Situated on a collection of Open Space parcels between Snowmass’ Owl and Brush Creek roads, Sky Mountain Park has quickly gained steam as one of Aspen’s favorite places to mountain bike. Each year since 2010, the Sky Mountain Park area has added new trails to its mix and now boasts nine interconnected trails.
The most recent additions came in Airline and Deadline trails in 2014, which are quite the joyride for downhill enthusiasts. Both offer a collection of tight berms, whoop-di-dos, small airs and fast, arching turns, but each has its unique features. As riders descend from the top of Airline, they're treated to balcony views of the airport and Roaring Fork Valley below and Independence Pass to the east. Deadline, a one-way downhill trail, is reminiscent of a lift-accessed flow trail and offers bikers squeal-inducing berms and even a true "S" turn.
To get to these new additions, you'll need to navigate the 15 miles of singletrack in Sky Mountain Park, so we compiled some insider intel to help you get to the goods and enjoy the journey. This mini guide includes tips, ideal trails for certain stripes of bikers, and route suggestions.
Bikers have four trails for starting points, but there are technically three ways to access the playful, flowy trails and 360-degree views that Sky Mountain Park bestows upon its visitors.
Thanks to the stellar Aspen Snowmass bike path, you can make a two-wheeled trek from downtown Aspen without having to drive to the trailhead. Most people prefer to ride the bike path to Buttermilk and cross the underpass and ride along Owl Creek Road next to the airport until the paved path connects with Airline. From here, bikers ascend 750 feet through lush aspen groves, up 12 tight berms, and into exposed sage-brush and wildflower fields. This route is the most popular for locals who live in downtown Aspen. Most will simply turn around where the trail meets up with Cozyline and ride back down the way they came, which is a delight for those who like downhill-style trails.
Rather than turning at the underpass, it's also possible to stay straight, ride along the Aspen Airport Business Center frontage road, and hop Highway 82 for one mile until you reach the Intercept Lot. Here, you can ascend up Cozyline, which is a more forgiving ascent. Typically, local bikers will ride down Airline from here, turning it into a loop back to Aspen, but it's also possible to hop on Skyline Ridge Trail to access Deadline Trail, the newest and most thrilling trail of them all. But, you're going back to Aspen, so you'll need to hop on Viewline to get back toward Skyline Ridge or take the easy Brush Creek Bike Path back to Cozyline. There's plenty to choose from to add variety on each outing.
Owl Creek Road
If you don't want to ride the four-plus miles along the Aspen bike path, drive about three miles up Owl Creek Road, until you reach Mandalay Lane. Park here and hop on the trail on the other side of the road, which will be Highline. From Highline, a cross-country-style trail, you can access lower Deadline or head over to Viewline to access everything off of Skyline Ridge Trail.
Viewline and Ditchline are easy to access from the Snowmass Village roundabout area. From the top of Viewline, it's possible to continue straight along Skyline Ridge Trail or head right to Deadline. An alternative option is to ride Tom Blake from Snowmass Mall or Base Village to Highline. Whichever route you choose, you can't avoid the Viewline trail ascent, which will challenge your legs and lungs on tight switchbacks and 750 feet of climbing.
As noted, Tom Blake is one option, but there are much longer tack-on rides. Rim Trail , which is accessible from Snowmass Mall, provides an additional 10 miles of cross-country riding through spectacular wildflower fields, and provides excellent center-stage views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. However, Government Trail , a 13-mile one-way ride and one of the most popular in Aspen, can be accessed via Tom Blake and and puts mountain bikers back at the base of Buttermilk.
The Do's and Don'ts
Ready to experience all the awesomeness of Aspen mountain biking at Sky Mountain Park? Some do's and don'ts to keep in mind before hopping in the saddle.
Do wear sunscreen. Sky Mountain Park was aptly named: There's a whole lot of sky and not a lot of shade.
Do bring at least two liters of water. You're in the Rockies—it's dry and the sun is strong.
Do be aware of uphill traffic when riding down Airline and vice versa. The Airline downhill is awesome and would be best enjoyed if it was a one-way, but the reality is that it's a dual-directional trail.
Don't bring Fido. Dogs are not permitted in Sky Mountain Park, which is a protected wildlife habitat.
Don't miss a jaunt down Deadline or Airline.
Don't try to ride Sky Mountain Park before May 15 or after December 1. This area is closed for wildlife migration and calving.