The Roaring Fork Valley, home to Aspen and Snowmass, is now designated an IMBA Gold-Level Ride Center, one of only 7 in the world and the only Gold-Level Ride Center in Colorado. Beginners to extreme-seeking experts can find their slice of mountain biking paradise in the Aspen Snomwass area.
Here are some of our favorites in each category.
Aspen Snowmass Beginner Mountain Biking
Verde Trail at Snowmass Bike Park
Snowmass Bike Park’s beginner skills areas and green trail, Verde, are excellent and fun options for first-timer’s and beginners. We recommend renting all the protective gear and taking a lesson before venturing into lift-accessed downhill mountain biking. Verde is a gentle, flowy beginner trail that starts from the Elk Camp Gondola and descends to the Base Village.
If you’re looking for non-lift assisted beginner mountain biking, Lincoln Creek Road is wide, easy, albeit bumpy, jeep road perfect for newbies looking to practice their skills and build confidence–not to mention the views from Grizzly Reservoir (11 miles from Highway 82) are amazing.
Aspen Snowmass Intermediate – Advanced Intermediate Mountain Biking
Sky Mountain Park
This 2,500-acre area, which can be accessed from Aspen or Snowmass, features an incredible and scenic network of flowy, purpose-built trails. From Aspen, you’ll want to connect to Airline Trail or ride Highway 82 or the Rio Grande to the Brush Creek Park & Ride to connect to Cozyline. From Snowmass, you can park in the Tom Blake parking lot or Rodeo parking lot to access High Line. Deadline, in particular, is a favorite among intermediates who like the option to get a little air and speed. This is an excellent wildlife spotting area, with elk, deer, grouse, and various birds of prey often within sight. The views are also spectacular, as you can see Mount Sopris, Basalt Mountain, Mt. Daily, Snowmass, and Independence Pass all in one ride.
Rim Trail is a singletrack trail with great flow making for a great ride. This ride has a smooth surface and well-rounded switchbacks. South to North is the recommended direction of travel for this ride. Park at the Rodeo Lot and Hop on the village bus with your bike (there are racks on the bus) and get off at Sinclair Road. You’ll see the trailhead from the parking lot.
Aspen Snowmass Advanced – Expert Mountain Biking
Smuggler-Hunter Creek Loop
This popular and long-time intermediate-to-advanced ride commences with a somewhat challenging 30-40-minute climb (depending on fitness) up the 1.5-mile Smuggler Mountain Road. From the trail sign, you have options to continue climbing BTS (Behind the Sign) to Lollipop or Tootsie Roll or you can take the more direct route to the main Hunter Creek Trail. As you descend, there are options to add on and customize your loop with Idaho Shaft (or the new Idaho Shaft cutoff) to the Hunter Creek Valley trails. For an even longer loop, you can ascend up Red Mountain Road to access Upper Plunge and Hummingbird. No matter which route you choose, you’ll cap off your ride with a smooth single track along the babbling (and sometimes rushing) Hunter Creek, through aspen groves and next to minging-era cabins.
A challenge-seeker’s haven, Government Trail provides one of the area’s top single-track experiences. This 6.5-mile trail begins from the eastern flanks of Snowmass ski resort to the eastern, or Tiehack, side of the Buttermilk ski resort. The trail roller-coasters through aspen groves and thrilling single-track, ending just outside of Aspen. Most riders prefer the Snowmass to Buttermilk, but it’s possible to ride the trail from Buttermilk to Snowmass, which is called Reverse Government and features a bit more climbing.
For a quicker taste of Government, many local bikers will ride up a cat-track road from the Tiehack chairlift all the way to The Cliffhouse Lodge. From here, enjoy one of the best views of Pyramid Peak (a 14er) and flowy single track on Bandit Trail until it meets up with Government about 1/3 of the way down.
Snowmass Expert Mountain Biking Trails
Banzai, an expert only trail located on Snomwass ski resort, is “steep and rocky with tight, loose tuns and multiple drops,” according to MTB Project. Other pucker-worthy trails include Valhalla, Trail 9 and Gonzo, a double black jump trail.