Smuggler-Hunter-VanHorn-Hobbit-Secret-Sunnyside Loop Ride

 18 votes
Building Map
Loading Map Data
Map Settings
Featured Ride
Trail

18.5 Miles 29.7 Kilometers


60%

Singletrack

3,175' 968 m

Ascent

-3,203' -976 m

Descent

10,075' 3,071 m

High

7,712' 2,351 m

Low

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

37%

Max Grade (20°)

Unknown

Update

A grand tour combining many of Aspen's best backyard singletrack trails.

Mike Pritchard

Overview

This long ride provides plenty of climbing and plenty of descending through open meadows, dark timber forests, aspen groves, and red rock shrub oak. Much of the climbing takes place on dirt roads, but nearly all of the descending takes place on high quality singletrack. Much of the riding is intermediate level, although the the epic conclusion - the Sunnyside trail - should be considered difficult (at least) given sections where the narrow trail traverses extremely steep terrain, and rocky and rooted sections demand your fullest attention.

Need To Know

This is a big ride that allows for true backcountry experiences. If unfamiliar with the area, be sure to bring a map or the MTB Project mobile app. Cell phone service disappears at the farthest reaches. There are many options along this route to add mileage, or to cut the ride short and coast back down to Aspen.

Description

Start at the base of Smuggler Mt. Road. Climb up the road to the Smuggler Observation Deck where you'll find an information kiosk and map. At this point you could increase the ride length by continuing on BTS, Tootsie Roll, Lollipop, and Iowa Shaft trails. Main route continues to the left on the Hunter Creek Cutoff trail, which will take you all the way to the Hunter Creek Trail on the HC valley floor. (Note that this Cutoff trail requires a left hand turn towards the end, to avoid continuing on the Hunter Valley North trail.)

Make a right on the HC trail, and follow it for several hundred yards before making left to cross over the 10th Mountain Bridge. After crossing the Hunter Creek via the bridge, this route takes the trail to the left, which connects to the Parking area at the WRNF boundry. (This parking area is signed for handicap and senior parking only, and is not typically used by mountain bikers.) You could optionally take the trail to the right, and then take a left on the Hunter Valley North trail, this will get you back on the same route.

From the Parking area, start climbing Red Mountain Rd., this 4wd dirt road climbs up to the 4 Corners and Van Horn Park areas, and beyond. It's steep on occasion, and shade is very limited during middle of the day, so make sure to have plenty of water. During this climb, you'll pass by trailheads for Upper Plunge (on the left), and Lower Plunge (on the right). These are signed by the WRNF as "Sunnyside" trail, but that is somewhat confusing as you won't really get to Sunnyside trail proper until much later.

Still climbing, you'll encounter a fork in the jeep road. Left continues up to 4 Corners. This route goes right towards Van Horn Park. After the fork you'll pass through a flat meadow for a couple hundred yards. At the end of the meadow, the road continues steeply up to Van Horn Park. This route leaves the road, and makes a right to follow the Hunter Creek (Overlook) trail. A short climb will break you out to a steep hill side that offers sweeping views of the Hunter Creek valley below. Watch out for a technical rock feature at this point. The singletrack continues traversing and climbing this hillside, eventually opening to a meadow on the backside of Van Horn Park. When the singletrack ends, make a left on the old jeep road to continue this route. (The road to the right continues for quite a distance to the Wilderness boundary - save that exploration for another day.)

A gentle climb on the jeep road will bring you to a four way intersection that's considered the center of Van Horn Park. From here, this route will make a right to find the Hobbit trail. You could continue straight and descend back down to Red Mt. Rd. if you need a quick exit for thunderstorms. You could also make a left and climb up a quarter mile to experience big views from VHP's high point.

You'll find the signed Hobbit trail within a hundred yards of the four way intersection. A gruelingly steep climb through aspen trees will get you to a high point where the real fun begins! From here it's a super sweet descent to 4 Corners, with a few short ups along the way.

At 4 Corners, find the direction that will take you towards Red Mt. and the FAA antennae structure. A hundred yards later, make a left onto the signed Secret Trail.

Secret trail briefly coincides with Upper Plunge. Make a right, then a left to continue on Secret trail. This segment is also called Jedi trail. Rolling terrain and excellent descending takes you to the Sunnyside trail.

Make a left onto Sunnyside trail. A bit more climbing will take you onto a big traverse of the face of Red Mountain. This is one of the best trails in the area, but keep in mind it's expert level rating.

A very long descent, fast and smooth at times, slow and technical at others, with one paved road crossing (Careful!) will deposit you down to the paved Rio Grande trail. Make a left to get back to Aspen.

Contacts

Rate Featured Ride


   Clear

4.4 from 18 votes


Get On-Trail Navigation

Send to Phone
Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Sep 25, 2016
Jim Neu
A fall classic! Ride the Hummingbird Trail up from the Hunter Creek Valley floor for more singletrack.
Sep 18, 2016
Spencer Ci
Sep 10, 2016
brian milnick
Aug 21, 2016
Mike Fain
18.5mi — 3h 15m
Mar 12, 2016
Molly Brown
Oct 10, 2015
Cameron Barton
Aug 22, 2015
Matt Sparks
Sep 8, 2013
Fabrizio Giorgetta
rode shadyside

Stewarded By


Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 18 votes

#1

in Aspen

#92

Overall
  4.4 from 18 votes
1 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
3 Star
11%
4 Star
33%
5 Star
56%
Rankings

#1

in Aspen

#21

in Colorado

#92

Overall
42 Views Last Month
4,437 Since Jun 8, 2013
Difficult Difficult

0%
0%
0%
44%
56%
0%

Conditions



Great ride. A couple of thoughts on this one: Not sure if the Hummingbird Trail was built at the time of this write up but riding the Hunter Creek trail and ascending Hummingbird is more fun then grinding out Red Mountain road. As far as any confusion at 4 corners (after the Hobbit trail) continue straight, past the trail sign, on the road for about 50 yards and hang a left onto Secret Trail. In other words stay on the road that follows the ridge line then hang a left to Secret trail. Don't go down in either direction. Mike's description of following 4 corners towards Red Mountain is accurate as can be. My parting thought after a few rides on this loop (including Hummingbird) is that there are a couple punchy climbs in the Hobbit> Secret> Jedi> Sunnyside portion of the ride. Don't be surprised as you will be climbing almost all the way to the last blast decent of Sunnyside. Save some gas in your tank for the top of the hill. With the Hummingbird addition to this ride my GPS read: 19.5 miles, 3,182 vertical feet climbing. Aug 20, 2016


Not meaning to be critical here but Mike's description states, clearly, to head towards Secret Trail in the direction of Red Mountain. Going down towards Lenado on Tinpot is obviously not the right direction to get to Sunnyside. Aug 20, 2016


Jay Bird I agree with you now that ive done this trail. For first time users I still believe it should be more descriptive. "At 4 Corners, find the direction that will take you towards Red Mt. and the FAA antennae structure. A hundred yards later, make a left onto the signed Secret Trail." It would be easier to say, " when looking at the sign at 4 corners take a left." There's plenty of people who don't know which way red mountain is in the middle of the forrest. Aug 24, 2016


MTB Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Mountain Bike

MTB Project is supported by

Support Your Local IMBA Chapter