“A view-filled tour from Aspen to Snowmass and back, via Sky Mountain Park.”
— Mike Pritchard on Jun 13, 2013
This Featured Ride is still in development or editorial review. It might not be ready for use.
RestrictionsPortions of this loop include Sky Mountain Park. These area are closed to recreation use (for wildlife) from December 1 to May 15. Dogs prohibited.
OverviewThis suggested loop ride takes in the singletrack and huge views of Sky Mountain Park. SMP is a recently acquired open space property that includes the ridge line between Brush and Owl Creeks, offering views towards Aspen, Independence Pass, Snowmass, 14ers of the rugged Elk Mountain range, and down valley views towards Mount Sopris and Basalt Mountain. The trails on this property are mostly new, with trail improvements ongoing and new trails scheduled to open in 2014 and beyond.
The mapped route and the following description includes different routes to and from downtown Aspen and the Owl Creek bike path which will lead you to Sky Mountain Park. To simplify route finding, you might choose just one of these two routes and use it as a simple out and back. Or, you could use the parking lot at the base of Buttermilk to cut off the beginning and ending miles described with this loop. The point is, the best mountain bike trails on this loop are the ones on Sky Mountain Park and in Snowmass: Skyline Ridge trail, Viewline trail, and Highline trail.
The loop around Sky Mountain Park and Owl Creek is described in a counter-clockwise direction, but it can be ridden in either direction.
DescriptionThis ride starts in downtown Aspen on Durant Street. Take Durant to the west until it meets Koch (Volleyball) Park. Here, you'll find the start of the Midland trail, which is a historic railroad alignment that follows the base of Shadow Mountain as you continue west. Midland is a dirt path that ends on Hopkins Ave. which is a signed bike route during summer months.
Make a left on Hopkins, a couple blocks later, make a left onto 7th St. Next, look for a paved bike path on your right about 50 yards later. This is the Marolt bike path that immediately takes you over a large pedestrian bridge high above the Castle Creek. You are now on the Marolt Open Space Property.
You could follow paved paths to the next dirt segment, but instead, study the mapped route to find a short singletrack segment through the meadow that doubles as a paragliding landing zone. Rejoin the paved bike path. Follow the bike path over two bridges crossing over Castle Creek Rd. & Maroon Creek Rd. After the second bridge, you'll find the dirt singletrack of the Moore Open Space property.
Follow the Moore Open Space trail to its end, then make a right over the beautiful steel arch pedestrian bridge that crosses over the Maroon Creek. After crossing the bridge, make a right onto paved Tiehack Rd. After a short climb, enjoy the fast descent down towards Highway 82. Make a left as if you're going to go under the highway, but then make a quick left onto golf car path / bike path, which will lead you to the base of Buttermilk. After just 40 yards on this golf cart path, make a right onto dirt paths and roads. Make your way to the base of the ski lifts, and then to the large parking lot beyond. (You could start/end your loop at this point.)
From Buttermilk Ski Area parking lot, make a left onto Owl Creek Rd. Ride the shoulder for about a quarter mile, then jump onto the adjacent bike path as soon as possible. The bike path parallels the Aspen Airport runway. Make a right onto Radar Rd. This is the beginning of the SMP open space property - you’ll find a kiosk and map at this point.
Climb up the steep dirt Radar Rd. to the top, and then begin the real fun by finding the singletrack of Skyline Ridge trail. Throughout this description, refer to the individual trails for more information. It’s worth stopping frequently along the ridge to enjoy the huge views in all directions. Skyline Ridge becomes the Viewline trail once the true descent begins down into Snowmass Village. At the bottom of Viewline, (another kiosk & map location), make a left onto the Highline trail. Follow signs for Highline as it climbs and then flattens out on its end point at Owl Creek Rd. Join up with the Owl Creek Trail bike path by climbing the paved road for 25 yards, then making a right. The Owl Creek Trail crests over a highpoint saddle a quarter mile later. It’s now time for an easy cruise back all the way back down to the Airport area where the loop started.
Follow the Owl Creek Trail all the way to its end point where it crosses under Highway 82. Make a right onto the bike path that connects the Aspen Airport Business Center to Aspen. You’ll now be riding parallel to Highway 82 on your way back to downtown Aspen. Shortly after crossing Cemetery Lane, this route continues on the sidewalks parallel to 82, to arrive at the relatively quiet ‘west end’ neighborhood where you’ll use Hallam St. to finish this ride at the Clark’s Market grocery store and Post Office, or wherever your final destination might take you!
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