“A climb up Buttermilk Mt. that descends back to Tiehack via Buttermilk Bowls and Government Trail.
— Mike Pritchard
This loop actually looks like a figure eight on the map as the dirt road climb up Buttermilk Mountain ski area, crosses over the Government Trail
singletrack descent. The big steady climb is rewarded with excellent views of the Maroon Creek valley, Pyramid Peak, and top notch singletrack descending. The early portion of singletrack descending is rutted and challenging, providing a sense of overall adventure to the ride.
Portions of this loop, west of the ski area boundary, are closed May 15 - June 20 for elk calving season.
From the base of the Tiehack side of Buttermilk Mountain ski area, climb the summer work road upwards to the right. After a quarter mile, make a left at the fork in the road, this is the Oregon Trail
. It may appear that the fork is just singletrack, but you'll very soon see that it's actually an old doubletrack road that climbs at a gentle rate, traversing from Tiehack side of the mountain to the main Buttermilk side of the mountain. As the road again dwindles back to singletrack, the Oregon Trail
abruptly ends when it meets the Buttermilk Mountain summer work road. Make a left on the road, and begin climbing the mountain in earnest.
The road is steep at times as it winds its way up towards the Cliffhouse Restaurant. Big views of the Roaring Fork Valley are behind you most of the time if remember to look back. It's worth taking a break once you reach the Cliffhouse restaurant to enjoy views of the glacial carved, U-shaped Maroon Creek valley leading up to the 14er Pyramid Peak.
Continue steeply up the work road just beyond the Cliffhouse for another half mile to reach the very top of the West Buttermilk ski lift. From here, find the Buttermilk Bowls trail that leads even further up to the ridge where the adventure riding is the reward. Follow this trail to the hike a bike descent, and then the fall line trail section that finally intersects with the Government Trail
. Make a right on Government Trail
, where both super sweet and super challenging sections await, including the Rock Garden and The Root. Before long you'll be back where you started.
This ride can easily be ridden from downtown Aspen without having to drive to the Tiehack parking lot. See other Rides and Trails in the system to put together your own route.