The Snowmass Bike Park has all the downhill trails you’re looking for, from a skills park for those who are brand new to the sport to expert trails of Valhalla for the experienced riders. Simply take the Elk Camp Gondola to the top—the helpful lift operators will make sure your bike gets to the top with you—and it’s a choose your own adventure playground from there.
Mountain Biking in the Roaring Fork Valley
Whether you’re new to the sport or already rocking a full-suspension setup, Aspen Snowmass is the perfect place to jump on a mountain bike. From cross-country trails to gnarly downhill courses or simple routes that lead to lunch, there are rides for every kind of biker. Rated one of the top 20 mountain bike towns in the United States, Aspen is continually progressing the offerings for those looking to explore on two wheels.
And, in case you needed any more reason to explore the stunning trails in the Aspen area, the Roaring Fork Valley is deemed a Gold Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) for its accessibility and quality of mountain bike trails for riders of all ability.
Here’s some trail beta to make planning your biking adventures fun and easy while visiting Aspen Snowmass.
Cross-Country Mountain Biking
Miles and miles of cross-country trails ascend, descend, and interconnect up and down the Roaring Fork Valley. The best way to get a feel for where trails start, end, and what degrees of difficulty you’ll be encountering is to use wayfinding and beta tools like the Mountain Bike Project app or aspentrailfinder.com. These are great resources to access maps with distances and elevations.
Here are some time-honored trails, often considered rites of passage to mountain biking in the Valley, from east to west:
Hunter Creek Valley
Starting with the slog up Smuggler Mountain—the popular trail also shared with hikers, runners, and horseback riders—will allow you to access a network of technical trails like BTS, Lollipop, Tootsie Roll, Hummingbird, Four Corners, Sunnyside, and more. The Hunter Creek Valley is beautiful, with a gentle flowing river and lots of options to keep going on your ride, or turn around when fatigue starts to overtake the fun.
The Hunter Creek Valley trail system is one of the most iconic in the town of Aspen and generally starts with a burner right off the bat. Smuggler Mountain begins in town and is a popular hiking trail all year round. It’s one and a half miles to the overlook with an 800-vertical foot gain—fairly steep and a relentless on a bike. But once you make it to that overlook, the sky is the limit. Roots and rocks and technical riding—not for the faint of heart or true mountain biking beginners—abound on BTS, Lollipop, Tootsie Roll, Iowa Shaft, and 10th Mountain. These are all interconnected trails that can be looped together and will wind and climb and eventually drop you in the Hunter Valley.
From here you can call it a day and take the Hunter Creek Trail back down into town, or keep climbing and exploring on Hummingbird, Four Corners, Hobbit, Sunnyside and other trails that will eventually put you back near town, depending on which route you take. There is also the Upper Hunter Creek Trailhead—parking is limited, but if you snag a spot you’ll have easy access to Hummingbird and Four Corners.
The fire road that takes bikers, hikers, and trucks alike up Buttermilk is a grind. But, as usual around here, it’s worth the reward. The descent consists of West Buttermilk trail, which crisscrosses ski runs until it links with the bottom portion of Government Trail.
This is a great ride for those looking to get in a workout and have some fun riding down something not overly technical.
Sky Mountain Park
Relatively new to the Valley, this network of trails is lots of fun—and on the easier side. The trails are located directly behind the airport and are a great link between Aspen and Snowmass. The Aspen side starts in the Buttermilk parking lot with a quick pedal to the trailhead and Airline Trail. At the top of Airline, you can choose among a few ways to continue, including Cozyline and Skyline, which leads to Deadline and Highline.
You can opt to park at the Rodeo Lot in Snowmass, or even at the Brush Creek Intercept Lot off of Highway 82, depending on how long you’d like to ride and which trails you hope to connect.
Weaving in and out of the Snowmass Bike Park downhill trails are some of the best cross-country trails in the Valley. Expresso, Silver Star, Rim Trail (both the South Rim and the North Rim), Tom Blake, and Government are just a few of the many options a rider has to traverse not only Snowmass but all of Aspen. Riding in the Snowmass area also makes splitting your time between cross-country trails and the Snowmass Bike Park easy—so you can do it all in one day.
Please be aware that e-Bikes are not allowed on cross-country or downhill trails on Snowmass.
Located mid-Valley at the confluence of the Roaring Fork River and the Frying Pan River, Basalt is a beautiful place for a mountain bike ride filled with vast views and dynamic terrain.
The Glassier-Buckhorn Loop is an intermediate trail that mixes a lot of singletrack with some time on the paved Rio Grande Trail. Totaling about 15-and-a-half miles in its entirety, this ride weaves and bends through sage meadows with red and basaltic rock, offering fun features along the way. Don’t feel like doing the full loop but still looking for ample flow? Access it from Hook Spur Lane and just ride Glassier Trail up, follow along Buckhorn Traverse, and turn around at any point to make it an out and back.
Further down Highway 82, the Valley widens and the town of Carbondale offers stellar riding in every direction. More advanced riders should check out Red Hill—a complex yet popular system of rocky single track trails that give you some of the best views of the town of Carbondale and Mt. Sopris. Choose to make it a quick ride on the Red Hill Loop, or connect more trails to double the distance.
On the opposite side of town, south down Highway 133 and up Prince Creek Road are the Prince Creek Trails—a winding system of 28 miles of cross-country trails that rest at the foot of Mt. Sopris. Though they can sometimes be dusty, these smooth, ebbing trails flow through oak brush and boast both technical and easy rides for any kind of cyclist—including Monte Carlo trail, which offers an optional ramp over an actual old Monte Carlo car.
Need a bike? Drop by Four Mountain Sports and roll out ready for any adventure. Enjoy options for all your biking needs—cruisers, e-bikes, road bikes, kid's bikes, trailers, and an assortment of mountain bikes including trail, enduro and downhill bikes—and accessories and apparel. Plus, the experts at FMS are also some of the Valley’s best riders, so be sure to ask questions about trails and load up on beta as well as bike gear.