Type II fun: if you know it, you love to hate it. If you’re new to it, get ready for both an education and a guide to Aspen’s very best in enjoyable suffering.

Here’s what you need to know: type II fun is the blurry (or not so blurry) line where a normally enjoyable activity goes to extremes. Type II fun is usually: a) self inflicted b) completed outdoors c) accompanied by a long nap. It’s the type of fun that’s not so great while it’s happening, but satisfying in retrospect.

When you’re deep in the pain cave feeling like you’re going to pass out from hypoxia, just remember that tomorrow this will be a really great memory and you’ll be eating a 2,000 calorie hamburger sooner than you think. Aspen, as it turns out, is the perfect place to get your type-II-fun fix. Here are some local favorites:
Type II Fun
Type II Fun

Hike (or Run) Aspen Mountain

Come summer or winter, a journey up Aspen Mountain by foot is a breeding ground for some type II fun. Whether fast hiking or trail running, start at the base of the gondola and head straight up (Spar Gulch to the base of the Ajax Express lift) for an immediate cardio burn. It may feel good on downhill skis, but this will be your enemy heading in the opposite direction. Just remember— if you make it to the top, you can always take the gondola down.
Four Pass Loop
Four Pass Loop

Trail Running the Four Pass Loop

Backpackers usually do the Four Pass Loop in several days, but type-II-fun havers prefer the quicker route — a trail run lasting between 8-10 hours. If you go counter-clockwise you can tackle the harder passes first, leaving the slightly-less-hard passes for when you’re really running on empty. After going over Buckskin Pass at 12,500 ft, Trail Rider Pass at 12,420 ft, Frigid Air Pass at 12,415 ft, and West Maroon Pass at 12,500 ft, you’ll really be wondering what compelled you to take on this endeavor, but you’ll also have some great photos.
Locals Loop Road Bike
Locals Loop Road Bike

The “Locals Loop”

Who knows what the official name for this one is, but let’s just say this borders on “type III” fun. For the hard-core road bikers out there, this ride is for you.
From Aspen, bike up Independence Pass and back to town, then head out of town and link that ride to Castle Creek Road and Ashcroft Ghost Town. Bike down (and take some deep breaths) before heading over to an up and back of the Maroon Bells. Just typing that was exhausting, but not as exhausting as your trip, which will be well over 7,000 feet of climbing. Want the abbreviated version? Linking a road ride to Ashcroft Ghost Town with a ride to the Maroon Bells, is plenty for one afternoon (and you might even be able to walk the next day).

Type II Fun
Type II Fun

Any “Audi Power Of Four” Race

Aspen is one-of-a-kind with its four ski mountains accessible within twenty minutes of downtown. This also means that the four mountains are close enough that a network of trails and roads to connect them to one another — perfect for races. In the summer, participants can take their pick of the Power of Four trail run or mountain bike races, with courses stretching from Snowmass to Aspen Mountain. For those looking for a similar experience, but not quite as much vertical feet, there are abbreviated versions. Learn more here.

Published July 2018

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