Rio Grande Cross-Country Skiing

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About

Summary

In the winter months sections of the trail from Aspen to Basalt are groomed for cross-country skiing. Dogs are allowed on the 7.3-mile stretch of trail from Aspen to Woody Creek, and it’s possible to ski all the way to Emma in Basalt, which is a little more than 12 miles from the Aspen trailhead.

Written by

Leah Fielding

Distance

24.0 miles

The whole trail is 24 miles, so it's up to you how far you go!

Destination Distance From Downtown

5.5 miles

Difficulty

1 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 hours

Depends on how long you want to be out there.

Seasonality

Spring and Winter

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

This relatively flat 24-mile trail runs from Aspen U.S. Post Office to Glenwood Springs adjacent to the mighty Roaring Fork River. Leashed dogs are allowed on the 7.3-mile stretch of trail from Aspen to Woody Creek, and it’s possible to ski all the way to Emma in Basalt, which is a little more than 12 miles.

What Makes It Great

Built within the former rail corridor of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) Aspen Branch, the Rio Grande Trail is partly paved and partly gravel and ranges from about three feet to six feet wide.

In 1997, the derelict rail corridor and track were purchased using a combination of funding from local governments, Great Outdoors Colorado, the Colorado Department of Transportation, and Pitkin County Open Space and Trails. This purchase presented an opportunity to explore transportation alternatives to State highway 82 congestion and the challenge of creating recreation connectivity in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The trail runs through riverside aspen groves and open sage bush-dotted meadows that provide snow-capped Rocky Mountain views. You can expect to see waterfalls, fishermen and wildlife.

Who is Going to Love It

Beginner skiers, youngsters or those who prefer a slower, more gentle pace will love the flat grade of the slope. The Rio Grande Trail is also perfect for the more experienced skier who wants a long ski. Skiing to and from Emma provides nearly 25 miles of trail.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From downtown Aspen, drive down the hill on Mill Street. Take a right onto Rio Grande and park in the parking structure. You can walk across the street to Puppy Smith street. At the four-way stop sign you’ll see signs for the Rio Grande. The trail begins right next to the U.S. Post Office.

For nordic grooming reports between Aspen and Basalt, call (970) 925-2145 or visit aspennordic.com.

Location

Rio Grande Cross-Country Skiing

Aspen, CO, 81611
39.19384, -106.81953

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