Colorado MTB Trails
10 Best Colorado Trails
From high-mountain descents to high-desert singletrack, here are 10 unforgettable Rocky Mountain rides
, to all-day, big-mountain epics around Crested Butte
, to Durango’s exquisitely maintained Horse Gulch trail system. Here’s a look at 10 of our favorite Colorado trails.
Doctors Park, Near Almont
The ultimate foreplay ride, this 19.5-mile loop starts with a 2,500-vertical-foot fire-road climb before transitioning to a middle-ring doubletrack grunt to the trail’s highpoint at 10,877 feet. From there, riders drop in on one of the best extended cross-country downhills in Colorado. “You can definitely make the argument that Doctor’s is the best trail in the area,” says Dave Ochs. And that’s saying a whole lot considering Ochs, a local race organizer, lives 20 minutes away in the mountain bike haven of Crested Butte.
Colorado Trail, Tiger Road, Near Breckenridge
Covering 500 miles between Denver in the northeast and Durango in the southwest, the Colorado Trail is littered with amazing riding opportunities. One of the best is a stretch near the ski town of Breckenridge. From Highway 9, head east on Tiger Road to the Dredge parking lot, then jump on your bike and continue up the road to the North and Middle Forks road junction. Now turn right, keeping an eye out for the Colorado Trail crossing the road. Go left here and grind you way up a sustained climb, staying left at the fork about 40 minutes into the ascent. Now sit back and enjoy. The trip down has several sustained go-as-fast-as-your-nerves-can-handle sections, plus lots of amazing Rocky Mountain views.
The infamous Horsethief drop-in is a rite-of-passage for Fruita locals. (Anne Keller)
Horsethief Bench, Kokopelli Trail System, Fruita
Pro rider and Fruita local Ross Schnell calls this 3.7-mile loop the region’s quintessential ride. “It’s chock full of primo rocky, technical, and flowing desert singletrack.” To get there, head a few miles west on I-70 from Fruita, then take exit 15 to the main Kokopelli Trail System parking area. Head down Mary’s Loop trail until you come to the Horsethief turn-off on your left. “Then ride (or hike) down the infamous Horsethief drop-in,” says Schnell. “There’s bragging rights for anyone who can clean it.” Once at the bottom of this boulder-strewn pitch, buckle up for a high-speed clockwise loop that’s light on climbing and heavy on fun. Schnell can complete the circuit in about 16 minutes, but most mortals will be out there for at least 25 minutes, longer if you take a few minutes to stop and enjoy the majestic views of red rock cliffs and the Colorado River below—or do a second lap.
Colorado Trail Off Kenosha Pass, West of Denver
Another top-flight Colorado Trail ride, avoid the afternoon thunderstorms and get an early start for this approximately 24-mile out-and-back high-alpine adventure that starts at the summit of Kenosha Pass off highway 285, about 90 minutes outside Denver. You’ll spend the first few hours zipping through aspen groves, and climbing through thick pine tree forests, before popping into the open for the final push to the summit of treeless Georgia Pass, elevation 11,585 feet. None of the climbs are overly steep, but you’ll definitely feel the sting of the altitude. The return trip is primarily a downhill singletrack romp, but make sure to save a little gas for the final push back up to your car.
Trail 401, Crested Butte
Arguably the best-known singletrack in the Crested Butte area, Trail 401 is required riding for any self-respecting mountain biker. The adventure typically starts at the Copper Creek trailhead parking area a half mile past the Gothic town site on Gothic Road. From there it’s a 5-mile dirt road grind to the top of Schofield Pass where you turn right onto a twisting tree-shaded trail. The climbing continues for another 1.3 miles up to a spectacular high alpine meadow. Stop for a minute and enjoy the distant views of the majestic Maroon Bells Mountains, then buckle up for one of the most mind-blowing singletrack descents in the state. “It’s not too technical, so most people can ride it,” says pro racer Jenny Smith, who lives in nearby Gunnison and rides for the NoTubes elite women’s team. “And if you hit it at the right time the wild flowers will be going off. It’s a really magical experience.”
It goes without saying that a state bisected by the Rocky Mountains is going to have amazing mountain biking trails. Indeed, Colorado is one of the country’s premier fat-tire destinations, blessed with myriad options, ranging from the swoopy and smooth high-dessert delights in