Mountain biking has been exploding over the past few years here in Aspen, Colorado. This is due to the advances in bikes making riding easier and more comfortable and the dedicated work of a group of locals who have been building extensive trail networks in and around the Roaring Fork Valley.
Lighter frames means less effort when pedaling, larger wheels means the bikes roll over rocks and logs easier, better shocks make the trail less jarring, all this makes mountain biking more enjoyable and more attainable for more people, this is a big factor in how many riders we now see on the Aspen trails.
Also with so many new trails it is just more fun to get out when you can always be doing new rides. Up on Smuggler alone Aspen locals have established the Tootsie Roll trail the Lolipop Trail and the Balcony trail. Together this is another 20 some miles of pristine single-track we used to not have and some of it the most fund riding in the valley, with bridges and jumps built into the trails.
But just because it is new does not mean you should ignore classics like the Smuggler/Iowa Shaft/Hunter Creek Valley trail, maybe the most classic trail in Aspen. Leave town and climb up the Smuggler Mountain Road for a good “warm up”, fit riders can expect to do this in under a half hour. Then take a left at the overlook, another quarter mile of double track and then a left turn takes you into the single-track, follow this past a couple of air vents for mine shafts until it makes a steep descent into the Hunter Creek Valley. From hear you can drop back down into town or take another right and head up to Four Corners area.
The Four Corners area may feel like mountain biking heaven to devoted riders. From the intersection major trails go in 4 directions, with some of these having more branches once you get going. Coming up from Hunter Creek you can drop down into Lenado, or head right on the Jedi trail. The most popular option may be to head left, cross over the top of Red Mountain, traverse the entire front of the mountain above Aspen until you get to Sunnyside for what is a thrilling roller coaster ride down the Sunnyside trail. This is a popular fall ride due to the number of Aspen groves the ride goes through and the amazing views of Aspen, Highlands Pyramid and more.
Snowmass Mountain has become a mecca for resort lift supported riders for both downhillers and cross-country riders alike. The Valhalla trail is a full-blown thrill ride with too many jumps to count and a 20-foot high wooden banked wall. Not in the mood for lifts feel free to ride up the mountain as well, or take any of the several trails that traverse the mountain. The most popular may be the Tom Blake, which can be combined with the Rim Trail and Highline to do a complete circumnavigation of Snowmass Village. Another popular option is to take the Government trail that crosses Snowmass into the wilderness, then crosses Buttermilk Ski area and eventually pops you out at the Aspen Recreation Center where you can ride back to town.
These are just a few of the rides you have to choose from with options for every skill level. So get out there and give it a try, mountain biking is a great way to get an adrenaline fix and get in shape at the same time.