Exploring Colorado’s Scenic Bike Trails


Colorado is renowned worldwide for its incredible mountain scenery, rugged wilderness areas, and abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities, including its Colorado bike trails. For cycling enthusiasts, the state offers unmatched diversity in bike trails winding through pine forests, over mountain passes, and past alpine lakes. From family-friendly routes to extreme downhill trails, Colorado has something to satisfy riders of all ages and skill levels.

This article provides an in-depth guide to experiencing the best of Colorado’s iconic bike trails. We’ll cover everything from trail types and difficulty ratings to trip planning basics, safety tips, and ways to get involved in Colorado’s vibrant cycling community. Whether you’re a hardcore mountain biker or just looking for a scenic pedal through the Rockies, this is your guide to a two-wheeled adventure in the Centennial State.


  • Colorado has over 30,000 miles of bike trails ranging from easy, paved paths to extreme downhill routes.
  • Trail difficulty ratings help match routes on a trail map to rider ability, from green circle family trails to double black diamond expert runs.
  • Safety basics like carrying supplies, checking conditions, and being visible are key when mountain biking in Colorado.
  • Colorado's cycling culture includes races and events like the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and festivals like Cruiser Ride for community involvement.

Destination Overview: Colorado Bike Trails

Colorado is a mountain biker’s nirvana with the highest concentration of trails in the US. Visitors from across the globe flock to world-famous destinations like Crested Butte and Winter Park, as well as iconic routes like the 401 Trail that traverse high alpine basins with panoramic vistas.

In addition to lift-served bike parks at ski resorts, Colorado offers a wealth of scenic backcountry trails and networks like the Colorado Trail, stretching 500 miles from Denver to Durango. Riders also enjoy an abundance of flowy singletrack winding through pine forests, as well as adrenaline-pumping downhill runs. Colorado Springs offers over 100+ miles of trails for walking and biking. With over 30,000 miles of trails, Colorado delivers an unbeatable variety of mountain biking experiences.

Local Experiences and Culture: Colorado Bike Trails

Beyond the trails themselves, Colorado offers a vibrant mountain bike culture seen in local events and bike-friendly communities statewide.

Destinations like Fruita pride themselves on their cycling roots, with festivals like Fat Tire Week offering races, group rides, movies, and more. Other events like the cruiser-friendly Tour de Fat festival in Denver and Durango blend cycling with music and beer. From small towns like Crested Butte to major cities like Denver, local shops organize group rides welcoming riders of all abilities to join the two-wheeled fun.

Colorado also inspires innovation, which is evident in bike parks specifically designed for progression and skills development. Riders can session features dialed to their exact ability level at parks like the Breckenridge Skills Park and Golden Bike Park before moving to the next level. These progression-based parks create welcoming, non-intimidating spaces for new riders to gain confidence on two wheels.

Trail Diversity and Difficulty: Colorado Bike Trails

With endless miles of trails traversing Colorado’s epic mountain landscapes, one of the biggest questions riders face is where to ride based on their ability level and experience. Thankfully, most trails follow a standard rating system, from green circles to double black diamonds, so riders can quickly assess the difficulty.

Green circle trails offer smooth, wide paths, often paved or gravel, and grades less than 5%, making them ideal for families and newer riders. Blue square trails add narrower singletrack, steeper grades of around 10%, and small obstacles like roots and rocks. Black diamond trails ratchet up the technical challenge with uneven terrain, steep pitches of over 15%, and bigger obstacles requiring intermediate skills. Finally, double black diamond trails push expert riders with highly technical, dangerous terrain where crashing is very likely.

While ratings help narrow options, Colorado still offers exceptional diversity, from relaxing cruiser paths like the Cherry Creek Trail to the legendary Captain Ahab trail demanding advanced skills. Whether you seek adrenaline-pumping vertical or just a peaceful pedal surrounded by nature, Colorado delivers the perfect trail for every rider.

Trail Conservation and Etiquette: Colorado Bike Trails

With growing numbers of cyclists flocking to Colorado’s trails, conservation and proper etiquette are crucial to ensure these precious resources endure. As avid trail users, cyclists must educate themselves and follow guidelines to reduce impact through actions like staying on designated routes, braking carefully to limit erosion, yielding to other trail users, and packing out all trash.

Many local groups like the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association and Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates organize volunteer days performing vital trail maintenance and construction projects that keep routes accessible. Cyclists can also donate to non-profits like COPMOBA, supporting sustainable trail access through funding, education, and stewardship programs.

Following proper etiquette like yielding to uphill and equestrian traffic, warning hikers before passing, and being self-sufficient with supplies makes the experience better for all. With conscientious action from cyclists, Colorado’s treasured trails will endure for generations.

Planning Your Trip: Colorado Bike Trails

One of the keys to an epic cycling adventure in Colorado is smart trip planning and preparation. With over 30,000 miles of trails blanketing the state, the first task is narrowing options. Excellent resources like MTBProject.com offer detailed trail map resources, reviews, and filters to zone in on areas matching your ability and interests. Local bike shops also provide invaluable first-hand advice on trails and conditions.

