10 Amazing Mountain Biking Destinations in Colorado

From high desert vistas to wildflower-studded mountainsides, Colorado offers some of the best views and most fun you can have on two wheels. Whether you’re a seasoned expert or just starting out, there’s a trail for you. Stay on track by checking in at a local bike shop before your ride or by using an app such as MTB Project or Trailforks.

By: Nick Cote
Related To:

Photo By: Nick Cote

Photo By: Nick Cote

Photo By: Nick Cote

Photo By: Nick Cote

Photo By: Nick Cote

Photo By: Nick Cote

Photo By: Nick Cote

Photo By: Nick Cote

Photo By: Nick Cote

Photo By: Nick Cote

Eagle

Few destinations have gone as far as Eagle, Colorado to welcome mountain bikers. Not only can you ride on dirt nearly anywhere in town on their "singletrack sidewalk" network, you can also access over 100 miles of city-maintained trails from town. Located two hours west of Denver, this well-built and well-signed trail network has enough to keep riders of all levels entertained. For beginners looking to advance their skills, Haymaker offers five miles of bumps, rollers, berms and other features to build confidence. Intermediate and advanced riders will want to grind up Bellyache Road for three miles to access Pool and Ice Rink, The Boneyard and Redneck Ridge. Pool and Ice Rink, which begins and ends at the (you guessed it) Eagle Pool and Ice Rink, is a good introduction to the area’s trails, twisting and flowing 3.3 miles through pinon forests and sagebrush flats.

Local bike shop: Mountain Pedaler

Post-ride refreshments: Grab a pint of chamomile IPA, chips and salsa cream ale or house-made kombucha and root beer at Bonfire Brewing.

Fruita

This once-sleepy farming community four hours from Denver now sits comfortably among the ranks of world-class mountain biking destinations. Head north from Fruita to access the 18 Road Trails in the North Fruita Desert, a network of directional trails on BLM land with options for riders of all levels. From the trailhead, Prime Cut climbs gently through the desert for two miles to take you to the top of the trail system. Pumps, Bumps and Rollers (commonly referred to as "PBR") and Kessel Run are great for beginners, or more advanced riders looking for a warm-up. Both are fast and flowy with smooth berms and mellow grades. Intermediate and advanced riders will want to keep climbing up to Joe’s Ridge and Zippity Do Da. These roller-coaster rides wind along the top of an exposed ridgeline and have very steep, white-knuckle-inducing rollovers. All end up back at the beginning of Prime Cut, right where you need to be for more laps.

Local bike shop: Over the Edge Sports

Post-ride refreshments: Check out Hot Tomato Cafe, owned by two mountain bikers, for local brews and some of the best pizza in the state.

Ridgway

Five hours from Denver, this small town is home to one of the newest purpose-built (designed for mountain bikes) trail systems in the state. The Ridgway Area Trails, affectionately known as the "RAT" trails, feature dozens of miles (and counting) of smooth, flowing singletrack in the foothills of the San Juans. Well-marked and designed with all abilities in mind, beginner and intermediate riders will find plenty of options from short loops to all day excursions. Two trails, Rattus Maximus and The Big Cheese, lead to the top of the trail system, about three miles. From there, multiple trails give riders the option to head back down or link up with other trails in the system. For a full orientation and updates on new trails, head over to the RAT website.

Local bike shops: Ridgway Wrench and Ridgway Adventure Sports

Post-ride refreshments: Grab a pizza and a beer that was made right behind the bar at Colorado Boy Pub and Brewery.

Crested Butte

Mountain biking roots run deep here, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic community of cyclists than those that are lucky enough to call Crested Butte home. With over 750 miles of trails in Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley, it’s not hard to see why. Intermediate and advanced riders can explore rugged, high alpine trails such as Trail 401, Doctor Park, Teocalli Ridge and the recently-finished Baxter Gulch trail. Beginners can start right from town and ride Lower Loop and Upper Lower Loop or connect to those trails from Lupine for a longer ride, around 12 miles. With literally hundreds of options for riding, first-timers may want to reach out the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA) for some local knowledge.

Local bike shop: Crested Butte Sports

Post-ride refreshments: It’s no secret that the best pizza in town can be found at The Secret Stash.

