Top 5 Places to Bicycle

BY Christine Benedetti | May 15, 2017 | Feature Features

Bicycling season in the Roaring Fork Valley is officially here. The Aspen Cycling Club recently started its weekly Wednesday night race series and the grueling 10-mile, 2,300-foot Ride for the Pass returns on Saturday. But you don't have to spin like a pro to enjoy the scenic cycling routes around Aspen. Here are five ways to enjoy the roads and trails on two wheels.
Cycling in Snowmass Mountain's bike park offers spectacular views, like this one of Mt. Daly.

1. Getting to the base of the Maroon Bells — two of the most iconic peaks in North America — requires taking a public bus between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (beginning in June) when the 9-mile stretch of road is closed to car traffic. But that same restriction makes for stress-free cycling. Hop on your bike and pedal up Maroon Creek Road, climbing 1,600 feet to reach Maroon Lake and an incredible vista.

2. The adjacent Castle Creek Valley is similar in distance and vertical, covering 1,800 feet in 11 miles. But the rewards are different. At the top of the climb, disembark from your bike to explore the ghost town of Ashcroft, once home to 2,000 people, or treat yourself to lunch at the Pine Creek Cookhouse, known for its Colorado cuisine.

3. To make your heart pump, drop into the 50-plus miles of mountain biking on Snowmass Mountain. The Elk Camp Gondola starts running in late June, providing access to everything from smooth trails with open corners to more challenging terrain. For those new to the sport, Aspen Skiing Co. offers bike rentals and lessons too.

4. For a more mild experience, take the Rio Grande Trail 8 miles from Aspen to Woody Creek to Hunter S. Thompson’s old hangout, the Woody Creek Tavern. The ride is slightly downhill on the way there, which means one too many of their legendary margaritas may make it more difficult on the way back.

5. In recent years, local open space officials have turned the hills behind the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport into a mountain biking playground. Dubbed Sky Mountain Park, try departing from the Intercept Lot and ascending the moderate Cozyline to come down Airline, full of banked turns and lots of smiles.

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