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This trail started my love affair with biking when a friend invited me on a camping trip in Crested Butte. We camped by the East River below the Deer Creek trailhead and rode the Strand Hill trail from our campsite - it was my 4th time riding a mountain bike and it wasn't pretty, but I had a blast. This trail is great when you don't have a lot of time as it can be ridden in about an hour. I describe it as roller coaster-y - lots of fun ups and downs. It's also a good place to find some solitude - while you may run into a couple people here and there, you generally have a lot of the trail to yourself (or the occasional free-range mountain cow grazing in the aspens), even during the busy summer season. It's super peaceful late in the day when you wind your way down through the shadowy forest. And it's a gorgeous fall ride with plenty of aspens. Good stuff Maynard!
You definitely want to ride up the Canal Trail to Strand Bonus to Strand Hill proper. Do not ride straight up the motherf#$cker road from the base of Strand Hill - it's a needless suffer fest when there's a much more pleasant option. However, that pleasant option does come with wet feet... you have to cross the farmer's canal, which has water in it for the bulk of the summer. There's multiple choose your own adventure options to make this a longer ride - one of my favorites is to ride from town to Tony's Trail / Upper Loop / Bridges / Whetstone Vista, then continue on Brush Creek Road until you hit the Canal Trailhead. If you're out of steam on the way back you can continue on the dirt road till it turns to paved, riding almost to the highway and then bang right on the super easy Deli trail. Another in-between option is to take the dirt road/paved road, turning right on Skyland Dr and then left on Country Club Dr which will run into the short Divine Trail at the end, which connects to the Upper Loop for a short bit before you bang left on Tony's Trail, downhill to town. Be sure to download the CBG Trails App (Android), (Apple) and then download "Colorado Trails" so they'll be available offline and will track your location.
Lori's Favorite Photo Spots
1. There's a myriad of scenic shots on the climb up the Strand Bonus trail - so just take your pick. It's particularly spectacular-ific in the fall with mass blocks of aspens on the hillsides with fluffy blue clouds floating in endless bluebird skies or get great trail shots in the aspens. You'll hit the road for the end of the climb, which is also gorgeous in the fall with the thick aspens.
2. The view from the top - once you're done climbing, there's a trail sign and a log where people take a snack break. There's good views of Teocalli Mountain and the Castle peaks over the tops of the aspens. Maybe snap a pic with your bike leaned against the trail sign. In July, there's also a great wildflower concentration behind the log. Get up in there for some wildflower closeups of Columbine, Lupine and the statuesque head high Monument Plants. Or get the wildflower closeup shot with the mountain peaks in the background.
3. The swoop-y backwards "S" with Teocalli Mountain in the background.
4. The "funnel" makes a great frame for the mountain peaks behind.
5. Again, there's endless options for great shots in the aspens on the descent, so take your pick. Don't forget to check out the view back up the trail behind you too.