Looking to grab your bike and hit some of that famous Colorado singletrack this fall? You’ll quickly discover that you’re not alone.
While the state’s most popular mountain bike trails have always been busy, Colorado’s surge in population growth (not to mention a COVID-fueled increase in outdoor activities) hasn’t helped matters much. As a result, many riders are disappointed when their fall scenery is characterized less by changing leaves, and more by full parking lots and overcrowded trails.
But a peaceful autumn ride isn’t completely out of reach. You just need to find the right trail. Here’s our list of five trails to help you enjoy the change of seasons and beat the crowds.
1. Doudy Draw; Boulder, CO
If you’ve spent any time in the Boulder area, you know the Flatirons are a must-see destination for hikers. To enjoy those same picturesque views from two wheels, head over to the Doudy Draw trail. The trail is rated intermediate, but it’s also filled with less-challenging sections that are great for newer riders. Take Doudy Draw to the Flatirons Vista for some epic mountain views without all the crowds, or create a loop using intersecting trails like Community Ditch, Spring Brook Loop North and Spring Brook Loop South.
2. Seedhouse Loop; Steamboat Springs, CO
Mountain bikers have long headed to Steamboat Springs for popular rides like The Divide Trail – a 26-mile mountaintop excursion. But venture further into North Routt National Forest and you just may be able to get some trails all to yourself. The Seedhouse trails are said to be a local secret, and the half-hour drive outside of town helps keep tourists away. Hit these backcountry trails and you’ll be rewarded with a variety of landscapes and views, from thick aspen forests to wide-open meadows. Just don’t forget the map and compass!
3. Palisade Plunge; Palisade, CO
Every mountain biker in Colorado has heard of Fruita. It’s quickly become a premier destination for riders thanks to its variety of trails, views of the Colorado River and awesome desert terrain. But nearby Palisade (about 20 miles east on the other side of Grand Junction) can offer similar benefits – and fewer tourists. If you’re eager for adventure, look no further than the Palisade Plunge. This 32-mile downhill trail recently opened in the fall of 2021. It starts at the top of the Grand Mesa National Forest, where it descends more than 5,000 feet into the town of Palisade. Palisade Plunge Cycle & Shuttle can provide a ride to the trailhead. When you’re finished riding, grab a change of clothes from your Fury bag and head to Palisade Brewing Company for a well-deserved beer.
4. Kebler Pass; Crested Butte, CO
Crested Butte is best known for classic trails like The 401 and Doctor Park. But if you want to take in the beauty of one of Colorado’s largest aspen stands without the crowds, check out Kebler Pass. For a leisurely ride, Kebler Wagon Trail allows you to follow the pass along the mountainside. If you’re hunting for a more technical trail, Dyke Trail can help fulfill your black-diamond desires. Either way, a fall ride at Crested Butte is worth adding to your to-do list.
5. Indian Creek Mountain Bike Trail System; Sedalia, CO
When mountain bikers list their top Colorado trails, Buffalo Creek (Pine, CO) often climbs to the top of the list. But if you’re seeking a less-trafficked route, nearby Indian Creek can provide a similar experience with a fraction of the visitors. This trail system is located near Roxborough State Park, just outside of Denver, and features a little bit of everything: winding singletrack, doubletrack, fast downhill sections and even a few rolling jumps. You’ll enjoy great autumn views while biking through the dense forest. Just be ready for some serious climbing.
Find Your Go-To Gear BagWhen packing for your next mountain bike ride, it helps to have all your gear in one place. The Ascentials Pro Vipr redefines the roll-top backpack by positioning the opening vertically for better packability and gear access. It quickly transforms from a backpack to a duffel and the dual T-16 aluminum compression buckles keep the contents tight and stable. With features like daisy chains for latching accessories and its durable, waterproof fabric, the Vipr is a multifunction gear hauler for the true adventurer. Use it to store everything from pads and a helmet to extra water and a change of clothes – so you’re always ready to hit the trails.