Trails & Travel -

Spotcheck | One For The Bucket List…Snowmass

Snowmass sounds pretty gnarly, but how come we haven’t heard of it? We love a good bike park as much as the next person, but one that hasn’t crossed out radar is this one. If you read on below, you’ll definitely be stamping this place firmly in your wishlist for the next big adventure.

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Snowmass is one of the newer bike parks around, but also one of the more classic ones. Yes, that’s a slight contradiction. But a good one, because it offers something for everyone.

They’ve actually been running the lifts and carrying bikes since 1996, but shifted from one side of the resort to another in 2010, when they started using the Elk Camp Gondola. They hosted a stop on the Mountain States Cup race scene for quite a few years, from 1999 to 2012, with NORBA National UCI races from 2005-2007. So, they’ve been in the game for a while, but did some rebranding a few years back and developed new trails. It’s cool that you can still ride some of the older trails, but it takes a little work to get to them.

They’re doing a good job of building some kick ass trails, they just need more. In my humble opinion, a 160mm trail bike is what you want to take when riding Snowmass. For a few reasons: The signature trail, Valhalla, is an awesome table top jump and flow type trail. But with Medium sized (in the overall bike park world) hits at it’s biggest. If you bring a DH bike, and you ride a lot, you might get bored, as the true DH type trails, the ones where you get off the lift and ride 100% downhill, are limited.

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But if you’re on a bike that you can pedal uphill, then you can gain access to all of the “classic” trails, the ones Snowmass labels as XC. But don’t let that fool you. These are tried and true, fun Colorado singletrack trails, and shouldn’t be missed. Things like “Government” and “Tom Blake” trails. Fun. Rough, rocky and rooty, but not mega high speed. Tight turns, very often awkward. NOT bike park.

You can also get to the loved “Banzai” DH course, the one used years ago in the Mt States Cup days. Mix up some old school gnar with some front side bike park, and you have a pretty good day of lift served mt biking.

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And speaking of bike park, if you want it, it’s here. Gravity Logic did a lot of the design and layout work for the new trails at Snowmass, and it shows. Flawless execution of the blue and black run.

“Viking” and “Valhalla” are a blast. “Verde” is a great beginner trail. And “Vapor”, from the very top, is super fun. The park crew has done some much needed minor reroutes of “Vapor”, so as to avoid some constantly soggy areas. Wow, it you want stunning scenery, from the top of the mountain, and some bitchin photo ops, then definitely get to top and ride “Vapor” with you photographer friends.

A few things to know about Snowmass. This is the land of festivals and all kinds of happenings. Pros and cons about that. There is ALWAYS something to do for other members of the family, if they’re not riders. But it can also be a busy place on the weekends. Go mid week with a buddy, and you’ll probably have the place to yourself. The Elk Camp Restaurant at the top of the Gondola has maybe the best ski resort/bike park top of mountain food I’ve ever had. It’s not cheap, but it is excellent. The salad bar is completely kick ass. Fresh, organic, healthy. Awesome.

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I tried to get info about new trails and future plans for more riding, but lips were sealed, so for the time being, we’ll just have to enjoy what they have. There is a ridiculous amount of riding in the entire Roaring Fork, Aspen/Snowmass valley, so again, if you bring a bike that you can pedal, buy a lift ticket one day and have fun in the park, then maybe explore other areas closer to Aspen, and enjoy an apres beer downtown with all the pretty people. And believe me, they’re in Aspen. Have fun!

More info can be found at:

Words: Daniel Dunn Photos: Snowmass PR