Don’t put that bike away just yet!! Quaking aspens combined with pleasant Colorado temperatures and mountainous landscapes soaked in fiery reds, oranges, and yellows offer one more reason to keep your bike tuned up this fall. Aspen trees have a unique interconnected root system, causing each cluster to turn the same brilliant hue and in turn, results in the beautiful colors we all “ooh and ahh” at. Colorado’s magnificent Aspens shift to their more intense shades from mid-September to Mid-October. And what better way to experience the changing of fall colors than on two wheels?
Check out these top 10 all-color spectacular biking trails to see Colorado at its season’s best . . .
- Vail Mountain
Both a summer and autumn hot spot for mountain biking, Vail’s single-track trails weave, intersect, and zig-zag the mountain just like ski runs in the winter. Simply jump on the gondola with bike in hand and ride to the top of Vail Mountain to witness Mother Earth spreading her golden yellow leaves across the landscape. With more than 15 on-mountain trails, you can choose from beginner, intermediate, or expert terrain.
- Summit County
Summit County overall has recently been named the Number 1 mountain biking destination in Colorado by Singletracks.com. With 812 miles of trails within a 25-mile radius, here are some of our favorite Summit County mountain biking trails:
Appropriately named, Aspen Alley in Breckenridge is a favorite for both its swooping layout and its mesmerizing aspen forest. While most cyclists prefer to descend this trail, it can be ridden both uphill and downhill. Come fall, the tread takes on more traffic than most trails in town – and for good reason. True to its name, tall aspen trunks line this single track, making you feel like you are riding through a tunnel of red, gold, and orange. Just try to keep your eyes on the trail ahead because Aspen Alley is also known for its tight, bermed corners.
An out-and-back trail with a handful of spurs to explore, Ptarmigan Trail out of Silverthorne climbs into a wilderness valley just below the 12,498-foot Ptarmigan Mountain. Here, you can witness magnificent views of the Gore Range as you pass through colorful aspen and pine forests.
A popular ride among locals, Ute Pass is a winding 5.3-mile climb – gaining a lung taxing 2,000 feet in elevation – from Highway 9, North of Silverthorne. This trail also offers some of the bests autumn views of the Gore Range in Summit County. Head up early in the morning when the sun bathes on the Gore in spectacular light.
- Kebler Pass
Considered the crown jewel of fall biking trails, Kebler Pass has some of the largest aspen trees in the state.The radiant yellow and red leaves on Kebler Pass create a textured denseness unlike anywhere in the state. Kebler Pass is located just west of Crested Butte, yet another home to awesome fall biking trails. While in the area, some of these trails to check out include Kebler Wagon Trail #606, Dyke Trail #838, Kebler Pass itself on CO 12, and the 401 Trail in Crested Butte.
- Steamboat Springs
In an area as beautiful and large as Steamboat Springs, the best and most efficient way to see as much of the fall colors as possible is via two wheels. With one-of-a-kind biking terrain on the mountain, you can choose uphill and downhill trails that are intimately exposed to aspens, scrub oaks, pines, rocky terrain, and rustic wooden bridges. For an even bigger, better treat, Steamboat’s partnership with the Routt National Forest allows you to explore trails deep into pristine public land and gives you that “one-with-nature” experience that’s not always easy to come by. While in town, make sure to visit The Nature Den inside the lobby of the Gondola Plaza for information on these trail recommendations.
- Colorado Trail – Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge
From Denver to Durango, from Kokomo Pass to Tennessee Pass and beyond, the Colorado Trail is a 486-mile route full of options. Specifically, the section from Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge has become a must-see fall classic as it snakes its way from east to west through Summit County. With wide open landscapes full of stunning foliage and golden aspen groves, this 33-mile route of the Colorado Trail in autumn is considered one of the best. You’ll drop into Breckenridge with the gnawing urge to ride it again!
- Aspen / Snowmass
Of course! Aspen is well known for its . . . well . . . scenic stands of aspen trees. Two particular trails, Deaf Camp and Monastery, will take you out of town and into the old Snowmass area, where you will discover unmatched scenery and less crowded trails. Both these rides offer gentle uphill riding on refreshingly remote roads.
- Winter Park
With over 600 miles of easy-to-access trails, Winter Park is known as “Mountain Bike Capital USA.” According to Winter Park’s Chamber of Commerce, Rogers Pass is best noted for peak fall foliage peeping on two wheels. This 5-mile route is a classic mountain bike ride offering panoramic views that are well worth the ascent. Considered “Difficult” in terrain level, the out-and-back trail is located along the Continental Divide with amazing views of James Peak, Perry Peak, Heart Lake, Winter Park Resort, Mary Jane, and Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. Starting as an easy climb, Rogers Pass rapidly rises above tree line with an elevation gain of 1,076 feet, allowing riders an aerial view of the towns of Winter Park and Fraser. Plus, the view of fall colors in the Jim Creek Valley below will take your breath away.
- Sheep Creek Trail, Fairplay
Looking for a fun fall ride off the beaten path? Check out Sheep Creek Trail, along Weston Pass near Fariplay. This Aspen-lined single track offers several creek crossings and open meadows, making this mountain bike adventure well worth it for intermediate and advanced riders. You’ll cover approximately 17 miles and over 5,000 feet of elevation change.
If you head towards the western slope of Colorado, you will find a unique, laid back little community considered one of the best biking locales around, especially in the fall. Besides its “banana belt” climate, Fruita also offers high-desert mountain biking terrain with beginner to expert trails that wind atop amazing mesas, uncovering views of valleys speckled with luminous yellow trees. The golden views from rocky red vistas will make you feel as though you’re on top of the world and the adventurous dirt trails are sure to make you feel like a pro. The Kokopeli Loops are recommended as a must for the first-time Fruita rider.
- Monarch Pass
Another Colorado classic, the Monarch Crest Trail starts on the east side of Monarch Pass. You will need to grab a shuttle to the top, but don’t be fooled on the way back down, as this is not a purely downhill trail. While the route begins relatively flat and curves its way through pine trees and aspen groves, it does have some short climbs and descents, and alternates between doubletrack and single-track terrain. Enjoy spectacular views of valleys and mountains as you make your way around Greene’s Creek, Chipeta Peak, and Fooses Creek, which leads to yet another section of the above-mentioned Colorado Trail.
Mountain biking not quite your style? You don’t have to miss out on the autumn awesomeness! If you’re looking for uncrowded Colorado road biking, make your way over to the Maroon Creek Trail, located 10 miles southwest of Aspen on Maroon Creek Road. This ride is considered one of the area’s legendary, “must-do” rides, especially when the aspens change during fall. You can’t beat the impressive views of Colorado’s Maroon Bells! Plus, the access road isn’t open to cars, giving cyclists 11 miles of paved road to enjoy.
So, what are you waiting for? Hop on your bike and enjoy these last few months of riding before the snow flies and you swap out your pedals for skis and snowboards! Don’t have your own mountain bike on which to take in the amazing autumn scenery? Christy Sports offers a large fleet of mountain bike rentals in select mountain towns.