The Original Growler

The 2017 ORIGINAL GROWLER endurance mountain bike races

The 2017 Half Growler is sold out. There is a waitlist at The only sure way to experience the Half Growler in 2017 is to register for Sunday’s Half, which uses the exact same course. 

Registration opens December 1, 2016 at 8pm mtn time HERE.




2017 Course Map

*NEW FOR 2017:

  • NEW (MORE!) TRAILS AND LESS ROADS: We have shuffled the course deck and added the new Graceland trails and a new section of Skyline (both of which your entry fees helped to build), losing the Powerlines Road and the pavement of Gold Basin Road. Apologies, but this change up just added more techy singletrack! Check out the new map HERE.
  • MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL CATEGORIES: New Half Growler and (Sunday’s Half Growler, too) categories for young riders based on grade in school (as of fall 2017): 8th graders and younger; high school freshman and sophomores; high school juniors and seniors. We also have Collegiate and the all new CLYDESDALE category for both the Full and Half Growler.
  • GROWLER CUP KIDS RACES at the base area of Hartman Rocks. These will take place both days and will be for the kids who aren’t quite up for the Growler course yet. Littler kids will race/ride on a shorter, flatter course while bigger kids will get more vertical (and descending!) and a longer course. These will be spectator, family friendly multi-lap courses. We also hope to have these marked courses available all or most of the day for your little rippers to turn laps on. 


For ten years, the Original Growler has not wavered from our guiding principal of asking you to trade your hard earned dollars for three things:

1) An awesome day on the bike. The Growler offers a challenging, singletrack heavy mountain biking experience on some of the finest trails on the planet.

2) A killer party. Food, drink and camaraderie, post race, in downtown Gunnison (for those that still have some party left in them!)

3) Top shelf trails, both existing and developing. Regardless of where you live, you become a stakeholder in Gunnison area trails as every penny of your entry fee goes directly to the 501c3 not for profit, Gunnison Trails, and Gunnison Trails’ mission is focused solely on improving and expanding area trails.

The Original Growler showcases most of the trails at the Hartman Rocks recreation area on BLM public lands. “Hartman’s,” as we call it, was chosen as one of the top 20 mountain biking destinations on BLM lands and offers a one-of-kind trail riding experience. If you have ridden Hartman’s, you know all about the magic of these high desert trails.

If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself as an experienced mountain biker to test your skills and fitness on the trails at Hartman Rocks. You’ll be forced to alternate relentlessly between fast and flow in seas of sagebrush and tricky and technical through weathered and twisted juniper on islands of granite and in the many micro canyons that pock this primal landscape. While there are no big climbs and the total vertical gain isn’t remarkable, the seesaw nature of the Growler course is a supreme test of all around mountain biking. Go ahead, commit. But be prepared to challenge your mind, your body and your skills.

  • Saturday May 27, 2017, The Half-Growler, around 32-miles on the dirt* (limited to 350 riders)
  • May 28, 2017, The Full-Growler, around 64-miles on the dirt*
  • Sunday May 28, 2017, Sunday’s Half Growler, around 32-miles on the dirt* (Sunday starters limited to 350 riders) 


2016 Original Growler Photos – Free downloads of web optimized images

ARCHIVED Original Growler Results

ARCHIVED Original Growler Photos

*All races start and finish in downtown Gunnison so add around 5 miles of dead flat pavement to these totals.

  • Brought to you by Gunnison Trails and presented by Ergon and powered by SRAM. The Original Growler is owned and operated by Gunnison Trails and is the primary fundraiser for this Colorado 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Gunnison Trails is dedicated to maintaining and expanding the single track experience in the Gunnison area including working toward building the Gunnison to Crested Butte trail. 100% of the proceeds from the Original Growler benefit Gunnison Trails.

Cancellations, Refunds and Transfers: See WHAT IF IT RAINS? below for the skinny on event cancelation and WHAT ABOUT REFUNDS AND TRANSFERS? for the scoop on your options if you register and cannot attend. In a nutshell, we offer full refunds, full refunds less $25 and transfers within certain date ranges.

Shop Growler Gear Here


Registration opens December 1, 2016 at 8pm MDT

Register HERE

Each day of racing is capped at 350 riders.




