Continuing on with our “Closer Look” series of articles, we’re pushing into summer… and summer for us is all about big mountain riding. Our three summer destinations are quite different and offer a variety of trip styles, and we couldn’t be more psyched about all three! Including Sun Valley, Crested Butte and our week-long Colorado Enduro, we’ve got something for every kind of rider out there!
Technical Level: Intermediate
Fitness Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Summary: Sun Valley in late June is our first taste of big mountain riding each year, and we couldn’t be more excited to head to Idaho to sample the goods. Typically we’ll find perfect weather (highs in the 60s and 70s) along with tacky trails, amazing wildflowers, and non-existent crowds. This trip is all about big rides in the backcountry, and we’ve put some killer point-to-point routes together to show you the best of what’s on tap.
What should you expect in Sun Valley? Big rides, and loooong flowy descents with views that go on forever. That said, you should definitely put in lots of training miles before joining us in late June. Even though the terrain in Sun Valley is on the “more mellow” side in terms of tech, the rides here always have a way of beating you down over the course of a long day. We’ll mix things up with a couple of shuttles, point to points, loops, and maybe even finish at a couple of our favorite bars in town for post-ride beers.
Ride Day 1: Oregon Gulch P2P w/ Shuttle. We’ll start our trip with a shuttle about 15 miles north of town to a drop point at the bottom of Oregon Gulch, where we’ll gradually head back to town via a series of loops and connector trails. This is the perfect first-day ride with some gradually longer climbs (but never too steep) and some killer descents to get you used to the bikes and the terrain. We’ll even let you pick the post-ride bar at the end of the day… Lefty’s or Grumpy’s?
Day 2: Castle Creek to Red Warrior to Warm Springs. Yep, another shuttle… today’s ride is a true backcountry experience where we’ll hit a long 7+ mile downhill that few people ride. The route starts with a 20-25 minute climb on Osberg Ridge before heading over to Castle Creek, which is one of our favorite raw, rugged descents anywhere. Once we hit Warm Springs Road, we have our biggest climb of the day up to the top of Red Warrior (about 5 miles), but it’s totally worth the effort since RW is always a customer fave: 5 miles and over 2000′ of ripping tech and flow! All told we’ll knock out about 21-22 miles with 2500′ of climbing and another 5000’+ of descent.
Day 3: We’re going to start with another shuttle ride, and this one is to the start of Osberg Ridge. Osberg’s all the way back to town is an absolute classic, but make sure you’ve got the legs and lungs to tackle it. Expect long climbs, huge views, incredible singletrack, and some rugged backcountry riding. Today’s ride will clock in around 25 miles with over 3500′ of climbing (and 6000′ of descending).
Day 4: We’re going to treat you to one of our favorite “short loops” anywhere… just south of town in Greenhorn Gulch. Greenhorn-Imperial is an incredible 11 mile, 2000′ loop that is the perfect topper for an incredible trip. If you’re feeling good on today’s ride and want a little more, we’re happy to add some climbing and descending to make it closer to 15 miles with 3000′ of climbing/descending.
Expected Weather: Sun Valley in early summer is absolutely perfect, with highs in the 70s and typically minimal chances for rain. Occasionally we’ll get a “heat wave” coming through that will push higher elevations close to 80*, but that’s fairly rare. If it does rain, it’s a passing shower/storm and not something that lasts all day.
Recommended Bike: Sun Valley is all about efficiency and flow, so we recommend one of our trail bike options for these trips like the Specialized Stumpjumper with 130mm of rear travel. If you’ve got the fitness and don’t mind climbing with a bigger/heavier bike, then you could definitely go with a little more travel like its bigger brother, the Stumpy EVO.
Final Word: To us, Sun Valley is the epitome of “high country epic” riding. You’ll be wiped out at the end of each day, but honestly- we can’t think of many places we’d rather spend all day in the mountains. The rides will be big and long, but the descents are truly epic and we’ll have the trails to ourselves. Make sure you train for this one, as we’ll be in the saddle for 20+ miles every day with options to lengthen rides and push even harder.. and farther into the rugged backcountry of the Idaho mountains.
