You’d be hard-pressed to find a state more packed with incredible mountain biking trails than Colorado. Situated in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, there are countless trails ranging from beginner to advanced that take advantage of this state’s mountainous terrain.
Expect to find trails that will both challenge your technical skills as an MTB rider as well as trails with so many breathtaking views that you may find it hard to keep your eyes on the path ahead of you.
Given that Colorado is a mountainous state, it gets plenty of snowfall each year. As such, this is a place where mountain biking has on and off-seasons. MTB trails in Colorado typically begin to open in April with the arrival of warmer temperatures and close in October with the onset of snow.
This varies given that some popular MTB trails will see significantly more snow than others. Crested Butte, home to many of the state’s best trails such as Doctor Park and Trail 401, sees an average of more than 90 inches of snow each year while Grand Junction, another haven for Colorado mountain biking, sees just 16 inches of snow each year.
Also, keep in mind that much of Colorado is at high altitude, with some trails eclipsing 11,000 feet. Intense activity at this altitude usually requires visitors to acclimatize in order to safely adapt to the altitude change.
Here are 10 of the best mountain bike trails in Colorado.
1. Trail 401, Crested Butte
Considered by many to be a can’t-miss mountain biking trail in the Crested Butte area of Colorado, Trail 401 offers some of the best views you can find.
As with many MTB trails in Colorado, you begin with a sustained climb. Only here, there’s plenty of amazing vistas to distract you as you work your way up.
Your effort is rewarded with a downhill route that traverses fields loaded with wildflowers and offers breathtaking views of surrounding mountains. The descent is exhilarating, and not overly technical, making it accessible to intermediate riders.
2. Doctors Park, Crested Butte
If you think that it’s not MTBing if it’s not singletrack, then you haven’t met the Doctors Park trail in mountain biking mecca Crested Butte.
After a chest burning climb of 2,500 vertical feet up a doubletrack fire road to reach the trail’s high point of nearly 11,000 feet, indulge in an exhilarating five miles of flowy downhill that locals will tell you is among the best in the area.
After a short steep and rocky section that follows, enjoy speeding through miles of aspen forest. And just to challenge you, a series of rocky switchbacks and steep drop-offs test your mettle as you near the end.
3. PBR (Pumps, Bumps & Rollers), Fruita
This short track off of the 18 Road is essentially a giant pump track, with tons of berms, rollers, jumps, and flows easily leading into one another for an active ride along its brief length.
Although this trail is packed with fun features, it’s not especially technical, being suitable for beginners and even kids. The usual advice is to pay attention, take your hands off the brakes, and let fly. It’s also a great warmup for more seasoned riders preparing to take off for one of the longer trails in the area.
Fans of newer, more challenging trails may find it a bit tame, but it still has a lot to offer to riders of all skill levels.
4. Monarch Crest Trail, Salida
This ride starts with a shuttle ride 2,300 feet up, dropping you off nearly 12,000 feet above sea level and above the tree line. With no trees to mar the view, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the Continental Divide as you navigate a pass that is fairly technical.
After a short climb, you begin the long descent down the Monarch pass. The ride becomes easier and faster as you descend.
Unlike some of the other trails on this list that include demanding long climbs, this is a mainly downhill trek, as you spend most of the day descending through breathtaking alpine forests.
5. Horse Gulch Trail System, Durango
Horse Gulch Trail System, one of the many MTB trails that border the city of Durango, has a diverse set of trails that attracts everyone from novice youth riders to serious competitors.
That’s because this trail system mixes in a range of beginner trails such as Meadow Loop, with its open fields and low scrub brush, to the seriously technical Radar Ridge with its gnarly rock gardens, big drops, and smooth rock faces.
This is a trail system that serves all levels of rider. Just be sure to take a lot of water and hydration with you as Durango gets swelteringly hot in the summertime.
6. Government Trail, Snowmass Village
Widely considered to be the best trail in the Aspen area, the Government Trail features nearly 10 miles of moderate to difficult singletrack that weaves in and around Aspen’s ski slopes. Rather than running up or down the mountain, this trail meanders along the side, minimizing the climbing.
You’ll climb little more than 400 feet during the whole ride. Views are amazing with a mix of scenic overlooks and runs through thick groves of aspen and flower-filled meadows.
This trail is demanding, requiring you to navigate difficult rock gardens and drops as high as 4’.
7. Buffalo Creek Big Loop, Pine
If you’re looking for a trail that you can cut your teeth on, or use to introduce your child to single track, then look no further than the Buffalo Creek Big Loop.
While this trail does feature some steep climbs, its smooth terrain allows you to let it rip as you wind your way through pine groves and recovering planned-burn forests.
With its expertly designed and maintained single track, backwoods setting, and amazing views, the Buffalo Creek Big Loop is one of only four MTB trails in the state to earn itself IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) Epic status.
8. Horsethief Bench Trail, Loma
If drop-offs are your thing, then you’ll need to check out the Horsethief Bench trail.
This mostly intermediate loop features a section that requires you to drop down a series of rock ledges. While none of the drops are huge individually, together they create an intimidatingly steep rock staircase that will test your bike handling abilities not to mention the effectiveness of your suspension.
Navigate it successfully and you can brag that you ran the Horsethief drop-in. Make sure you take the correct root when you start this trail or you’ll be carrying your bike up those rock ledges. The remainder of the trail is smooth and fast singletrack.
9. Kenosha Pass, Jefferson
Every top ten list needs to have a hidden gem on it, and the Kenosha pass section of the Colorado Trail is it.
What makes this trail so great is that it features everything that characterizes Colorado’s best trails; amazing views, thrilling downhills, beautiful aspen forests, steep climbs, and rocky singletrack.
There are even a few creek crossings to boot. Just be prepared to work as riding this challenging trail entails a grueling 4,000 feet of climbing, topping out at more than 11,500 feet as you ascend above the tree line to Georgia Pass.
10. Colorado Trail
We would be remiss if we didn’t include one of the more epic rides you can take on the Colorado Trail.
Although few can manage the more than two weeks it would require to take on the full length, the Silverton to Durango section offers a manageable overnight trip.
This challenging ride is filled with incredible views as you navigate mainly ridgelines, staying between 10,000 and 12,000 feet for nearly the entirety of the ride. In addition to the altitude, this ride involves some serious climbing, so you’ll need to be very fit to take it on.
For those looking for a challenge, the Silverton to Durango section is it.