“A view-filled tour from Aspen to Snowmass and back, via Sky Mountain Park.”
— Mike Pritchard
This 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.
The mapped route and the following description includes different routes to and from the base of Buttermilk Ski Area and the Owl Creek bike path which will lead you to Sky Mountain Park.
The loop around Sky Mountain Park and Owl Creek is described in a counter-clockwise direction so that the directional Deadline Trail
can be incorporated, but most of these trails can otherwise be ridden in either direction.
Need to Know
This loop ride is described as starting and ending at Buttermilk Ski Area's parking lot. By studying the maps, you can certainly start from downtown Aspen, and you can easily design this loop ride to work from parking areas at the Highway 82 / Brush Creek Rd. Intercept Lot, or from the Rodeo Lot in Snowmass Village.
Be aware of getting caught out in late afternoon thunderstorms; most trail rides in Sky Mountain Park require using the Skyline Ridge Trail
which can be a very exposed place during lighting storms.
From Buttermilk Ski Area parking lot, jump onto the Buttermilk Connector trail
(completed fall 2015), which will lead you to the adjacent paved Owl Creek Trail
which similarly parallels the Aspen Airport runway. About a hundred yards after the bike path veers away from the runway and starts to climb, make a right onto Airline Trail
where, soon enough, the real climbing begins.
As you climb up Airline Trail
, you might want to ring your bell as you approach blind corners. While uphill riders have the right of way, you'll likely encounter some trail traffic on this popular flowy trail. At the intersection with Cozyline Trail
, (a good place to pause for a breath and the view), make a left and continue the climb up to Skyline Ridge Trail
. Once on the ridge trail, its worth stopping to enjoy the huge views in all directions. Eventually, you'll arrive at the start of the Deadline Trail
on your left. If for some reason you don't want to roll down the berms, jumps and rollers of this trail, you could shortcut this loop a bit and descend down Viewline trail, but that is no longer the recommended downhill for bikes.
After enjoying Deadline, make a hard uphill left onto Highline trail
. After a fast traverse, make a right turn to join Lowline Trail
, which will loop you all the way back to Highline trail
. Soon you'll find yourself near the base of Viewline trail and a map/kiosk that can help to orient you. Jump on to the Ditchline Trail
for a bonus bit of singletrack, this will lead you to the paved Brush Creek Bike Path
. Make a right on the path and push a big gear down the valley, all the way down to the start of the Cozyline Trail
Find Cozyline just after the path crosses the creek with a large truss bridge. The climb up Cozyline can feel steep at times, but the grade relaxes quite a bit as you get higher up, especially as you approach the conclusion of the actual loop. Make a hard left onto Airline Trail
, where it's time for the great descent back down to the paved Owl Creek Trail
. Enjoy a final section of new modern bike-optimized singletrack by jumping back onto the Buttermilk Connector for your final mile back to your start at the parking lot for Buttermilk Ski Area.