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A First Timer's Guide to the Snowmass Bike Park

Summer at Aspen Snowmass isn’t complete without a mountain bike ride. Whether you’re a beginner or a full-time ripper, here’s how you can ensure a fulfilling experience at Snowmass Bike Park.
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Trail difficulty is designated just as it is in the winter: green is easiest, blue is intermediate, and black is most difficult. 

By Catherine Lutz, updated June 2023
With its ever-expanding network of trails for all abilities, Snowmass Bike Park has become a top destination for the two-wheeled gravity crowd. Add jaw-dropping mountain views and the relative ease of loading a bike on a gondola lift (instead of having to ride uphill first), and it’s tempting for seasoned riders and first-timers alike to find a bike, buy a lift ticket, and start exploring.

What Is Snowmass Bike Park?

Not every ski area features a bike park in the summer, although more resorts are adding mountain biking and other warm-weather amenities as summer visitation increases. For those unfamiliar with the term, a bike park is a network of gravity trails (downhill, mountain-bike-specific trails), often lift-accessed, with varying amounts of manmade features such as rollers, jumps, banked turns, and bridges. Snowmass Bike Park currently offers 16 trails, all accessed via the Elk Camp Gondola and Elk Camp Chairlift.

At Snowmass Bike Park, as at other bike parks, trail difficulty is designated just as it is in the winter: green is easiest, blue is intermediate, and black is most difficult. And, you can always connect to the larger network of cross-country bike trails totaling to more than 50 miles around Snowmass that the International Bike Association (IMBA) has given a Gold-Level status.

Bike Lessons And Clinic

The best introduction to Snowmass Bike Park, regardless of your skill level, is to take a clinic with a certified Bike Coach. For just $99 each, there’s a Intro to Downhill Bike Clinic suited for beginners or a Downhill Skills Clinic for more experienced guests (bike, gear, and lift tickets not included). If you want a custom experience, three-hour private bike lessons for up to five people are available for a half-day (morning or afternoon) start at $450, or make it a full-day lesson at $655. Private bike lessons include a complimentary bike haul lift ticket, but do not come with free or discounted bike rentals.
For beginner lessons, seasoned Coaches will lead you through the “ABCs” of downhill mountain biking (active stance, braking, and cornering) on a level, paved section of the Base Village Plaza. Once you get familiar with your bike (a must if it’s a rental) and the basic downhill techniques, it’s time to load your bike onto the Gondola and test out those new moves in the skills park, which offers several short downhill sections with practice features and two loops with banked turns.

If you’re a seasoned biker, your clinic will start mid-mountain at Elk Camp, where you can practice new skills and explore the trails. Most of your day will be spent riding, practicing on features and getting active feedback.

“We want you to come with us, because we’ll ensure you’ll have a better time and we want you to come back,” says Kevin Jordan, Snowmass Bike Park and bike school manager. “But be careful. Like skiing or snowboarding, downhill mountain biking is a gravity-fed sport—and it’s addictive.”

Ride On!

Beginners will be happy in the Meadows Skills Park, a new, entry-level freeride system featuring easy-to-handle rollers, jumps and berms at short distances. It's a low-stress, low-commitment way for new riders to acquaint themselves with the equipment and techniques unique to park riding. Located at mid-mountain at Elk Camp (near Lost Forest), the Meadows is an ideal learning spot just adjacent to the long, winding, green-rated Verde trail, which leads to Base Village. (If you’re not quite ready for the long ride down, you can always hop back on the gondola).

Intermediate riders can find unbelievable flow on French Press’ super-long, five-mile descent, complete with vegetation and climate changing along the way. Another favorite is Valkyrie, which can be accessed from the green-rated Verde trail. This newer, blue-rated freeride trail is a mid-mountain gem acting as a friendly stepping stone for riders looking to gain more skills on freeride descents.

Expert riders love Valhalla, Battle Axe and of course, Animal Crackers — the most challenging trail in the park with unrelenting technical features including off-camber roots, plunging corners with catch-berms, and rock gardens.
For riders who prefer to earn their turns, there are miles of cross-country trails that connect with the bike park trails at various points, creating amazing combination-riding. Climb through Aspen Groves up the Discovery trail and connect with the Village Bound trail, or choose to ride any of Snowmass’ greater biking eco-system beyond the lift-accessed terrain.

With the whole family? No worries, biking is a family sport. Like skiing or snowboarding, the whole family can ride together, or take different trails based on skill level—including Snowmass’s extensive network of cross-country trails—and then meet up easily mid-mountain or at the base.

Check out our detailed trail descriptions to learn more about each route in the park.

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