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Cycle / July 15, 2016

Colorado Mountain Bike Road Trip

Written by: Roxanne Trujillo

I have the BEST news! But I’m not sure you’ll be able to contain yourself. Here it is… IT’S MOUNTAIN BIKE SEASON! Drop all your responsibilities, grab your bike and go ride!

It’s that time of year, where the bittersweet love of the mountain bike oozes out of every pore and leaves a trail. That feeling being the desire to never want to get off your bike. Your thoughts become consumed with wanting to travel around the country and forget you have responsibilities. The relief from life’s troubles, the freedom, adrenaline, smiles, and playfulness a bike offers that is so addicting.

I associate summer with bikes, trails and road trips. My mountain bike is an escape when I am stressed and even when things are good in life. Basically Utopia friends. That’s what I’m getting at. Summer mountain bike riding is Utopia.

Colorado has endless terrain when it comes to mountain bike riding. A road trip around Colorado can be from a weekend trip to an entire summer trip. If I were to map out my perfect “Lose Your Mind” mountain bike road trip in the state of CO it would go something like this:



Ride: Hermosa Creek Trail. 19 miles of great trail. You will drop down into a steep canyon following along a river. Towards the end you will be faced with two steep climbs that will earn you your dinner. The trail offers the feeling of being far from society allowing you to connect with nature and remember why your bike runs your life. It’s a point-to-point trail, giving you the option to shuttle.

Eat: Breakfast at College Drive Cafe. It’s a hidden gem off the beaten path. Breakfast dining is my favorite, and seeking out a cafe that will blow my taste buds is a must. College Drive Cafe will do just that. You might have trouble choosing from the menu, so just go ahead and order it all then ride off the calories. You’ll be fine.

Sleep: Little Molas Lake. A little closer to Silvertone, 5 miles outside of it. If you want to pitch a tent in a place that will blow you away, go here. This beauty is labeled as the “Most Scenic Campground in Colorado”.

Do: Check out an enormous bike shop called Second Avenue Sports, you might be in there a while, so grab a coffee from Steaming Bean or just go ahead and get a shot of whiskey. I highly recommend taking the drive into Silverton as it is one of the best in Colorado.


Little Molas Lake offers of the most amazing views.

Kennebec Pass above Durango is one of the top descents in Colorado.

Colorado Trail above Little Molas Lake.

College Cafe, a Durango classic.

Penitente Canyon: Originally known for it’s outrageous rock climbing terrain, this area has recently been catering to the mountain bike scene with some wicked trail building.

Ride: ⬧ Sunshine Kitty (which I renamed “naughty kitty”) to Rock Drops to Blue Loops. It’s a new trail system and does not yet exist on any of Penitente’s maps. Several trail map apps have been updated with these trails. These are expert trails. Sunshine Kitty is one of the most difficult climbs I have done to date. It is a steep climb that will have you going over slickrock and up huge boulders that require a lot of power and proper positioning.

Eat: At The Dining Room inside the Windsor Hotel in Del Norte. Established in 1874 and has a Victorian classic decor.

Sleep: In your favorite tent with all your friends! Well, all your friends can sleep in their own tent. Campgrounds are at the trailheads with designated sites, pit toilets and garbage cans.

Do: Admire the view of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, and be sure to swing by the Sand Dunes as you are not too far away.


Photo by Ben Knight

Photo by Ben Knight

Photo by Ben Knight

Windsor Hotel in the heart of Del Norte.


RideNorth Backbone: This is not a beginner trail, more for an advanced intermediate to expert rider. The trail system is a tight trail with big rocks. It will keep you on your toes with plenty of little techy spots and powerful moves that roller coasters through junipers and pinons. Exposed edges and big loose rocks throughout.

Rainbow Trail : A classic for this area. This ride will make you love and hate mountain biking all at once. You will yip and hollar throughout, and be amazed by the view. With every descent expect a steep, yet short ascent.

Eat: The Fritz : Don’t be scared off by a bald man that has a name beginning with G. He really is the coolest dude. As is all the other staff and people you are going to encounter at the Fritz. A progressive menu filled with Brussel Sprouts, Poke, Kale Salads to Bone Marrow and Steak. You will leave feeling refreshed and satisfied.

Sleep: Simple Lodge & Hostel. Expect to meet some neat people coming from all different paths and adventures of life. The Hostel is well maintained, clean,welcoming and rather big. Offers rooms with bunks to private rooms. It’s located in the middle of Downtown, allowing you to paint the town red and not worry about driving.