PACKET PICKUP: 3-9pm Friday and Saturday May 26th and 27th will be at Western State Colorado University in the Mountaineer Field House: 700 E. Gothic Ave, Gunnison, CO 81230. All competitors will receive an event hat and coffee mug. DIRECTIONS: From Highway 50/Tomichi Ave., turn north onto Colorado St., go 4 blocks then turn east on Gothic Ave. Go around the roundabout and park, the Mountaineer Field House is the huge building to the northeast and enter through the southwest doors nearest the parking lot. Google 700 E. Gothic Ave. in maps or check out the link above.

THE GREAT GROWLER FOOD DRIVE! The Original Growler is a BYOB Race: Bring Your Own Bag. We try to eliminate waste and clutter by not providing you with any spiffy disposable or reusable bags that nobody needs. Please bring your own, preferably filled with non-perishable food items for the Original Growler Food Drive. Last year we killed it with this and our local food bank is forever grateful for your generosity.


Saturday May 27, 2017 The Half-Growler, an epic single-lap race. *THE HALF-GROWLER BEGINS WITH A MASS START AT 9AM* Field limit is 350 starters. Entry fee is $109 and includes a ton of singletrack, well-stocked aid stations, a t-shirt or something else, post-race party in downtown Gunnison including a meal and beverages and finisher’s awards. HINT: Lots of locals prefer the Half-Growler because they know just how hard the Full-Growler is. Our most popular distance, the Half-Growler usually sells out quickly. Don’t procrastinate on this one. But if you did and it’s full, take a look at Sunday’s Half below.

Sunday May 28, 2017 The Full-Growler, two laps and Sunday’s Half, one lap. *BOTH EVENTS BEGIN TOGETHER WITH A MASS START AT 7AM* Combined total field limit for Sunday is 350 starters. Entry fee is $109 for the Full and Sunday’s Half and includes double a ton of singletrack, well-stocked aid stations, a t-shirt or something else, post-race party including a meal and beverages and a finisher’s award.

The Full-Growler: this is the race that started it all – the big daddy, the main event, the grand poobah. Two laps featuring most of the trails at legendary Hartman Rocks. Perhaps up to a $5,000 prize list for pros and nothing short of one of the most challenging races on the planet for experienced, trail riding mountain bikers. 

Sunday’s Half: A one lap race within the Full-Growler on Sunday May 28th. We will track and post results, including time, for Sunday’s Half, but categories will only be Men and Women Open. Sunday’s Half might be right for you if you want to race the same day as your friend or significant other who is tackling the Full-Growler but you know that you’re more of a Half-Growler kind of rider; or, the Half Growler sold out before you got around to registering and you still want to experience the amazing trail riding of The Original Growler. Sunday’s Half finishers still get Half-Growler finisher’s award, party, meal, etc. There will be no individual or age group achievement awards or rankings for Sunday’s Half.


The Original Meowler and Sage Burner trail running races have their own dates the weekend before the Growler. For 2017, we have added the all new Mini Meowler, too, and it’s just what it sounds like: a short version of the hostile and over the top Original Meowler. The Sage Burner is May 20, 2017 and the Meowlers are May 21, 2017.


The Original Growler is for experienced mountain bikers only and takes place in rugged, isolated backcountry terrain. While your safety is our highest priority and we have a robust EMS plan and experienced and trained personnel, responding to and evacuating an injured rider could be time consuming and difficult. Riders must possess the skills and judgment necessary to assess difficult and challenging trails and roads and negotiate them in a safe manner. NO BEGINNERS, PLEASE! For comparison, the general character and difficulty of the trails and roads in the Original Growler is similar to those of the BLM Mack Ridge Trail System near Fruita, CO: Mary’s Loop, Lion’s Loop, Horsethief Loop, Steve’s Loop, etc. The trails have also been described as Buffalo Creek on steroids.

Each day of Original Growler racing is capped at 350 riders. We could easily start 500 or more but there’s a ton of singletrack out there, much of it either fast or technical. Too many riders on course at once is not conducive to quality racing and riding. Even so, the Growler will bottleneck early in the race. Please be patient, respectful and smart if you find yourself at a standstill. Riding off of the trail to pass is not cool. Also, if a gap opens in front of you and you look back and notice that you are the engine of a long train of riders, please step off of your bike, move over and let these faster riders by. The same goes later in the race if you are being lapped or if another rider comes up on you on singletrack. Please yield the trail. This helps keep our precious singletrack trails singletrack! Thanks!