Gunnison

Overshadowed by the mountain biking mecca of Crested Butte, riders are starting to catch on that Hartman Rocks in Gunnison, not only has some of the most unique riding in the state, but also no crowds. Stretching out across 8,000 acres of desert, the area is filled with slickrock features, flowy trails and some extremely technical options for expert riders. Intermediate and advanced riders will find plenty of challenges on trails such as Rattlesnake, Beck’s and Collarbone Alley. Beginners will find mellower terrain on Broken Shovel, Sea of Sage, Luge and Lost Dog. Most trails are only a few miles, so plan on connecting to other trails for a longer ride. With over 150 trails in the area, first-timers should check in with a local bike shop for tailored recommendations.

Local bike shop: Tomichi Cycles

Post-ride refreshments: If you ride early to beat the heat, grab a hearty breakfast or lunch at Back Country Cafe.

Buffalo Creek

Just over an hour from Denver, this popular trail system has some of the most diverse trails in the Front Range. Featuring a section of the famed Colorado Trail, which spans from Durango to Denver, and newly-built trails designed for biking, the 75+ miles of singletrack easily absorb the hordes of riders that flock here from Denver. Better suited to intermediates and up, Little Scraggy is a good introduction to the variety found here. From rocky, technical features to rolling, flowy trails through thick pine stands and machine-built berms, this 12.5-mile loop will show you what to expect from others in the system.

Local bike shop: Evergreen Mountain Sports

Post-ride refreshments: Don’t wait until you’re back in Denver for a good meal. Zoka’s in Pine hits the spot and is just a few minutes down the road from the trailhead.

Boulder

The Flatirons in Boulder are a popular hiking destination, but for great views and fewer crowds head south to Doudy Draw. The trail begins near the mouth of Eldorado Canyon and winds up to the top of a mesa, where it connects to the Spring Brook Loop. Here the trail twists through the woods before opening up to a field with excellent views of the Flatirons. Clocking in at under five miles for the Doudy Draw/Spring Brook Loop ride, this is a good option for beginners or a quick sunset ride close to town.

Local bike shop: University Bicycles

Post-ride refreshments: Grab a beer and an empanada at The Tune Up, a tap room inside of the Full Cycle bike shop.

Golden

To anyone who’s ridden the trails around Golden, it should come as no surprise that a growing number of bike manufacturers are calling it home. Many of the trails nearby are rocky and technical, but North Table Mountain has good options for beginners and intermediates, as well as a few surprises to keep advanced riders on their toes. Don’t be discouraged by the gravel road you climb at the beginning; singletrack options will soon appear. Once on top of the mesa, head left toward the Rim Rock and Mesa Top trails for an easier ride. For a longer, more difficult ride go right and do the 7.5-mile North Table Loop trail. Either way offers expansive views of Denver and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Local bike shop: Golden Bike Shop

Post-ride refreshments: Grab a brew at New Terrain Brewing at the foot of North Table Mountain.

Colorado Springs

While more outdoor enthusiasts move to Denver every day, Colorado Springs has been hiding excellent trails right in plain sight. Right in the heart of the city, Palmer Park offers intermediate and advanced riders 23 miles of rocky, challenging trails on over 700 acres with plenty of options for shorter loops. Beginners and intermediates will find smooth trails with great views, jagged rock formations and few crowds at Red Rock Canyon Open Space. Loop and out-and-back trails start at just a few miles, with plenty of options to connect multiple trails for a longer ride.

Local bike shop: Criterium Bicycles

Post-ride refreshments: Trails End, a bike-themed taproom, lets you pour your own drink from over 40 taps offering beer, cider, wine and kombucha.

Estes Park

Best known as the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, most visitors who pass through here won’t spend much time outside of the national park. That means you’ll be likely to find uncrowded trails and plenty of solitude, such as at Hermit Park Open Space. The 4.6-mile Limber Pine trail and the 1-mile Moose Meadow trail offer purpose-built singletrack for beginner and intermediate riders. A mix of easy single and double-track trails through Homestead Meadows leads riders on a tour of century-old cabins, offering a history lesson on Colorado’s ranching past.

Local bike shop: Estes Park Mountain Shop

Post-ride refreshments: Rock Cut Brewing is just off the main drag in town. While they don’t serve food, you’re welcome to bring your own.

Shop This Look