By Jillian Livingston, Examiner.com
Whether you are an animal on your mountain bike or more in love with the free form motion of riding on single tracks through the forest, Aspen and Snowmass have some amazing trails to get your heart rate pumping and your adrenaline rushing to greater heights, and to get you thinking like a kid again.
This list of my top four favorites is prepared for those who are ready to climb for their downhill rewards, as well as for those who prefer to have the luxury of hitching a ride up on a gondola in order to find your ya yas on the downhill.
The Elk Camp Gondola at Snowmass will take you and your bike to the midway point or you can ride the Elk Camp chairlift to the summit of Snowmass and access a trail system covering 50 miles of terrain including gentle roads to challenging single track – novice riders and experts alike are sure to get their fill here! Daily and weekly bike haul passes can be purchased in the Snowmass Gondola Ticket Office. Elk Camp Gondola runs daily and the Elk Camp Chairlift is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from June 22 – September 3.
What is most exciting is that Snowmass has partnered with Gravity Logic, the leading designer of safe, sustainable, progressive mountain bike trails for summer resort operations, and you can now ride on the Vapor and new Valhalla trails. Valhalla is 2.75 miles long and 1,400 feet of vertical with berms, jumps, bridges, tabletops, wall rides and more. The trails may look more challenging than other technical single track but rumor has it that they are less daunting for they are one directional and have less obstacles. There is only one way to find out!
Snowmass Rim Trail:
The trail starts out with an immediate climb that takes you up switchbacks and through wildflowers. As you climb you are rewarded with views up Snowmass Creek. At the top of the switchbacks there is a large granite yin yang platform where one can find inner peace while viewing Mount Daly and the Snowmass Creek Valley, or just lay in the middle to rest.
Continue on down the trail and it takes you toward Wildcat Ranch and back down to Sinclair Road which spills out onto Brushcreek Road.
Located on the sunny side of town is the Smuggler/Hunter Creep Route. To get to the fun you have to endure the often excruciatingly hot 1.6 miles up the Smuggler jeep road that takes you to a platform that has spectacular views of the town of Aspen and Ajax.
From the platform you can access Tootsie Roll, Lollipop and other fun single tracks that continuously switchback their way further up the mountain. When done with the confectionery, travel down into the beautiful Hunter Creek Valley and if you are not done yet when you get there, head back up to Four Corners. If you go down the other side you can end up in Woody Creek where the Margaritas are renown for making you sing…and dance!
If you make it up those other rides, now it is time for you to attack this trail. Ride up the monotonous service road that soon cuts into a single track that winds over to the Buttermilk Ski Area. When you reach the restaurant at the top of Buttermilk you will most definitely feel tired but I promise that it is worth it for there are spectacular views of Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Creek Valley and the single track down that leads you to the Government Trail is loads of fun.
Rio Grande Trail:
For those of you that just want a leisurely family ride, head down the Rio Grande Trail.
This friendly bike path runs 42 miles from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, with mileage markers found at half-mile intervals. Instead of a Margarita stop for lunch at the aforementioned Woody Creek Tavern.
*NOTE: Dogs are not allowed on the trail between the Catherine Bridge trailhead and Rock Bottom Ranch on Hooks Spur Road.
**For Mountain Biking clinics click here.
***An informative local mountain biking guidebook is “Mountain Biking Aspen to Glenwood,” by Garrick Pfaffmann.