Do: Hit up the Hot Springs at Mount Princeton, if you are wanting something a little classy. If you are wanting to take in the highest content of lithium and be in a more relaxed atmosphere, then go to Cottonwood Hot Springs in Buena Vista.


Ben Knight showing us how to take advantage of the trail.

Simple Lodge and Hostel is a perfect place to stay in Salida.

Photo By Ben Knight

Photo By Ben Knight

Colorado Springs

Ride:  Captain Jacks  DOWN to the Chutes.  Make sure to wear your knee pads and elbow pads as it is a fast descent on loose pea gravel with roots, chutes, whoop-de-dos and berms. You will climb up Chamberline–>up the Chutes–>up Goldcamp and up Highdrive. Highdrive is an escape from climbing and will get you to Captian Jacks. Watch your speed as it’s easy to forget the word “SLOW” exist.

Eat: Sweet and Savory Pi Bar. A hidden gem in Colorado Springs that will satisfy your hunger and sweet tooth. They create delicious and unique sweet and savory “Pi’s” that will overwhelm your senses with a new twist to nostalgic favorites.

Sleep: Check out Avenue Hotel and Bed and Breakfast in Manitou Springs. A quaint little town tucked up at the base of Pikes Peak. Enjoy the hippy, quirky scene and easy access to some great trails.

Do: Grab a drink from “The Bar” at the Broadmoor, enjoy that drink sitting on the patio overlooking the lake and mountains. You will begin to think you are in Tuscany. Don’t worry about getting fancy, just don’t wear your mountain bike shoes around as you might get stuck on the escalator.


Casey Norton boosting down the pea gravel of Captain Jacks.

Casey Norton on Captain Jacks.

Molly Norton on Captain Jacks.

A must do: Sweet and Savory Pi Bar

Crested Butte :

Ride: 401. Lung buster of a climb, but worth every light headed moment. The max elevation is 11,349 feet and the descent of the trail is fast and flowy that is surrounded by beautiful views and handle bar high wildflowers.

Eat: Secret Stash Pizza; a unique gourmet pizza restaurant. Also serving choices other than pizza. Delicious and creative pizzas I must say. They also accommodate dietary restrictions without the sacrifice.

You are also going to wanna stop at the Rum Distillery known as Montanya. Be sure to mention it’s your first time there, as you will receive free shots! Who doesn’t want free rum shots?! All the free stuff is in Crested Butte, hangovers included.

Sleep: I would suggest taking advantage of an Airbnb with this town. You are bound to find a neat, cozy, wallet friendly place right in town.

Do: Surround yourself in the symphony of Wildflowers from July 11th-23rd. There is plenty festivities happening during this period known as the Wildflower Festival, it is the Wildflower Capital after all.


Crested Butte is known as the Wildflower Capital of the World.

Did we mention wildflowers?

The Secret Stash is no secret in Crested Butte.

Endless camping options around Crested Butte.


Ride: 18 Road. Come beginners come experts! 18 Road is basically an amusement park and is special in the fact that you can do a 25 min loop, bunny hop right into your campsite, down a beer or grapefruit juice, then get back on your bike and do it all over again. It’s like the ultimate mountain bikers dream.

Eat: Hot Tomato, a pizza joint that can’t be replicated. The vibe is mountain biking lifestyle from the prints hanging on the walls to the beer selection. The pizza is delicious, the wine, beer, staff, customers and playlist are bitchin.

Sleep: 18 Road Campground. Get here early to grab a camp spot as it fills up rather quickly. Pro: you are far enough away from your neighbor’s campsite that you don’t hear them farting in their tents. Cons: You are 15+ minute drive from anything.

Do: Check out the endless Vineyards in Palisade or any of the other wineries in the valley.

18 Road offers one of the best campgrounds for riding in all of Colorado.

Plenty of flow on these trails.

Mo Joe's is littered with jumps to get your air time fix.

Must. Eat. Hot Tomato!

about the author

Roxanne Trujillo

Roxanne is a Coloradical single track slayer, crux seeking, pow loving, thrill taking mom of a child that's comparably wild. Armed with enthusiasm and good coffee, she devotes herself to the outdoors and keeping pace with her adorable and energetic daughter. She is an ambassador for RaceFace, a V-something climber and goes by Birdy. She fantasizes often about throwing herself, daughter, friends and bikes in a Sprinter wrapped in #canvasthetoddler and peeling out to chase the mundo hermoso.

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