Thousands of miles of singletrack trails and fantastic scenery. That’s what makes Colorado (arguably) the ultimate mountain biking destination in the United States. Furthermore, Colorado mountain bike trails have a great mix of technical terrain, high alpine treks, and extreme downhill parks. And yet, there are still plenty of gentle routes for beginners to practice on. So, here are our picks for some of the must-ride trails throughout Colorado.
The Top Mountain Bike Trails in Colorado
18 Road Trails – Fruita
In western Colorado, near the Utah border, you’ll find the town of Fruita. This quaint outdoor destination is a true mountain biker’s paradise. In fact, Fruita is surrounded by hundreds of miles of superb mountain bike trails. This area is always mentioned as one of the best mountain biking spots in Colorado. The twisty desert singletrack includes technical challenges, as well as stretches of calm, level riding.
On the other hand, the 18 Road Trails are great for all ages and abilities. They’re made up of fun, flowy trails along the ridgelines of the Book Cliffs. This is the classic trail system that put Fruita on the premiere mountain biking destination map. Plus, there are plenty of nearby camping options where you can make your base camp. In the mornings, you can cruise to the trails straight from your campground.
Emerald Mountain – Steamboat Springs
Located 160 miles west of Denver, Steamboat Springs lies in the Yampa River Valley. The entire area is surrounded by aspen-draped mountains, providing endless views for riders. Yet, the Emerald Mountain trail system is still just a quick jaunt from the center of town. Many mountain bikers hail this as one of the best singletrack routes in the state.
Above all, Steamboat Springs is known for its smooth, flowy trails through aspen groves and wildflower-filled meadows. Moreover, the greater Emerald Mountain area features a dense network of trails to choose from. As a result, you can easily loop together several trails to make your own unique route.
The Colorado Trail – Silverton to Durango
The 486-mile Colorado Trail starts just outside of Denver and continues southwest to Durango. It’s widely considered the crown jewel of mountain biking trails in Colorado. Riders can try to traverse the entire trail or tick off a few segments at a time.
The most popular trail section runs from Silverton to Durango in the San Juan Mountains. This 80-mile section of trail is incredibly scenic and traverses several high-altitude mountain passes. Several bike shuttle options are available including the historic Durango to Silverton narrow-gauge train.
Trail 401 – Crested Butte
Known as one of the birthplaces of mountain biking, Crested Butte is an old mining town turned outdoor recreation mecca. Trail 401 is one of the town’s most popular rides. Featuring gentle climbs and non-technical, flowy singletrack with endless views of Colorado’s Elk Range. Plus, there are plenty of advanced trails in the area for more experienced riders. Especially the steep climbs and technical descents found on routes like Doctor Park and the Teocalli Trail.
The Monarch Crest Trail – Salida
When it comes to high-alpine singletrack and gorgeous scenery, the Monarch Crest Trail can’t be beaten. Starting from the trailhead just off of Highway 50 at Monarch Pass, the Monarch Crest Trail stretches for 36.2 miles across some of Colorado’s most rugged and scenic terrain. Several outfitters in Salida offer bike shuttles, which conveniently drop you right at the trailhead.
Buffalo Creek – Pine
Finally, for great riding outside of Denver, visit the Buffalo Creek National Recreation Area. This huge network of interconnected trails is perfect for intermediate to advanced riders. The trails are well marked and covered in steep climbs and descents. That said, there’s also a large number of smooth, non-technical trails throughout. As a reminder, this area is still recovering from a massive wildfire in 1996. Regardless, visitors will still enjoy wide, expansive views of the surrounding mountains.