This ride has a little bit of every: mellow cruising through aspens, solid climbing, fast descending, and a bit of hike-a-bike to an amazing summit viewpoint.
From the Elk parking lot, follow the paved path on the west end up to the base of the Lower Beaver Creek Express lift. Follow doubletrack up a ski run with some switchbacks. It soon switches to mostly singletrack and enters aspen forest for most of the way.
You'll arrive at Village to Village trail and take a right. This section is very easy and pretty fun, but can be crowded - be careful! It's quite flat for several miles until you reach the very end of the Arrowhead ski area and junction with A-10 Loop
(and Arrowhead Mountain Trail).
The A-10 Loop
is not marked, but it's the one going uphill from this junction. Use the MTB Project mobile app!
It starts off pretty moderately through beautiful aspen forest and meadows, but it get steeper as you continue on. A hard, sustained climb will take you almost to a saddle, but you veer off before reaching the top. You'll soon be above this point and have a better view anyways.
From this meadow, a solid 10 minute hike-a-bike lies ahead. A rider with rock star fitness could maybe clean it, but that would be amazing... You hit a false summit and the angle kicks back (and becomes rideable) until you get to the true summit and an amazing view.
Head down on skinny, bouncy trail over lots of roots and rocks. You would not want to ride up this... but it's fine going down. You pass through aspens for a while but it gets drier as you continue down, and feels desert-life by the bottom.
Be ready for some small drops and downed trees, but in general, it flows very well, especially the middle 3rd of the descent, which is pristine singletrack through aspens. The last 3rd is quite a bit steeper, and you'll use lots of brake negotiating blind corners.
From the end of the trail, turn left on the road and look for a dirt track leading to Highway 6. Follow the highway for a couple miles back to the start.