Early evening sunlight filtered through the impressive aspen forest of the Snodgrass trail in early summer, lighting up the leaves that are just starting to bud. I had the trail all to myself on this early June evening, when the trail had first melted out from the heavy spring snows. Pretty sure there are gnomes and fairies residing in this magical forest. Read my insider tips and favorite photo spots in the "Trail Info" tab below.
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The Snodgrass Trail is a magical place, home to gnomes and fairies (I'm quite sure of it). The aspens here whisper if you stop and listen closely. It is a spectacular place to ride, hike, run, ski or snowshoe. In June, the aspens start to bud and the new leaves are the most vibrant shade of spring green that glows in the sunlight and the heavenly (but subtle) scent of lavender lupine blooms fills the air and frames Mt. Crested Butte for some spectacular photos. And at the end of the trail and along the dirt road, you'll witness the most stunning display of dandelions on Planet Earth - you'll wonder why anyone ever thought it was a weed worthy of eradication. During July, the thick, tall aspens on the mostly shady trail offer a cool respite from the high altitude sun, even at high noon. The trail is beginner friendly and very roller-coastery. If that isn't an adjective in the dictionary, it should be and I'm coining it. The trail closes in early August for cattle grazing -- please, please, please respect this closure as the land is privately owned and we want to keep the privilege of riding in this gorgeous area. The trail opens back up for winter sports.
The trail itself is short (4 miles). It can be ridden as an out and back or joined up with multiple other trails. I enjoy starting on Snodgrass and then linking it up with the Lupine and Lower Trails to make a loop starting from the town of Crested Butte and riding up the road to Snodgrass. If your lungs are altitude challenged, you can put your bike on the free shuttle bus from the town of Crested Butte and get sherpa-ed up the hill to the parking lot. Be sure to avoid the grueling climb up the dirt road at the beginning (you can see uninformed people grinding up as you look up the hill from the parking lot) by taking a right and following the signs to Teddy's trail shortly after carrying your bike up and over the fence at the beginning. This is a MUCH more pleasant way to start the ride with a scenic meander through fields of mules ears and corn lilies, along with a gentle, steady climb through the aspens to the top of the trail. Be sure to keep your wits about you as there are some handlebar-biting aspen trees (narrow spots) that lurk near the last mile of the trail, where you're likely to be flying at top speed while giggling like a giddy school girl or unleashing a yeeeeee haawwww if you hail from a wild west state. As it is one of the shorter trails accessible from town, it is heavily trafficked by hikers, runners, horseback riders, etc, so please also be courteous to others enjoying the trail and keep your speed under control. Don't be THAT guy. 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.
1. In the aspens... take your pick!
2. About halfway, there's an open spot with a wide open view of Mt. Cb, along with the other peaks behind town where people always seem to congregate for a break/snack. You can "hide" the houses and get pictures of the peaks by squatting down in the lupine (purple/blue flowers) and getting a closeup of the flowers with the peaks in the background.
3. Right before the trail opens up to a wildflowery meadow and fenceline near the end of the trail, there's a very sharp switch back before an old wooden billboard - look into the grass to the left of the switchback - this is always a columbine hotspot. Get in there for a close up shot.
4. You'll be zooming so fast down the trail along the open fence line at the very end of the trail that you will be tempted not to stop, BUT I highly recommend you do (especially when the Lupine are blooming). When you come to the tiny footbridge over the tiny creek, stop, turn around and look back - the view of the lupine, singletrack, fenceline and Gothic Mountain in the background make for a stunning shot (and the source for some of my paintings!). Also be sure to look into the creek - during the early summer you'll see marsh marigolds (white flowers, yellow centers) blooming.