Both days of racing will start in downtown Gunnison by shotgun blasts. As per tradition, we will be flip-flopping the direction of travel on the course. Every trail is a completely different experience when ridden the other way! In year 2017 we’re going clockwise and we’ve added even more singletrack to the course.


The HALF-GROWLER – While the winning time will be around 3 hours, we have a handful of riders out there for over 6 hours. Average times are 4-5 hours.Even though it’s called a race, this is an exceptional course to just ride for fun and challenge. We do have cutoff times (our volunteers do not bring sleeping bags!), but they are not overly tough to beat.

The FULL-GROWLER – Winning men’s times for the Full Growler flirt with breaking 5 hours and fast ladies can break 6 hours. Heard on the street: “But the Full-Growler is only 64 miles. I’ve done a bunch of hundies, I’ve done Leadville, how hard can it be?” Give it a try and find out, just bring your A-game. Once again, it’s called a race but plenty of riders take their time (maybe even take some pictures), smell the sage and enjoy the challenging and ever-changing trails at Hartman Rocks.





The start is neutral behind law enforcement until you hit the dirt at Hartman Rocks. Neutral means you cannot pass the lead-out law enforcement vehicle. This law enforcement vehicle may drive slow or fast. HINT: the law enforcement vehicle usually goes pretty fast on Gold Basin road toward the dirt. The finish on the pavement is untimed but mandatory (see below for further details). Racing begins for real when you hit the dirt at the entrance to the Hartman Rocks base area. The course is about a 32-mile loop on your BLM public lands that brings riders back to the Hartman Rocks base area, where the timed finish/lap line is located.

The timed finish line is on the dirt at the Hartman Rocks base area. WE ARE NOT RACING BACK TO DOWNTOWN GUNNISON.

However, riding back to downtown Gunnison on the pavement is mandatory but untimed (continue reading for further details).

For 2017, the timed portion of all races will be completed at the Hartman Rocks base area. However, by rule, you must pedal your bike back to downtown Gunnison and check in at the symbolic finish line there. This section is untimed so you can take your time, even stopping by your campsite or hotel room first to shower, shave or to paint your toenails. Do make it back downtown, however, and check in with race staff. Growler finishers will get a finishers award. You’ll also get your meal voucher for the Great Growler Food Court, New Belgium after party and awards presentation, all taking place where you started in downtown Gunnison.


The Half, Sunday’s Half and the Full-Growlers, all start and finish in downtown Gunnison at IOOF Park (AKA, race HQ) on the NE corner of Main and Virginia. That makes for about 5 miles of dead flat pavement, 2.5 at the beginning and 2.5 at the end. Total distances are about 40 miles for the Half-Growler and 69 miles for the Full-Growler. The start on the pavement is neutral behind law enforcement and may be slow or fast. SEE ABOVE FOR A DESCRIPTION OF HOW THE GROWLER WILL FINISH.


Please, no parking on Main St. or in the first block on either side of Main St. These are two-hour parking spots and you will be ticketed and possibly towed. There’s plenty of street parking adjacent to the finish that’s just one block or more off of Main St. A great parking lot is two blocks west of the start across the street from the post office and there’s a ton of parking on the campus of Western State Colorado University.


The well-marked, clockwise course of around 30 miles contains loads of classic and challenging Gunnison singletrack – trails like Skull Pass, Rattlesnake, the Ridge, Joshes and new for 2017, 4-miles of new trail in the Graceland complex. You won’t be bored! The lap descends around 4,000 vertical feet.  The Half-Growler and lap 1 of Sunday’s races use a slightly different starting configuration to spread the field out. Please study the map for details.

PLEASE NOTE: Parts of the Original Growler course are closed until May 15th to protect the threatened Gunnison Sage-grouse. If you preride the course prior to May 15th, please honor and respect this seasonal closure for wildlife. Many thanks!

The Original Growler course contains difficult, technically demanding, and of course, potentially dangerous, singletrack trails, double-tracks and roads. Most road and trail hazards are not marked. Riders must possess the judgment and experience necessary to evaluate the roads and trails of the Original Growler and determine the safest manner in which to negotiate them.

