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Discover Mountain Biking Nirvana in the Roaring Fork Valley

From smooth, gentle rides to technical routes that rack up mileage, find your perfect trail.

By Trina Ortega Photography by Daniel Bayer August 1, 2019 Published in the Midsummer/Fall 2019 issue of Aspen Sojourner

Image above: Riding the Hunter Creek Trail system in Aspen


Discovery–Village Bound Loop

Mileage: 4
Find it: Start from the Snowmass Mall. 

This fun loop begins on the uphill-only Discovery Trail, a family-friendly route with a fairly gentle 640-foot ascent. The tread is wide and smooth for entry-level riders, and the ride through the aspen groves will delight all. From the end of Discovery, access the parallel Village Bound Trail, which was recently rerouted to act as a companion descent. Craving more miles? Link Discovery to the Connector, West Government, or Cross Mountain trails. 


The Crown 

Mileage: Varies
Find it: Start from Prince Creek Road in Carbondale or Hooks Spur Lane in Basalt.

This area comprises miles of multiuse trails through sagebrush-filled foothills between Carbondale and Old Snowmass. In the past year, an uptick in mountain bike activity has resulted in additional routes, a formal parking lot on Pitkin County land south of Carbondale, and new campsites. From the new parking area on Prince Creek Road, pick your poison—low-commitment climbs to the infamous Ginormous/Monte Carlo descent, Up and Over via Porcupine and Buckhorn to El Jebel, or a grand climb to the top to gain the narrow Grandfather descent. From the Basalt/Emma side, Buckhorn to Glassier has quickly become a midvalley go-to ride.

French Press 

Mileage: 5.5
Find it: Snowmass Bike Park at the ski area

The ever-expanding bike park added to its trail system last year with this fun intermediate route that descends nearly 2,000 feet. Take the Elk Camp Gondola, followed by a chairlift to its terminus at 11,325 feet elevation. After taking in views of the Maroon Bells, hop on Vapor Trail for 1 mile, then look for French Press on the left. Sit back, ease off the brakes, and find your balance and flow for this fast-rolling, berm-filled trail that runs for 4.5 miles. 

Rim Trail Loop

Mileage: 10.6
Find it: Start from the Rodeo Lot in Snowmass Village.

The route cruises along the high, spiny ridge north of Brush Creek Road with a backdrop of craggy Mount Daly. From the parking lot, climb the paved Brush Creek Trail for almost 2.5 miles to the start of the Rim Trail South. Once on dirt, ascend the smooth single-track and make a quick detour left from the top to the yin-yang monument viewpoint. Backtrack to Rim, which is fast and flowy before a stout climb midway. From the second summit, keep descending on the Rim Trail North, or for a slightly longer ride, take the turnoff for the Seven Star Trail. 


Government Trail

Mileage: 6.6 point to point
Find it: Start from the Snowmass ski area.

This longtime classic between Snowmass and Buttermilk offers primo single-track. Drop a car at Buttermilk, then take a bus to the Snowmass Mall and ride partway up the ski area to tie into the Government Trail; or, for a longer ride, park at Buttermilk, spin up the paved Owl Creek path to Tom Blake Trail, then ride up the stout Powerline to intersect Government. The route’s a favorite of local Heath Johnson, who says: “The old-school single-track, with water crossings, rock gardens, and just plain-old miles of spindly trail through the woods is classic.”

Woody Creek/TinPot/Four Corners/Sunnyside 

Mileage: 25 
Find it: Start from Upper River Road in Woody Creek.

This long loop has it all: a warm-up on a pastoral country road; robust climbs; 15 miles of single-track with optional loops; views of 14,000-foot peaks in the Snowmass–Maroon Bells Wilderness; perfect dirt through giant aspen groves; a chance to cool your feet in the Roaring Fork River; and the Woody Creek Tavern for raising a glass après-ride. Begin by biking Woody Creek Road for 8.5 miles to Lenado. From there, the ride traces the Tinpot Trail to Four Corners, then descends the technical Sunnyside Trail to the Rio Grande Trail back to Woody Creek. 

Aspen-Snowmass Mega Loop

Mileage: 60
Find it: Start at the base of Smuggler Mountain in Aspen.

If you have the fitness and want a big day on 95 percent single-track, try what Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association’s Mike Pritchard describes as “single-track overload, technical classics, modern flow, and never-ending views.” In addition to its hefty mileage, the loop covers 10,000 feet of elevation gain and connects most of the area’s trail systems (Smuggler, Hunter Creek, Four Corners, Sky Mountain Park), plus the Rim and Government trails. Pack a map, and review MTB Project or Trailforks before departing on this all-day adventure.  

Revel Rascal 

This carbon, full-suspension ride from Carbondale-based Revel is one of the most sought-after mountain bikes of 2019. With 140 millimeters of rear travel, 29-inch wheels, and a Canfield Balance Formula suspension platform, it will temper high-alpine climbs and reach maximum fun on the descents. $4,999–$9,999

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