Snowmass Bike Park is the ideal summer playground

Snowmass Bike Park is the ideal summer playground

For mountain bikers, the state of Colorado offers countless miles of singletrack that snake their way through the Rocky Mountain landscape. From the Front Range, just outside of Denver, all the way to the Western border, riders can pedal their hearts out and not ever have to worry about running out of options. But for those who crave gravity-fed trails, the list of lift-accessed freeride destinations in the Centennial state can be counted on one hand. Keystone and Winter Park resorts are both well-known in the mountain bike scene for their breadth of technical rock gardens, wooden bridges and poppy lips, but just a little further west, the team at Aspen Snowmass is putting together a world-class bike park of their own, adding some variety to the Colorado freeride scene.

While Snowmass has a history of lift-accessed biking that dates back to the late 90s, it wasn’t until recently that the resort took a more progressive approach and teamed up with Gravity Logic to build its first true freeride trail. For those unfamiliar, Gravity Logic is the company behind the builds at Whistler, Winter Park and dozens of other respected bike parks around the globe. The product of their collaboration was a 2.8-mile trail dubbed Valhalla that debuted in 2010, snaking its way from the top of the Elk Camp gondola all the way down to the Snowmass base village, 1,400 vertical feet below. Offering beautifully-crafted berms, a large, wooden wall ride and flowy jump lines from top to bottom, it was a work of art and the first real taste of lift-accessed freeride biking in the Elk Mountains.

Valhalla was a breath of fresh air for Aspen’s riding scene but the team was well aware that one trail does not constitute a bike park and so it’s been the continued expansion of trails that’s put Snowmass on the map in riders’ minds. Each year the resort has grown its offerings with runs that cater to all abilities. While beginners and intermediates can hone their skills on the flowy corners of the Verde and Viking trails, advanced riders can now take the Elk Camp chairlift to the top of Snowmass to test their mettle on brand new trails like Animal Crackers and French Press. The riding up here begins at an elevation of 11,325 feet and offers distinctly different options.

French Press is a flowy dream of a trail that is made up of sweeping berms and fast rhythm sections that snake through the forest of upper Snowmass. Pristine corners combine with wooden features that are as smooth as your morning coffee and will have you loading the lift for a second lap before you catch your breath. Save some energy though, because you’ll need it for another one of the park’s newest trails, Animal Crackers. Steep and raw, this trail will rattle your handlebars as you descend two miles of rock gardens and off-camber sections of singletrack that force you to concentrate or pay the price.

Both of the aforementioned trails were just opened this summer yet have already played host to a handful of biking events, including the Snowmass Enduro race series as well as the Big Mountain Enduro (BME) series final which returned to Aspen earlier this month. The BME series attracts big name talent in the bike world and the fact that event organizers chose to host the finals in Aspen Snowmass is a true testament to the quality of trails that are being built there.

Looking forward, the resort is planning on opening the lower half of French Press in September and the Snowmass Master Plan, approved by the US Forest Service in 2017, includes details for more than 10 new trails to be built in the coming years.

If you want to see for yourself, you’ve got about a month left in the 2018 season to get out there and rip the new trails. The Snowmass bike park will be open every weekend in September for your thrill-seeking pleasure.

What you need to know:

Remaining 2018 Dates: September 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30
Full day ticket: $44
Hours: Elk Camp Gondola: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (last ride down at 4:15 p.m.)
Elk Camp Chairlift Hours: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (last ride down at 3:15 p.m.)

All photography courtesy of Aspen Snowmass

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