Bike difficulty: intermediate

 Hike difficulty: moderate

 Round trip distance: 7 miles

 Bike loop from town: 10.7 miles

 Lupine Trail on Google Maps (click to follow)

 Travel Crested Butte: Lupine Trail (click to follow)

By Liz Simpson

I’m not gonna lie: I was a little bit nervous to mountain bike one day after arriving at Crested Butte’s 8,900-foot altitude. Saturday morning came a little too quickly and my compatriots were a little too excited for me to do anything but swallow my fears and jump on my bike. The ride out of our Airbnb was uphill and hard, so I was convinced of my impending doom not even five minutes into the ride. After a couple more slope-y hills (and a lot more panting on my part) we arrived at the trailhead. Of course, I was out of breath and red-faced, but by that time the stunning scenery and picture-perfect weather were starting to win me over. “Ok, friends,” I thought, “I won’t die and this might even be worth it.”

Our chosen path was Lupine Trail, a beginner to intermediate mountain bike trail above the town of Crested Butte… and what a path it was! We quickly understood the reason for its name, as the trail carried us through hundreds of lupine on the green hills outside CB. A gorgeous, flawless aspen grove provided an intermission from the blue flowers, its tall white trunks and bright green leaves waving above more lush slopes. All the while, the sun pleasantly cooked the meandering stream below us and the snowy peaks above us.

Our climb culminated in a small meadow with views out of a Swiss fairytale. Although I would’ve accepted literally any excuse to get my buns off my bike for a few minutes, this spot of heaven required no justification. Our break was perfectly positioned above aspen and a small lake, far enough from CB to forget the town altogether and nestled beneath several mountains. Any concern I had for my aching lungs and shaking legs evaporated. More than anything, I was struck with gratitude: we are so fortunate to live in Colorado! In only a few hours we can drive to scenery, activities, and shops to rival any destination in the country.

Our ride back through town concluded, of course, with brews. Fried calamari, cauliflower “wings,” and a juicy burger perfectly capped the adventure, and I couldn’t have been more satisfied as we wandered downtown before catching the free shuttle to our condo. The journey was a success, I did not die, and no one stopped smiling for the rest of the day.