Technical Level: Intermediate +
Fitness Level: Advanced
Summary: One of our most popular trips every year, this time we’re heading to CB in the summer. Perfectly tacky trails, mild summer temps and the occasional passing thunderstorm. Don’t underestimate what’s needed to have fun in CB though: make sure you put in lots of training miles beforehand, as you’ll need them. This trip has BIG climbs above 11,000 feet and big days in the saddle- but don’t worry, it’s all worth it because descents like Teocalli, 403, and Doctor Park are world-class.
Outside of the big climbs and hard riding, we’ll work in a few shuttles to maximize the trail connections and put together rides you’ll never do on your own. We know the trails here like the back of our hand because our guides helped design and build them, and we always put together a unique and amazing itinerary. There are definitely some tough technical sections on trails like the ones mentioned above, so make sure you can handle some high-speed chunk and the occasional steep line. We’re already dreaming about summer in Crested Butte, we can’t wait.
Ride Day One: Today we’re going to “ease” you into things by doing two smaller loops at lower elevation to let you get used to the bike, the thin air, and the CB terrain. The morning ride will start from our condos on the mountain and end in town with lunch at our guides’ house, and the afternoon will have a bit more of an extended climb along with a fast, rowdy descent (and a shorter flowy one too!).
Day Two: This ride is a Chasing Epic original, combining some of the best trails in the world like no one else can. We’ll hit some of the best upper Cement Creek-area trails for a “warmup” in the morning for around 10-12 miles. Once we hit the bottom of the second big descent, we’ll grab lunch and then begin the second half of our day on Doctor Park: one of the best trails you’ll ever ride, promise. All told today we’ll knock off about 25 miles with just under 3000 feet of climbing, but almost 6,000 descending thanks to a morning shuttle!
Day Three: This is a new ride for 2024, and we’re stoked on it. We’ll get up to 12,300′ today (on Star Pass) with some incredible high-alpine riding, and then come ripping down Trail 400 into Brush Creek… an incredible descent that goes on forever. Strand Hill will be an optional add-on today that’s totally worth it if you’ve got the legs and lungs!
Day Four: We always like to finish up our trips on a high-note, so today we’re putting together our “804” ride, which combines the world-famous 403 and 401 trails. We’ll start off with a shuttle up to the 403 trailhead, followed by a short mile-long climb before we hit the goods down 403. Once we hit the bottom, it’s a steady climb to Schofield Pass and beyond, to the top of 401. Once we reach the top of 401, you’ve got 5+ miles of sweet, flowy singletrack all the way down to the vehicles. Today’s ride is about 14 miles and 2,200 vertical.
Expected Weather: Monsoon season in the Colorado high-country can be a real thing, but hopefully by running our trip in mid-July, we’ll avoid a majority of the afternoon storms that we typically see. That said, there’s always a chance for thunderstorms when you’re above 10,000′, and we’ll make sure you’re prepared with regular pre-trip email updates. In terms of daytime temps, you can expect highs in the 60’s and 70’s, which is perfect for big rides!
Recommended Bike: Crested Butte is another one of those “it depends” recommendations, as the terrain here definitely warrants a bigger enduro-style bike if you’ve got the fitness. If you want a little more efficiency on the climbs, then by all means go with a trail bike with 130mm of rear travel. If you’re a solid climber and want to get rowdy on the descents, then we’d recommend a longer travel bike like the Stumpy EVO.
Final Word: We can’t say enough about our Crested Butte trip each year. It’s challenging, but the rides and downhills are so rewarding. There’s a chance you’ll push yourself harder and farther than before, but there’s also a good chance you’ll ride some of the best trails of your life. All in an environment that’s mind-blowing, and you’ll get to share it with a group of other riders having just as much fun as you are.
