The foliage was beaming last weekend all throughout the high country in Colorado. My guess is this weekend may be as close to the peak as possible, especially if the many swaths of half-gold, half-green aspens have turned. If you find yourself in the Aspen area anytime over the next several weeks before the snow flies, do yourself a favor and spend a little time on Smuggler’s Mountain. Not only is it a great place to take in the fall colors, it’s also a great place to go for hike, and it’s an especially prime spot for some amazing mountain biking.
If you show up and have your gear all dialed just head straight out to Smuggler’s Mountain Road and get after it. If you need anything at all to make your ride happen you definitely want to head over to the Aspen Velo Bike Shop, which is conveniently located on your way to Smuggler’s Mountain Road. Mike or Matt will get you dialed with whatever you need, and the Santa Cruz bikes they have to offer are top of the line ensuring you’ll have the best tools you can to ride with style.
Smuggler’s Mountain Road is home to numerous mountain biking and hiking trails, all set directly across the valley from the Aspen Ski Resort (AJAX). It’s also a great place to test Brian’s article on the cougar’s of Telluride and Aspen. I’ve only spent a little time in both places, but I’d have to say, with Jillian backing me up ten-fold, Aspen wins, 100%. It was hard to not get lost in the golden beauty of the changing trees as we ascended the steep uptrack to get to the singletracks of Smuggler’s Mountain, but there were several ladies that passed us on the down that caused us to both do double-takes, several times, asking ourselves, “was she 30 or 50?,” and “were those real?”
In any case, once you make your way to the observation tower after huffing and puffing on the steep up, the trail network is sick and anyone that gets down on a mountain bike will be completely stoked to spend some time up here. We choose to hit up the newly carved Lollipop and Tootsie Roll trails before running our ride out to the locally regarded classic ride know as the Hunter Creek Loop.
All of the trails we hit were fabulous. You can get more info searching a bit online or hit up the guys at the Velo bike shop for more specific beta. Once you make it up the steep uptrack to access the trail network the singletracks are tight, fast, and ridiculously fun. Some sections of trails have log jumps to ollie over, some had skinny board sections to cross over muddy spots, and some sections, like the Hunter Creek Loop, had rock gardens that stretched well over 100 yards. You get all the work out of the way in the beginning, and then you get to cruise high-quality single and doubletrack all the way back out to the bottom of the valley. Add in the current foliage to gape at and there you have a perfect accessible way to spend a few hours in the Aspen area before trying to fit in with all the elites at the bustling bar scene later that evening.