As soon as you reach the edge of town, where US 40 turns into more of a main street than a highway, signs proclaim Winter Park, Colorado, “Mountain Bike Capital USA.”
With more than 600-miles of well-marked and mapped mountain bike trails providing plenty of off-road challenge for even the fittest mountain bike riders, that claim may indeed be true.
Maybe the best part of riding in Winter Park is that once you pull into town you won’t need a car to access the majority of its trails.
First thing, pick up the chamber of commerce’s Guest Guide Publications Mountain Bike & Trail Guide Lite. It’s the perfect companion for a visiting singletrack fiend. It even has suggested ride routes that link loops on the mapped trails.
A four- to five-inch full-suspension bike is the ideal weapon for the rocky and root-filled trails around Winter Park and the adjacent Fraser Valley. More travel might be overkill, based on the amount of climbing to be had and the intermediate roughness of the majority of the trails. Also consider that you can cover up to 30 miles during each day’s outing, if desired.
The Tipperary Creek race course is a must do for the cross-country enthusiast and a perfect taste of what riding in the high country of Colorado is all about. The almost 26-mile course links the alpine meadows found on the Tipperary Creek Trail with local singletrack favorites like Flume, D2 and WTB. Be prepared for a hardy day in the saddle as the route encompasses over 4,000-feet of climbing.
After a couple days riding the cross-country trails crisscrossing Winter Park and Fraser Valley, you might head up to the Trestle Bike Park at Winter Park Resort to give your pedaling legs a rest and broaden your lift-served freeride horizons. The Trestle Bike Park is the host of Crankworx Colorado and quickly gaining clout as a destination bike park.
The Trestle staff is hard at work building new trails and at the beginning of the 2009 season the park boasted 32 miles of downhill trail with 150 terrain features served by two lifts. For those just dabbling in lift-served riding, equipment rentals, lessons and clinics are readily available at the mountain.
The out-of-town racer should check out the Winter Park Race Series found at epicsingletrack.com. What better way to test your mettle than to race on the valley’s singletrack?
Keep in mind that you’ll be riding at high elevations in a dry climate with the possibility of fast-moving afternoon storms, so sunscreen, rain gear and attention to proper hydration are paramount to making sure your rides are enjoyable.
If you go: Winter Park, Colorado
Must Do Trail: Tipperary Creek
Bike Shop: Totally Wired, 543 Zerex, Fraser
Map: Guest Guide Publications Mountain Bike & Trail Guide Lite -found free all over town
Java: Rocky Mountain Roasters, 78723 US 40
Fuel: Breakfast: Carver’s, 93 Cooper Creek Way; Dinner: Tabernash Tavern, US 40 Tabernash, Colorado
Pizza: Hernandos, US 40
Tacos: Mirasol, 78415 Park Place, US 40
Aprés Ride: Cheeky Monk, 130 Parry Peak Way
Riding Season: mid-June through October
Getting There: From Denver west on I-70 to US 40 over Berthoud Pass.
Lodging/Camping: Idlewild Campground, 1 mile south of Winter Park Resort on US 40
Alternative Activity: Winter Park Alpine Slide and activities; Hot Sulphur Springs
Tech Tip: Winter Park’s trails are comprised of good organic dirt and decomposed granite, it can get muddy, but the trails drain well; a moderately aggressive all-conditions tire is recommended.