Technical Level: Advanced
Physical Level: Advanced
Summary: Yep that’s right: a week-long trip with Chasing Epic. But this isn’t just any week-long trip… this is six days of riding some of the best downhills in the US consecutively, in an enduro-focused trip that will push you to the limit and have you begging for more. Over the course of a week, we’re putting together three days in Salida (based on our Monarch Crest Enduro trip) and three days in Crested Butte that are not for the faint of heart. This trip is rated advanced level fitness and advanced level tech, and will likely end up being the hardest trip we operate.
This is a trip we’ve been wanting to create for a while, and we’re super psyched that it’s finally come to fruition in 2024. These are some of our favorite rides anywhere, and to combine them into a week-long trip is truly epic. These rides are tough, so make sure you come prepared for this one!
Ride Day 1: We’re going to kick things off in style: Fooses Creek sits atop the Monarch Crest and offers steeps, tech, and flow all within its 7 miles of downhill. After a lunch stop, we’ll head closer to town and shuttle Methodist Mountain in the afternoon to hit Guts and Lost, both steep forested trails that offer a bit of tech and flow as well.
Day 2: This is one of the hardest, longest days on a bike on any Chasing Epic trip… which makes it perfect for our 6-day Colorado Enduro. The ride starts with a 9-mile, 3200′ climb up to 12,600′ including a 45-min hike a bike; but once the suffering is done, you’ll enjoy a never-ending descent that has it all. Despite the difficulty, this is always a crowd pleaser.
Day 3: Today is a travel day (over to Crested Butte), but we’re still going to get a solid ride in this morning! Greens Creek has a 10-mile, 4000′ descent that’s best described as non-stop chunk. Seriously, it’s unrelenting. But it’s so much fun. After the ride this morning, we’ll stop at the top of Monarch Pass for lunch and a post-ride beer, and then head over to Crested Butte to prepare for the second half of the trip.
Day 4: Time to sample the goods in Crested Butte! This is one of our favorite high-country rides anywhere on earth, and it’s a great way to kick things off in CB. Today we’ll get three big descents (Flag Creek, Bear Creek and Doctor Park) that offer just about anything you can imagine. Time to rip it!a
Day 5: Our second big pedal day of the trip, all the big climbs today will most definitely be worth it. From the steep, fast track of 409 to the dark woods descent of Strawberry, to the potpourri of everything found on Strand Hill… this is a new ride for Chasing Epic, and we’re absolutely looking forward to it.
Day 6: The combination of 403 and 401 is tough to beat: Trail 403 offers steep tech over its four miles, dropping in from over 11,000′ down to the Gothic Valley floor. And while 401 isn’t necessarily a traditional “enduro” track, we can’t think of a better way to end an epic trip. Besides, your forearms will be screaming for mercy by now anyways. We’ll wrap up today’s ride around 1:00p and drive everyone back down to the Gunnison airport for their flights home!
Expected Weather: Summer in the Rocky Mountains is always unpredictable, and our Colorado Enduro trip is the epitome of that. “On average”, you can expect daytime temps at altitude to be around 60* with afternoon thunderstorms. In reality, however, you never know what’s going to happen…80 and dry, or 50 degrees with thunderstorms. We’ll do our best to prepare you for what to bring and expect, but know this: the weather above 10,000′ always makes it fun. We promise.
Recommended Bike: We recommend a true enduro bike for this trip: 140-160mm of travel for the long, hand-busting descents we’ll do each day. If you’re a little more skilled with the bike and like a quicker-handling feel, then you can definitely get by with a well-equipped trail bike. But honestly, we’d go with more travel to maximize the fun factor.
Summary: Our Colorado Enduro trip has it all, based around some of the biggest and best descents in the US- but you’ll definitely have to work for it. For 6 days, we’re going to focus on the incredible Colorado high-alpine descents. This trip is for our more advanced riders, since these trails are steep and technical, and the descents seem to last forever. Each day will build towards the next, until you can barely move by the time we head home after six full days of kick-ass rides. It’s hard to describe how tough and rewarding high-altitude riding is, especially at this level. But in all honesty, this trip delivers in spades and we can’t wait until next August!