The Best Mountain Biking in Colorado – South Park Crest Trail
Colorado is a large state, the eighth largest in fact, and although many people have heard that fantastic mountain biking is offered in the area, it can be difficult to know just where to go in a state so big. Luckily, some of the best areas for mountain biking in Colorado are all located fairly close together, meaning that it is possible to spend a few days covering lots of ground but spending most of your time on the bike and not in the car. Much of this area is located within twenty to fifty miles west of Denver, where there are numerous wilderness areas and national forests. Mountain biking the South Park Crest Trail in this area provides some of the most spectacular scenery on offer.
The South Park Crest Trail can take anywhere between four and eight days, depending on how far you want to ride each day and how many detours you take. The trail takes you along three distinct mountain ranges in central Colorado, and offers spectacular views while doing so. The tracks themselves are for the most part alpine or subalpine single tracks, with the exception of some areas which capitalize on the presence of mining roads and forest service roads. While some parts of the trail are suitable for beginners, other areas require significantly more skill, and overall the trail is probably best suited to those with at least an intermediate skill and experience level. What’s more, some areas can be physically challenging, especially after a few days of riding, so make sure you’re in good shape before you try mountain biking the South Park Crest Trail. You want to have enough breath left so that it can be taken away by the spectacular scenery.
These trails are the perfect combination of exhilaration and relaxation. The rocky mining trails will test your concentration, the high passes will test your fitness and the fact that you will probably be riding for five days will test your endurance and strength. However, it’s not all hard work – the views are simply spectacular and the tranquillity second to none. Plus, there are some incredible places to stay along the way, if you would rather spend your evenings relaxing in style than huddled in your sleeping bag in the wilderness. However, that can be just as fun.
Another great thing about riding in this area is the history you will stumble upon. You may find yourself riding through several abandoned gold mining operations from the 1880s – why not stop and have a pan yourself? Who knows what you’ll find! If you follow the Gold Dust Trail into the village of Como, you are actually following the path that the miners themselves took during the gold mining boom in the late 1800s. Como was a railroad depot town that serviced both passengers and freight during the boom, and so little has changed in the town that it’s easy to imagine exactly what it would have been like during this time.
If you’re wondering when the best time is for mountain biking the South Park Crest Trail, it actually varies from season to season. The trails tend to close as soon as the first signs of snow appear, and they’re pretty much un-ridable after this time as the snow melt generates too much mud. Usually the trails open in April and are fit for use until late October. Any time between April and October will provide an incredible experience, though it can be best to avoid the two extremes – the tracks may still be wet and muddy in April, and the first signs of snow may appear in late October. May and September offer a spectacular riding experience and generally milder conditions, and can be less busy than if you opt to go during the middle of summer. However, these trails are surprisingly quiet, and even during peak tourist season you will be amazed by just how much of this slice of paradise you have all to yourself.