follows the ridge before making a nose dive to the East River and the Gothic Road. The downhill portion is rocky in places and very steep--better-than-average bike-handling skills are required here. Take plenty of breaks to enjoy some of the best scenery in Colorado.
Route location: Due northwest of Crested Butte, Colorado in Gunnison County.
Surface: Paved county road, slightly rocky forest road and single-track trail.
Distance: 23.3-mile loop from the intersection of Elk Avenue and Colorado 135.
Ride time: Allow 3 hours to complete the loop.
Difficulty: Difficult. The 403 Trail includes 2,800 vertical feet of climbing and steep technical.
Maps: Paradise Bikes: Pathfinders Trail Map (available at Paradise Bikes, 232 Elk Avenue, Crested Butte).
Scenery: Sensational wildflowers and a great view of the Elk Mountains to the north.
From Denver: Drive southwest on U.S. 285 and then west on U.S. 50 to Gunnison. Turn right (north) on Colorado 135 to Crested Butte. Driving time: about 5 hours.