On a Roll

BY Tess Strokes | October 17, 2018 | Feature Features National

In Aspen, bikes are to summer what skis are to winter. While road cycling has always reigned during summer, the town's burgeoning mountain bike scene is redefining Aspen's two-wheel culture. Try these six classic routes—some on pavement, others on dirt. Before you set out, be sure to check Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association ( for seasonal closures and trail conditions.
In fall, the Tom Blake trail is carpeted in golden aspen leaves.

Road: Maroon Bells
The winding 9-mile climb through a valley of lush aspen groves to Maroon Lake—a picturesque pool of glacial-cold turquoise water framed by the world-famous Maroon Bells—never gets old.

Road: Independence Pass
The fourth-highest paved road in the state climbs 19 miles and 4,200 feet to Independence Pass, offering stunning panoramic views of the snowcapped Elk Mountain Range.

Road: Ashcroft
Cyclists love Castle Creek Road’s gradual 1,800 feet of elevation gain and 13 miles of scenic curves along a roaring creek surrounded by Sound of Music Alpine views. Along the way, make a cultural stop at historic Ashcroft ghost town or fuel up at the world-class Pine Creek Cookhouse restaurant.

Trail: Tom Blake
This 3.9-mile singletrack traverses the bottom of Snowmass Mountain through dense aspen groves. When the fall foliage peaks, its smooth path will be blanketed in yellow leaves.

Trail: Sunnyside
One of Aspen’s most revered bike rides, Sunnyside lures riders from the Hunter Creek Valley up to the dark timber forest of Four Corners. The ride transports you through one the prettiest aspen stands in the area and down a section of challenging red rocks for an 18-mile loop.

Trail: Government Trail
As soon as you leave Snowmass on Government Trail, you’ll feel as if you’ve left civilization behind. The trail winds 6.6 miles to Aspen through evergreen stands, aspen groves, gilded meadows, technical rock sections and across several streams on its way to Buttermilk ski area and, eventually, Maroon Creek bridge. The well-ridden trail also flows from Buttermilk to Snowmass (Locals call it “Reverse Government.”)

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