Providing one of the Roaring Fork Valley’s top single-track experiences, Government runs 6.5 miles from the eastern flanks of Snowmass ski resort to the eastern, or Tiehack, side of Buttermilk ski resort.
Providing one of the Roaring Fork Valley’s top single-track experiences, Government runs 6.5 miles from the eastern flanks of Snowmass ski resort to the eastern, or Tiehack, side of Buttermilk ski resort. Most bikers ride from Snowmass to Buttermilk, but it’s possible to ride the trail from Buttermilk to Snowmass, which is called Reverse Snowmass and features a bit more climbing. For a quicker lap, many local bikers will ride up a cat-track road from the Tiehack chairlift all the way to The Cliffhouse Lodge, where riders can experience one of the best views of Pyramid Peak and flowy single track on Bandit Trail until it meets up with Government about 1/3 of the way down.
What Makes It Great
No matter which route you choose, gorgeous aspen groves, lush meadows, scenic overlooks, stream crossings and technical, rocky sections of trail demand your full attention throughout the ride. However, the route from Snowmass to Buttermilk is the most traditional way to enjoy Government so this profile will focus on that. Most riders start from Powerline trail, which is accessed from Elk Camp Work Rd., but others choose to ride up Tom Blake Trail from Owl Creek Road to the lung-bursting Anaerobic Nightmare trail. It’s also possible to access Government from the lift-accessed Valhalla downhill trail. Whichever starting point you opt for, get ready for a couple stream crossings early in the ride. The trail is mostly flat or rolling, with at least one notable climb mid-way through. There are several pervasive rock gardens sections before entering the Buttermilk portion of the ride. So be sure to keep your speed up!Once you’ve reached Buttermilk it’s time to enjoy one of Aspen’s best mountain biking descents. The fast, moderately technical ride down Tiehack takes riders through fields of wildflowers and down a couple sets of switchbacks and burms. There are some smaller rock drops dotted throughout, but nothing an intermediate mountain biker couldn’t handle. The most important feature on Government’s downhill is The Root. A gigantic tree, with gigantic roots sits in the middle of a switchback. Highly skilled bikers opt for the the shorter inside line which features a two- to four-foot roll down root ledges. It’s also possible to circumvent the tree and continue down the steep switchbacks below. Government Trail ends at the bottom of the Tiehack chairlift. From here, many bikers will ride over the Maroon Creek bridge back to Aspen.The end of the trail, when riding towards Buttermilk, dumps you out about a five minutes’ ride from downtown Aspen, where it’s possible to hop on the RFTA bus back to Snowmass to grab your car.
Who is Going to Love It
Government is a great ride for a variety of levels. Intermediate to advanced intermediate mountain bikers will find it challenging, while expert riders will enjoy testing the limits of their speed and technical skills on this trail. Because it offers a little bit of everything: cardio-intensive uphill, a rolling cross-country portion, technical rock gardens, small drops and a fast downhill, Government is an ideal ride for a group of riders with different trail preferences.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
If you’re starting from the Snowmass Base Village, which accesses Tom Blake, Powerline or Elk Camp Work Road to get to Government, parking is free in the parking structure during the summer months. Riders often park off Owl Creek Road or in the Rodeo Lot to access all of the mentioned trails. The portion of this trail that is west of the Buttermilk ski area boundary is closed May 15 - June 20 for elk calving season.