It's hard to deny that Snowmass has one of the best singletrack systems for mountain bikers in Colorado. Riding this loop in a day will give you a generous sampling of what's on offer, starting with modern flow and rolling jump lines on the Deadline Trail
, lush aspen forests and groves of columbine flowers along the Tom Blake
trail, rocky goodness and grassy ski meadows on the Cross Mountain Trail
, and finally concluding with epic mountain views and miles of fast & smooth descending on the Rim Trail
The loop is best ridden clockwise, although most of the trails do in fact ride well in both directions. If proceeding counter-clockwise, you'll need to adjust your course slightly for the Deadline Trail
's downhill only direction, and you'll probably spend some time pushing up a steep portion on the far western end of West Government Trail
The loop is shown as starting and ending at the large parking lot near the Snowmass Recreation Center, also know as the Rodeo Lot. It's easy to study the map and start and end your ride from closer to Snowmass Base Village, the Village Mall, or even the Snowmass Center.
This can be a time consuming loop ride, if not for the climbing you'll be undertaking, then for the views you'll want to stop and enjoy along the way. Some riders might choose to break the loop up into two or even three shorter rides over as many days. Along with the MTB Project mobile app
, a new system of trail signage installed in 2015 will help you find your way along the loop. A loop specific logo and trail sign markers are being planned for 2016 to further help you stay on course!
The trails on this loop are variously managed, funded, and maintained by Town of Snowmass Village's Parks and Trails Dept., Pitkin County Open Space & Trails, Snowmass Bike Park (ski area), and the White River National Forest. RFMBA works with these land managers and other partners to advocate for trail system improvements and promote volunteer stewardship opportunities for these and other trails.
Starting your ride at the Snowmass Recreation Center, pedal a short distance on the Brush Creek Bike Path
, when you cross Brush Creek Road
you'll be able to jump onto the Ditch Trail
for the start of your first climb. This trail was machine built and features gentle grades and wide radius turns.
At your first intersection you'll find a map and kiosk for Sky Mountain Park. Make a left here onto Viewline trail where the real climbing starts. This trail includes tight turns ascending through oak brush and sage meadows. It's not a long grunt, and increasing views back to the mountainous horizon beyond might distract you nicely.
This first climb tops out at the start of Deadline Trail
, a real treat so early on this big loop. This trail is only open to downhill direction traffic, and features big sweeping berm turns and a dozens of well constructed jumps you can either roll safely... or compress, release, and fly... This trail rides better the more you memorize it, so remember to pre-ride and re-ride... before you free-ride.
Deadline's 1.6 miles will be over much too soon. At trail end's T-intersection, make a left onto Highline trail
; the brief yards of climbing are followed by a nice fast section that follows and old ditch alignment. At trail's end, take care when crossing the often busy Owl Creek Rd. You'll note there's a small dirt parking lot near this crossing. Continue on the singletrack; after the road crossing, you're now on Tom Blake
Time to settle in for the day's second major climb. Tom Blake
ascends through mostly forested terrain and requires that you pay attention to trail signage so as to not lose the course. Stay on the trail by making a right when you encounter the bottom of Anaerobic Nightmare
. Follow the trail through a wide stream crossing that is very rideable even though you might get a foot or two wet.
Continue climbing, more steeply now, by making a sharp left onto the Powerline
trail. The tread becomes more narrow and rocky compared to earlier in the ride. As you climb, you might note other nearby gravity trails that nearly parallel the route. In fact, Powerline
's singletrack goes under a wooden table top bridge that's part of the Valhalla trail. The trail finds it's steepest portion just before topping out at trail junction with the Government Trail
along a dirt access road.
Follow this dirt road some yards up the hill to find the start of West Government Trail
, and take this trail heading west. After a short climb and descent, and then a wide traversing climb, you'll come to a junction of trails in an open meadow. Head uphill from here on the Cross Mountain Trail
Cross Mountain initially climbs through a section of dark timber forest that always seems to have at least a spot or two of mud and wet roots. Along this trail, you'll find some of the rockiest conditions of the ride as you cross nearly a dozen ski run meadows. Follow signs carefully after crossing the large wooden trestle bridge since you'll use a couple dirt access road to find your way to Village Bound
A big descent is now underway, but will be briefly interrupted when you make a left and rejoin West Government Trail
after your higher elevation time on Cross Mountain Trail
. West Government Trail
includes some seriously steep, old school style riding - be thankful if you have a dropper post! At bottom of this trail, make a sharp right to cruise downhill on the Ditch Trail
. The ditch is still managed and the trail has a wide road like feel at times.
At end of the Ditch Trail
, find your way on to the Sleigh Ride Trail
, which is a wide gravel path. A hundred yards later, drop left onto the Nature Trail
where you'll find a brief technical rocky moment or two. Another left onto the South Rim-Connector Trail
will lead you to your final major segment, the Rim Trail
. Between big views and high quality trail... some of the day's best riding is still ahead for you!