BLM Public Lands
All roads and trails used in the Original Growler are also open to the public and participants don’t have special preference out on the trail. Participants need to be prepared to encounter, yield to and be courteous to humans on foot, on horseback, on mountain bikes (not racing), on motorcycles, on ATV’s, in full-size vehicles, hovercraft, etc. Cattle may also be encountered while racing in the Original Growler. This is standard policy for events taking place on BLM public lands.

The Original Growler course is an isolated, backcountry route that includes numerous sections located in steep and rugged terrain where participants may be hours from medical attention and/or evacuation in the event of a serious mishap. Western State Colorado University Mountain Rescue Team provides emergency services for the Original Growler. The long-distance nature of the Growler races emphasizes the importance of adequate preparation, physical fitness and sound decision-making on the part of each participant


RAIN: You will most likely get wet. The Original Growler is an all weather race. It poured rain before and during the race in 2009; in 2014, it rained most of the night prior to the Full Growler and in 2015 the story was the same for the Half. The first part of the course, especially the roads, on those days certainly had their moments. However, all thing considered, Hartman Rocks rides pretty well when it’s wet. Most of the soils are non-clay, decomposed granite. The race organization and/or the BLM may cancel the race do to weather but this hasn’t happened yet! All riders need to be dressed appropriately and be prepared to ride in the conditions on race day. In the event of a weather cancellation, essentially an act of god, Gunnison Trails reserves the right to make any decision possible.

LIGHTNING: Lightning is wholly unpredictable and a very common in Colorado. Each of you make your own decisions about how best to stay safe in the event of a sudden electrical storm. If lightning starts striking nearby, do whatever you need to do to stay safe. These storms usually pass quickly.

Many trails in the Growler course are on hilltops or on large flat planes. Please be aware of the weather around you and where you are heading and make good decisions.

Canceling the race when riders are spread all over the course is not practical, not to mention impossible to communicate. We reserve the right to suspend or alter final results if thunderstorms materially alter rider’s ability to continue on without seeking cover. But, all parts of the race will stay intact and resume operations once each storm cell has passed. Ride aware at all times, especially after storms, as volunteers sometimes bail from their positions.

Follow all rules of the road and be safe and prudent if you approach an intersection, blind spot or other potentially dangerous situation while riding, that is unmarshaled.

Since these storms usually come and go, the course, finish line, aid stations, etc., will stay in place and active, except when they are under siege from an active electrical storm cell.

Be safe, make good decisions. Don’t let you competitiveness overrule your safety. After all  this is the Growler, not the tour de France.


There will be well-stocked aid-stations generally at miles 15 and 17 (Skull Pass), 30 (Hartman Rocks base area), 43 and 45 (Skull Pass). We will have hydration drink mix and Honey Stinger product available, as well as water and other food, too. Depending on location ice cold coke, and pickles or pickle juice will be available. As in years past, bacon and who knows what else, might be offered. No filled bottles will be handed up so you’ll need to fill your bottles and bladders or make other arrangements.

Two additional intermediate locations on the course will have hydration drink mix and water, just enough to keep you going.

Crewing is discouraged on the race course. There is already a ton of action going on out there and the few cars and less traffic, the better. 


There will be basic technical support at the Hartman Rocks base area and basic support at Skull Pass. This will include lube, a few tubes and tires, some tools and floor pump. There most likely will not be a full-service bike shop on course. The base area will have more resources. Please arrive with your bike 100% dialed and then ride it so that it lasts, e.g. don’t shift like a bison!


Full Growler riders only will be able to leave a small cooler or duffel bag at a designated spot near the starting line in downtown Gunnison. We will transport your bag to the lap line (Hartman Rocks base area.) These can be filled with whatever you think you might want to have at the half-way point of the race: food, drink, clothing, tubes, tools, etc.) Once you have gone through it and are back on course, we’ll transport it back to town for you. Important: Full-Growler riders: the lap line at the Hartman Rocks base area is always a confusing place. Check it out beforehand if possible. As you finish your first lap, be as aware as you can and pay attention to signage and/or course marshals trying to direct you to: the drop-bag location; the crew-feeding area; the neutral aid-station; or through the timing line to head out for your second lap



Cutoff #1: If you have not arrived at the Skull Pass aid station by noon (5mph average or less), you will be asked to begin expediting your ride by not dropping into Skull Pass, and/or cutting off other sections of the course. This will mean a DNF (did not finish) in the results.

