Aspen to Snowmass and back on mountain bikes

I’ve been thinking about this ride for over a year now. During my last year’s visit to Aspen I had grand aspirations of epic mountain bike rides, but in the end I ended up bouldering every chance I got. Our plans this year have been partially foiled by incredibly foul weather, but this past saturday we finally managed to rent some sweet bikes and head out of town. The ride took us out of Aspen up the aptly named Radar Road above the airport, to an amazing little ridge trail on Skyline ridge. The perfectly smooth singletrack was made a little spicier with some steep climbs, but the descent down the awesome switchbacks on the Viewline trail was amazing: dusty, twisty, fast, singletrack bliss!

We had grand ambitions of squeezing in another trail, the Rim trail, before heading to the main event — the unfortunately-named Government trail that connects Snowmass to Aspen. As soon as we started dropping down toward Snowmass however, the skies darkened and we could see numerous thunderstorms in the distance. The Rim trail would have had us riding on a ridge for 8 miles, so we decided against it… instead we hoped to evade a downpour in Snowmass village proper and dropped down to the road. A lunch, a rainshower, and some navigational issues later, we were heading up the Wood road on the edge of the Snowmass ski area, through some ridiculous holiday home neighborhoods and finally, up to the beginning of the famed Government trail.

The first sections were a little rocky, but we found them just hard enough to be fun. The trail really deserves its classic status, taking you through lush aspen groves, creeks, fields of wildflowers and beautiful forests on perfect singletrack almost the entire way. The final descent through the Buttermilk is incredible! Fast, steep, windy and rooty it keeps you behind your saddle surrounded by tall grass and trees that sometimes come very close to the handlebars… An awesome day in the hills!

As an aside: I’ve gotta say that the new MTBProject site (an offshoot of mountainproject.com) is awesome! Best of all, you can download the free maps to your phone and use them offline… very very cool. Go check it out.

Molly wished that one of the many private jets at Aspen airport would whisk her off to the top of the hill… 
Finally tasting the famous Colorado singletrack!

beautiful ridge and endless trail in front of us

all smiles… 🙂 (if you look close you can see the rain showers in the background)

Descending the Viewline trail through wild sage brush

the start of the Government Trail!
awesome curvy singletrack through aspen groves… (rare shot of me — thanks Molly!)

more aspen groves…

pretty wildflowers

battle wounds

dreamy trail

tough legs and fragile flowers

Molly coming out of one of the fun sections on the Buttermilk side

beautiful wild grasses everywhere… and Molly ripping it up!
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