Happy Golden Trails

The Roaring Fork Valley’s IMBA Gold-Level Center Designation.

Happy Golden Trails: IMBA Gold-Level Center Designation

by Catherine Lutz
Even back in the days of hardtails and grunting up old mining roads, Roaring Fork Valley bikers knew they had a special place to ride. Recently, that uniqueness has been recognized.

In January 2020, the International Mountain Bicycling Association designated Aspen Snowmass and the Roaring Fork Valley an IMBA Gold-Level Ride Center, the organization’s highest honor — and one that’s rarely bestowed. It’s the first gold-level ride center in Colorado and just the fifth in the country (and as long as we’re counting, the seventh in the world — both non-US gold centers are in New Zealand).

What Does This Designation Mean?

In a nutshell, the Roaring Fork Valley offers a complete biking package—trails for every level and type of rider, along with the full suite of destination amenities. More specifically, criteria for the gold-level designation include having a wide variety of trail types, plenty of mileage, and the potential for lots of quality trail experiences. The area’s strong sustainability ethic and its diverse range of lodging, restaurants and bars, bike shops, and things to do besides biking were also factors.

So what does the greater Aspen Snowmass area offer riders that IMBA found so worthy? Over 300 miles of singletrack trails, from the easy swoops of the 2-mile Discovery Trail in Snowmass Village to the proving grounds of the Government Trail, a local classic that links Aspen and Snowmass. Hundreds of miles of doubletrack roads or wide dirt trails, which give a backcountry feel as well as the opportunity to look up safely from time to time to enjoy the surroundings. And, an extensive network of paved multipurpose paths like the 42-mile Rio Grande Trail, which runs the length of the valley along the former railroad corridor—link the towns and most of the trails, so you can combine any number of rides without ever getting out of the saddle.

Our Trails

Those with full bike quivers will relish their options to switch things up. Suit up in body armor and hoist your downhill bike onto the lifts to ride Snowmass Bike Park, offering 3,000 vertical feet of purpose-built downhill trails for every ability level, along with a practice skills park. A cross-country mountain bike works well for the vast majority of trails from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, not just the most notorious epic big climbs with long descents. For the young (and young at heart), the BMX tracks at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel — which include a Strider track for the very youngest riders — can provide hours of entertainment. Or, get upright on a cruiser or e-bike and eschew a workout in favor of a joyride on the valley’s vast paved trail network.

Reaching IMBA’s gold-level took many years and the collaboration of multiple local entities, but we’d be remiss not to mention the dedicated volunteers — most of them passionate riders themselves — that help build, maintain, and reclaim trails — going the extra mile for excellence.
Mountain biker riding through aspens

It's Great Being Golden

The criteria for a Gold-Level Ride Center includes having a wide variety of trail types, plenty of mileage, the potential for lots of quality trail experiences as well as a strong sustainability ethic and a diverse range of lodging, restaurants, bars, bike shops, and things to do.