With a bevy of lift-served trails, legendary cross-country trails, and scenic rides, Aspen is lauded as one of Colorado's mountain biking meccas. But it's not all single-track, technical trails, and expert-level routes best suited for the hardcore riders: There are also several choice areas for families. In Aspen, experienced mountain biking parents can take their pick of ways to introduce the sport to their offspring, with plenty of learning areas and beginner trails perfect for honing skills and developing confidence.
Here, we've gathered five family friendly mountain bike trails in Aspen that will please every stripe of mountain biker in your brood.
Starting from the U.S. Post Office on Puppy Smith Road in downtown Aspen, the Rio Grande is a flat, wide bike path that winds along the Roaring Fork River for 42 miles to Glenwood Springs. At Stein Park, about two miles from the trailhead, the trail turns from pavement to gravel. Rio Grande is an ideal path for the uninitiated biker and provides plenty of room for error. It’s also a great trail to begin learning how to shift gears.
Snowmass Bike Park
Lift-serviced trails are a great way to get little ones into mountain biking: They don’t have to overexert themselves by pedaling uphill, which leaves more focus for learning skills. Snowmass Bike Park offers access to several great, family-friendly trails via the Elk Camp Gondola.
At Four Mountain Sports at the base of Elk Camp Gondola, families with first-timers can get advice and get geared up or sign up for a clinic. A good place to show kids the ropes, a good place to start is the skills park and mini pump track at the first stop on Elk Camp. Once it’s time to take the newly learned skills to the trail, continue up Elk Camp and hop on one of the following trails:
- Verde: A beginner downhill trail designed by Gravity Logic, Verde features 3.8 miles of flowy fun perfect for first timers, or intermediates who are working on their cornering and fundamentals.
- Easy Rider: With 2.7 miles of wide, gentle trail that runs from the top of Elk Camp Gondola down to Snowmass Base Village, Easy Rider offers up evergreen forests, aspen trees, and wide-open meadows. With no steep grades, this extra-wide trail was built specifically to help beginning riders hone their skills before advancing to intermediate terrain. This trail connects with Cross-Mountain and the Government Trail in several places.
- Powerline to Tom Blake: From Snowmass’ downhill trails it’s also possible to access some great, cross-country intermediate trails. Powerline to Tom Blake takes families through four miles of beautiful wildflower meadows and streams to cool, shady aspen forests. Ending at the Owl Creek parking lot, your brood can easily jump on Owl Creek road to get back to the base village.
Mountain Biking at Snowmass is offered daily June 20–September 7 and weekends throughout September. Adult and child lift tickets are $41; a season pass is $199. Season pass holders can purchase lift tickets for $20.
Upper Hunter Creek Valley
One of Aspen’s most popular hiking and biking areas, Hunter Creek Valley provides families a gentle out-and-back trail that stretches for several miles through a valley anchored by the babbling Hunter Creek and bookended by hillsides of aspen trees. Historical mining cabins dot the route; take a quick break to pop inside a couple of them.
Experienced mountain biking families can challenge themselves by riding up Smuggler Mountain Road, a 1.5-mile. steep Jeep road that provides access to the Hunter Creek Trail and a slew of other more advanced options. Less experienced riders should drive to the upper Hunter Creek access via Red Mountain Road and start their ride from the parking lot.
Located just up the street from the Snowmass Base Village on Divide Drive, Rim Trail is an ideal venue for beginners looking to test their skills on a cross-country trail or intermediates looking for a fun ride. Everybody will love the quick, easy climbs, with descents that are playful and flowy instead of too steep. After the first climb, which is the longest, take a break and a family photo at a platform that looks directly out to Snowmass Mountain and Mt. Daly. Mountain bikers have the option to ride the seven-mile loop from Divide Drive to Rodeo and back to Snowmass Base Village along the paved bike path or turn around and head back the way they came.
Sky Mountain Park
Aspen’s newest trail system, Sky Mountain Park, located between Snowmass’ Brush Creek and Owl Creek, features eight miles of interconnected trails that marked by playful berms and smooth terrain. It's a bit out of reach for the youngest of tots, but older beginners and intermediates will find this area to be a haven for practicing their skills and challenging themselves in a comfortable way.