It’s also essential to consider seasonal factors when choosing your destination. While summer offers long days and warm temperatures perfect for backcountry rides, fall provides stunning scenery and fewer crowds. Seek out high-altitude areas like Summit County in summer and lower elevations like Grand Junction in spring and fall when passes remain buried in snow.

Here are a few other mountain biking trails in Colorado:

  • Rio Grande Trail
  • Monarch Crest Trail
  • Arkansas River Trail (paved)
  • Colorado Riverfront Trail
  • Peaks to Plains Trail
  • Midland Bike Trail
  • Cherry Creek Regional Trail

Smaller trails:

  • Animas River Trail
  • Sinton Trail
  • Big Dry Creek Trail

No matter when you go, come prepared with backup supplies for changing mountain conditions, study trail maps in advance, and gear up with a rental mountain bike from local shops if you fly in. Follow these tips, and your Colorado bike trip will undoubtedly deliver miles of memories.

Safety and Accessibility: Colorado Bike Trails

While Colorado’s trails offer endless adventure, riders must educate themselves on risks and follow key safety precautions. Altitude sickness, exhaustion, changing weather, wildlife encounters, and riding beyond one’s ability top the list of hazards. Packing first aid and navigation gear, wearing helmets, studying terrain before attempting technical trails, and knowing personal limits vastly improve safety.

Seeking instruction from qualified guides also enhances skills and prevents accidents. Lessons tailored to various abilities help build proficiency at dedicated skills parks or on real backcountry trails. Riders should select guides certified through programs like the Professional Mountain Bike Instructors Association to ensure proper credentials.

Accessibility for adaptive cyclists continues improving with trails like the accessible Greenwood Village Mountain Bike Trail specifically designed for handcycles and other adaptive bikes. Various non-profits also offer adaptive cycling programs, including Vail Veterans Program providing lessons for injured military members. While challenging trails still limit options, resources continue to grow so more cyclists can experience Colorado’s magnificent backcountry.

Community and Events: Colorado Bike Trails

Beyond the trails, Colorado offers an exceptionally vibrant cycling community, which is evident in various regional and statewide events. Signature races like the legendary Iron Horse Bicycle Classic pit riders against the steep, high-altitude terrain between Durango and Silverton. First held in 1972, this 50-mile challenge now draws over 2,500 racers and thousands more spectators annually.

In addition to races, Colorado hosts various festivals welcoming all cycling abilities, such as the cruiser-centric Tour de Fat festivals held in Denver and Fort Collins each summer. Costume-clad riders decorate bikes and tap beers at finish line parties celebrating Colorado’s exceptional beer and bike culture. For family participation, events like the non-competitive Courage Classic fundraiser offer trail rides across ability levels in the Vail Valley, supporting Children’s Hospital Colorado.

From hardcore racing to fun festivals, Colorado delivers events where anyone can join the cycling community and discover new routes traveling sublime mountain scenery. These annual gatherings prove two-wheeled adventure abounds across the Centennial State.

Reviews and Recommendations: Colorado Bike Trails

With endless options spanning easy valley cruises to extreme alpine epics, Colorado’s wealth of trails can overwhelm even seasoned riders. These top-rated routes provide a sample of the state’s premier cycling alongside a few local hidden gems.

Most Popular

  • 401 Trail: Iconic Crested Butte epic with huge vistas (25 miles, Black Diamond).
  • Buffalo Creek: Top-notch Front Range singletrack near Denver (Blue/Black Diamond).

Local Favorites

  • Maryland Mountain: Lesser-known advanced descent minutes from I-70 (4 miles, Double Black Diamond).
  • Big Dry Creek Trail: Beginner-friendly route through Westminster open space with options to extend (5 miles, Green/Blue Circle).

Best Bike Parks

  • Trestle Bike Park: Iconic Winter Park bike park with progression options for all abilities (Lift-Served, All Levels).
  • Keystone Bike Park: Massive park with downhill trails and two skill areas for honing techniques (Lift-Served, All Levels).

Whether you seek epic singletrack or skills progression, Colorado delivers exceptional mountain biking certain to create unforgettable two-wheeled memories. Discover your own favorite routes traveling the sublime high-altitude landscape of the Centennial State.


What are the top family-friendly bike trails in Colorado?

Some of the top-rated family trails include the paved Cherry Creek Trail in Denver, Vail Pass Rec Path near Vail, and the Colorado Riverfront Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Many ski resorts also offer beginner lift-served trails in their bike parks.

Where can I find a bike trail map in Colorado?

Great resources for bike trail maps include MTBProject.com, TrailForks, individual ski resort and town websites, and local bike shops. Hard-copy maps are also sold in outdoor gear stores and visitor centers statewide.

When is the best time to bike in Colorado?

While Colorado offers great mountain biking from spring through fall, the peak season spans July through September when most high alpine trails are snow-free. Late summer also brings colorful changing aspens to enhance scenic rides.


About the author

Shannon Persad

As a seasoned journalist and Colorado native, I bring a deep-rooted connection and comprehensive understanding of Colorado to my work at ReadyColorado.com. My appreciation for the state’s rich history, vibrant culture, and pressing environmental issues drives my commitment to exploring its evolving landscape—from the bustling urban centers to the tranquil mountain towns.