By Rob Quinn
Some assignments are tougher than others. Work in the beer tent at the end of the badass “Epic Day” the RTR riders did from Salida to Snowmass. Up and over Independence. The granddaddy of them all. Serving up a delicious variety of Eddyline products including of all things The Epic Day Double IPA. Sales were brisk.
But this IS the Dirt Journal right? So the 1st order of the day was assaulting the 24 mile linked trail system known now as The Snowmass Loop on the Mountain Bike. This is one of my favorite rides for a few reasons. First, it’s got it all. Climbing (right almost 4K total ), awesome views (North Rim trail has a dedicated selfie spot!), a little locals flair…it cuts right next to the Snowmass Rec Center pool…which is at no loss for people that take their exercise and tanning seriously. I sucked it in when I road past.
The “Loop” literally is a full loop around the Snowmass Valley that can be ridden clockwise or counter clockwise. I prefer to start in the Snowmass upper village where public parking is free and plentiful. This is a good 3 hour ride so bring plenty of everything and depending on the time of the year…count on PM storms. I went at 8 AM and it was perfect.
From the parking lot head northwest to the start of the South Rim trail. You are on the Loop! The Rim trail is the striking giant hogback (reminds me of Fruita) like spine that cascades down valley. Once up on top it’s a flow pigs paradise. The miles fly by like nothing. A quick transition down to North Rim trail and more of the same.
Keep your eyes open, many people park mid valley at the Rec Center and climb up the opposite way. The trail finally turns into pavement for a few miles and you pass The Snowmass Rec Center with the previously mentioned tan tummy club. If that don’t give you mid ride motivation to press on nothing else will.
Proceed down valley, after a brief time on the paved bike path it’s time to cross over and enter the Deadline / Highline trail system. Your next link to the loop. This can best be described as a nice twisting climb in Oak scrub giving this link a Gunnison high desert feel to it.
The trail winds you eventually up to the turn off to the Tom Blake trail head and parking area. Tom Blake is an iconic Snowmass trail that is nicely included in the loop. There is a rest room there to use before the start of what is an epic climb back to Upper base Village. Linking Tom Blake to Powerline onto W Govt trail.
It’s some of the best single track in the area. Steep yet consistent…you know you are making some vert but it’s 100% ridable with zero dabs or dismounts for yours truly. The flora begins to change leaving the scrub below you and entering into old growth hardwoods, huge Aspen stands and giant pines. Nirvana is more than a bands name.
I’ll provide a map and trails names in order list at the end of the article, but here is where it gets tricky. You’ll need to dash your instincts to auger into the new and sexy-ed up Snowmass Village. Your work is not done yet. Press on.
Now we grind up the ski hill on the main access road up to the trail stash on the north side of the hill. Not riding this would be like missing dessert. Once up, keep your eyes peeled and follow the trail link sequence at the end of this article or consult the link this will give you access to a great finish of new and old trails linked to give you maximum exposure and fun. There was still snow on the hill so the route I rode was improvised and not exactly like the map. Everything will be 100% clear soon.
NOW you can go into the Upper Village and enjoy the spoils of your effort. A quick change of clothes in the parking lot, then I suggest a cool happy hour at Venga Venga in the Upper Village. The perfect place to gather and talk story with your tribe while the sun sets on yet another perfect Snowmass day.
The base village at Snowmass is undergoing a massive remodel and it will really change the complexion of the area. Room rates in the summer are very reasonable and Snowmass does not have Aspen prices on food and beverage. A great value considering your location.
Check out what’s going on at www.gosnowmass.com
I highly recommend catching the summer flu on a Thursday when The Town of Snowmass puts on their free concerts on the hill.
World class entertainment for free with a bunch of Aspen locals. What’s not to like?
Later that day I made my way to The Rec Center park and worked the beer tent handing Eddyline Crank Yanker IPA’s and such to the exhausted riders who had a brisk headwind 100% of the way and a little climb called Independence Pass. An incredible cross section of America and actually the world comes out for Ride The Rockies…so the conversations were fantastic with the riders looking forward to a rest day in Carbondale after a few big days behind them.
Their tales of hauling ass down Independence Pass got MY inner roadie out of the closet…I informed my crew that I’ll be riding up Independence on my road bike, would they be good enough to meet me at the Silver Dollar in Leadville? Now that’s inspiration AKA the last ten pounds.
Put Snowmass on your summer to do list and ride the loop …what the heck…Throw the road bike on the rack also. People will think you are bilingual…or is that Bike lingual?
Trail sequence from The Rec Center parking lot:
Ditch Trail-Viewline-Deadline-Highline-Tom Blake-Powerline-W Govt-Ditch Trail-Sleigh Ride Trail-Nature Trail-South Rim-North Rim.
Rob Quinn Mountain Bike Bio
Rob grew up the son of a sporting good retailer in scenic La Crosse, WI where he grew up “skiing, riding bikes, waterskiing, and exploring the Mississippi river”. His love for cycling and the outdoors continued past College graduation to his migration west where Quinn’s basically been on a mountain bike in one form or another since 1985.
He promoted the first Mountain bike race in Mexico in 1989, The Montana Grande series that went on for over a decade, raced and finished every major endurance mountain biking event in the west (he describes himself as a solid mid pack finisher) over the years including 3 La Ruta De Los Conquistadores. He’s promoted Mountain biking events in Colorado, worked in the industry as a national sales manager, coached for 7 years in the Colorado High School Cycling League and now runs an advertising agency with…you guessed it…a few cycling clients.
He’s seen the industry and sport evolve and his stoke is as genuine as day one. In DIRT JOURNAL, Quinn will explore all facets of the fat tire scene from travel articles, event and equipment revues and off camber interviews with Mountain Biking’s industry insiders. If you are interested in an off kilter look at the Fat Tire world, DIRT JOURNAL is for you.