Incorporating the newly completed (2018) Baxter Gulch singletrack, this trail connection enables an outstanding loop route, departing directly from, and returning to, downtown Crested Butte. The redesign to this annual fundraising event benefiting the Crested Butte Junior Nordic ski team, amplifies the Grin & Bear It to new legitimacy as a 25-kilometer trail event!
Accessible parking and public restrooms are present at the Crested Butte Nordic Center.
Just like the original Grin & Bear It course, the new G&B loop race route starts and ends at the Crested Butte Nordic Center: 620 2nd Street in downtown Crested Butte.
While this loop may be run in either direction, the race route proceeds south out of town, paralleling Highway 135 for 0.25 miles, before arriving to the Baxter Gulch trailhead. Here, runners are routed onto singletrack, starting a series of sharp switchbacks climbing 600 feet through shaded aspens. This climb eventually opens up, transitioning to a climbing traverse where imposing vistas of Mt. Crested Butte
are relished as the peak starkly rises across the valley. This initial climb tops out at 9,431 feet before providing competitors a momentary 200-foot downhill respite.
Upon crossing a fine bridge across Baxter Creek, installed by the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association, steady switchback climbing again commences for the next mile. After making a second crossing of Baxter Creek, elevation gain levels off a bit, climbing more moderately through open meadows and surprise views of Mt. Whetstone. Moderate climbing continues until about mile 5.25, where 450 feet is more steeply gained in less than 1 mile. This push delivers runners to a high saddle at 10,700 feet and a sneak-peek view into the adjacent Ohio Creek valley drainage.
Here, the course embarks on a brief 0.5-mile descent, intersecting the Carbon Trail #436, where runners bang a right hand turn and begin their final 545 feet of climbing to the course high point at 10,983 feet. Here, runners are treated to panoramic views of the high peaks spanning the Elk Mountain Range, in addition to the expansive valley bottoms of the upper Gunnison laid out below.
The trail becomes consistently rougher throughout the next 2.5-mile portion of course. This section of trail is either traversing or descending, but is utterly rock-strewn throughout, all the way until meeting the Green Lake Trail
intersection. At this juncture, racers are routed up a 0.3-mile spur to the Green Lake checkpoint and an opportunity for a refreshing alpine lake dunk.
After tapping the giant ponderosa pine towering beside the lake, racers make an about face, setting themselves on a 4.5-mile melee, descending 2,100 feet back into the Town of Crested Butte. The downhill running is shaded and very enjoyable, as technical trail is sparely punctuated. At mile 12.5, Green Lake Trail
intersects a private subdivision road. Runners make a right-hand turn, running the road for 0.4 miles, making a left hand turn to reconnect with the Green Lake Trail
singletrack. From this junction, 2 miles and 623 feet of elevation loss remain to the finish line back at the Crested Butte Nordic Center.