“A backcountry ridgeline route above the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan river valleys - a classic!”
— Leslie Kehmeier
Need to Know
This is a remote backcountry trail. Riders have been known to lose the trail, and stay out overnight. Be prepared for a long ride with all the right equipment to get you safely back to the trailhead! Download mtbproject to your phone to help with route finding.
Most locals tackle the A-K as an all-day adventure connecting Aspen to Basalt or use a shuttle to start on Kobey Park Rd. (FS Rd. 508)
. At the eastern end of the trail, you'll see a small cairn of rocks marking the intersection, and 50 yards later a sign that labels the trail as "Kobey Trail No. 2186". The A-K is named Kobey Trail by the White River National Forest signs on the ground for the first few miles until an intersection with Red Canyon Trail (FS 1933)
, where the signage changes to call it "Arbaney Kittle Trail No. 2186".
The Arbaney-Kittle Trail is one of the Roaring Fork Valley's longest and highest elevation classic trails. It follows the ridge that separates the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan Rivers and offers excellent views of Ruedi Reservoir and Red Table Mt to the north, and the breadth of the Elk Range and Mount Sopris to the south.
Most riders tackle the trail from east to west, somewhat limiting climbing, while providing a huge descent all the way down towards Basalt. The trail combines classic singletrack through mature aspen groves and dark timber forests, short sections of doubletrack, a crux hike-a-bike section along a rocky ridgeline, overgrown trail segments that will keep the adventure level high, and thousands of feet of fast descending as you tackle the final miles of the trail down to Basalt.
The first 7.5 miles of trail are open to motorcycles, which does seem to help to keep this remote trail in decent shape each summer. During this first part of the trail, review the MTB Project mapping to avoid taking a wrong turn on routes to the south. Once you've reached Red Rim Rd.
, look for an intersection on your right to continue on the A-K Trail; from this point west to Basalt the trail is closed to motorcycles and sees less traffic.
About 1.5 miles west of Red Rim Rd.
, you'll encounter the half-mile crux of the trail. The ridge you've been riding turns to rocks, small cliffs, and the biggest views of the ride. The 10+ minute hike-a-bike begins. While you'll find cairns occasionally marking the way, some rideable sections, and even some good trail to navigate on both the north and south sides of the ridge. Use your best judgement and follow the path of least resistance while not straying too far from the actual ridge. When a rideable trail presents itself again on the ridge, you'll still encounter heavy corridor growth and may lose the trail for a short distance, especially on a short, steep section that has some old switchbacking trail obscured by vegetation. Refer to the MTB Project mobile app
frequently in this area to ensure you are still on route, or close to it. A sharp right-hand turn marks the end of difficult route finding; this is about three miles west of the Red Rim Rd.
Climbs get shorter, descents get faster, and then steeper on the final eight miles of the trail. Fallen trees can be common on the remote parts of the trail. Be aware as the final steep descent is popular with hikers on shorter trips from the western trailhead.