Cutoff #2: If you do not reach the start of Josie’s Trail by 1pm, you will be asked to expedite your ride by taking roads directly back to the Hartman Rocks Base Area. This will mean a DNF (did not finish) in the results.

Cutoff #3: If you do not reach the end of Graceland Trail by 2pm, you will be asked to expedite your ride by taking roads directly back to the Hartman Rocks Base Area. This will mean a DNF (did not finish) in the results.


Cutoff #1: NOON is the strictly enforced cutoff time to head out on the second lap for Full Growler riders.

Cutoff #2 (lap 2): If you do not reach the start of Josie’s Trail by 3pm, you will be asked to expedite your ride by taking roads directly back to the Hartman Rocks Base Area. This will mean a DNF (did not finish) in the results.


Cutoff #1: If you do not reach the start of Josie’s Trail by 3pm, you will be asked to expedite your ride by taking roads directly back to the Hartman Rocks Base Area. This will mean a DNF (did not finish) in the results.




Once you’re done and back in downtown at the starting line, you’ll be smack-dab in the middle of the Growler after party. We have food and beverages (please drink responsibly) for you and eventually, we’ll do awards. We suggest that you put your bike away securely (you might want to bring a lock for peace of mind or get it back to where you are staying or on or in your car), clean up as you like and kick back and enjoy the post-race glow and feeling of abused legs.

  • Half-Growler Party on Saturday begins around 1pm with Awards around 3pm.
  • Full-Growler and Sunday’s Half-Growler party on Sunday begins around 1pm with Awards around 5pm.

Refunds and Transfers: The Original Growler’s only reason for existence – along with offering you an epic challenge and an amazing experience – is to raise money for Gunnison area trails, trail advocacy and other local non-profits.

2017 Refund Policy: Full refunds are available until March 31, 2017 at midnight. Refunds will only be granted if we receive an email at prior to this date and time. In this email you can also request a partial refund, contributing an amount of your choice to the Gunnison Trails cause. Thanks in advance for that!

From April 1, 2017 to May 17, 2017 at midnight, a full refund, less a $25 contribution to Gunnison Trails, is available. Again, you must email us at within this time period and you can also contribute more than $25 if you choose, just let us know in your email.

Apologies, but there will be no refunds after May 17, 2017. However, check out our transfer policy below as we will allow transfers until May 24, 2017.

Transfers: Transfers will be allowed until May 24, 2017 at midnight. We have set up our registration platform at to allow users to transfer entries to others and to edit their registration. This will allow you to log on and transfer your entry to someone you have lined up, change categories, team name, rider’s name and contact details, etc.


2017 CATEGORIES: New for 2017: Half Growler only: Under 16; 16-18 and Clydesdale. Full
Growler only: Clydesdale and all riders must be 18 years of age by race day to ride the Full Growler.

(All categories are subject to change):

WOMEN HALF GROWLER – Pro; Under 16; 16-18; Collegiate; 19-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50+; Open Singlespeed

WOMEN FULL GROWLER – Pro; Collegiate; 18-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50+; Open Singlespeed; (Sorry, new for 2017, all riders must be 18 to tackle the Full Growler.)

MEN HALF GROWLER – Pro; Under 16; 16-18; Collegiate; 19-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; 60+; Open Singlespeed; Clydesdale (over 200 lbs.)

MEN FULL GROWLER – Pro; Collegiate; 18-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; 60+; Open Singlespeed; Clydesdale (over 200 lbs.) (Sorry, new for 2017, all riders must be 18 to tackle the Full Growler.)

SUNDAY’S HALF – Men; Women

PRIZE MONEY: Apologies but we have lost our pro prize money for 2017. If this is a deal changer for you, please let us know and we will give you a full refund. We are so grateful to the Gunnison Crested Butte Tourism Association that put up these funds in the past. However, there were some administrative changes and these funds can no longer be used for prize money.

Gunnison Trails holds some starting positions for sponsors, partners and race organization discretion.


  • May 20, 2017 – The Sage Burner Trail Running Race usually takes place the weekend prior to the Growler. Check out their website for details.
  • May 21, 2017 – The Original Meowler mountain duathlon: mountain bike, trail run, mountain bike. NEW for 2017: We are working to create the Mini Meowler, a slightly tamer version of the Original Meowler.

Gold Partners

Silver Partners


Bronze Partners


Steel Partners