10 of the Best Mountain Bike Trails in Colorado

Rounding up 10 of the very best trails in one of the best regions for mountain biking on planet Earth.

Greg Heil

Images

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First Descent Photographer

by Tom M.

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Epic Antora View Photographer

by Greg Heil

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Sweet Singletrack Photographer

by Greg Heil

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Ouray Airtime Photographer

by Marcel Slootheer

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Riding Beneath Ouray Photographer

by Marcel Slootheer

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Old School Cribbing Photographer

by Greg Heil

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View from the top of Kennebec Pass. Photo: Greg Heil.

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Airing off one of many rock slabs. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Marcel Slootheer

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Top of the Nice Kitty climb. Photo: Greg Heil

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Rock slab airtime. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Marcel Slootheer

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The section of iconic berms. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Marcel Slootheer

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Top of the Nice Kitty climb. Photo: Greg Heil

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One of many breathtaking corners on the 401 Trail. Rider: Andrew K. Photo: Greg Heil.

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Looking down valley toward Gothic. Photo: Greg Heil.

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Greg Heil descending the 403 Trail

by Marcel Slootheer

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Marcel Slootheer climbing up 403

by Greg Heil

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Riding the technical trails at the Lunch Loops trail system. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, Mapping Manager, International Mountain Bicycling Association. Photo courtesy BLM via Flickr Creative Commons.

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Riding the technical trails at the Lunch Loops trail system. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, Mapping Manager, International Mountain Bicycling Association. Photo courtesy BLM via Flickr Creative Commons.

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Riding the technical trails at the Lunch Loops trail system. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, Mapping Manager, International Mountain Bicycling Association. Photo courtesy BLM via Flickr Creative Commons.

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The terrain out at Lunch Loops can feel otherworldly. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, Mapping Manager, International Mountain Bicycling Association. Photo courtesy BLM via Flickr Creative Commons.

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A few of the Lunch Loops trails are quite smooth. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, Mapping Manager, International Mountain Bicycling Association. Photo courtesy BLM via Flickr Creative Commons.

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Bombing down a ridgeline at 18 Road. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, Mapping Manager, International Mountain Bicycling Association. Photo courtesy BLM via Flickr Creative Commons.

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Bombing down a ridgeline at 18 Road. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, Mapping Manager, International Mountain Bicycling Association. Photo courtesy BLM via Flickr Creative Commons.

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Bombing down a ridgeline at 18 Road. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, Mapping Manager, International Mountain Bicycling Association. Photo courtesy BLM via Flickr Creative Commons.

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Bombing down a ridgeline at 18 Road. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, Mapping Manager, International Mountain Bicycling Association. Photo courtesy BLM via Flickr Creative Commons.

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A seat with a view. Scott Cotter

by Scott Cotter

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A skull to guide the way. Scott Cotter

by Scott Cotter

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Into the blue Brett Huber

by Brett Huber

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Ledges of Love Brett Huber

by Brett Huber

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Viewtastic Brett Huber

by Brett Huber

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Selfie Shelf Brett Huber

by Brett Huber

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Rock groove Brett Huber

by Brett Huber

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Near Breckenridge. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Mike H.

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Nearing the top of Georgia Pass. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Mike H.

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The route’s high point: Georgia Pass, above treeline. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Mike H.

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Nearing the end of the route, just down valley from Breckenridge. Photo: Greg Heil.

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Above Breckenridge. Photo: Greg Heil.

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Looking down from the top of Georgia Pass toward the South Park Valley and Kenosha Pass. Photo: Greg Heil.

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Steamboat

by Jered and Alexis Hofker

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The 804 Loop, Crested Butte, CO. Rider: Greg Heil

by Marcel Slootheer

Creative Commons: Attribution

Description

If you analyze mountain bike destinations not just on a local level (or a state level, or a national level), but if you actually compare areas of the world on a global scale, you'll quickly realize that only a handful of regions truly have what it takes to rank as one of the world's best mountain bike destinations.

If I had to assemble a list of the top five regions globally that provide premiere mountain bike trail access, Colorado would no doubt be near the top of the list. My other choices for a top 5 list? British Columbia, New Zealand's South Island, Switzerland (or the Alps more generally, if a region that big still counts), and Scotland. When it comes to the Colorado Rockies, any claims made about the state, or any comparison leveled between destinations… Colorado can compete.

Colorado boasts some of the best mountain bike trail access on planet earth. Thousands of miles of singletrack trails run through the soaring peaks of the Rocky Mountains, the low deserts, the foothills, the verdant valleys, and the suburban parks of the Front Range megalopolis. The average quality of the singletrack is staggeringly high, with dozens of epic rides that will make you think, "this might just be the best mountain bike trail I've ever ridden in my entire life!"

While Colorado does offer deserts and foothills and valleys, it's best-known for its high altitude singletrack strung across some of the tallest peaks on the continent. Pedaling through high alpine tundra, meadows filled with wildflowers, or even ripping down the slopes of a 14,000-foot mountain peak, is all par for the course in Colorado and somehow even becomes commonplace.

If you were to take one of Colorado's mediocre high-alpine rides, one that gets a consistent review of "eh, it's ok, but have you heard about THIS TRAIL!" and transplant it into any other mountain bike destination in the world, it would likely be one of the best trails in that destination. So when the bar for singletrack quality in Colorado is set so incredibly high, it takes some serious chops to qualify as a top trail.

With that high bar in mind, I present to you 10 of the very best trails in the state of Colorado. There's plenty of room for debate on this list, and again, there are hundreds of world-class mountain bike rides in Colorado. But if you're looking for a hitlist to get you started, a best-of-the-best list to guide you as you explore this epic state, begin your quest with the incredible mountain bike trails found in this guidebook!

Adventures

Monarch Crest

This epic trail provides high alpine ridge top riding at treeline with views for hundreds of miles in all directions, finishing with a ripping descent down the mountain.

Little Scraggy Loop

New school flow combines with Buffalo Creek's classic granite rocks and beautiful views to create the popular Little Scraggy Loop.

The 804 Loop

A beautiful high-alpine trail connected into a mega loop.

Lunch Loops

While easily accessible from the town of Grand Junction, the Lunch Loops provide rocky, technical singletrack to challenge even the best of mountain bikers.

Doctor Park Loop

Not only is it considered the best backcountry singletrack descent in Crested Butte, but Doctor Park ranks as one of the best singletrack descents in the nation!

Zippety Do Da

Zippety Do Da provides the fast downhill bombs, swoop and flow, and visually-stunning ridgeline singletrack that put Fruita on the map.

Phil's World

A 25-mile winding, swooping beginner-friendly (but joy-inducing for all levels) chunk of high-desert terrain that will pin your grin from ear to ear.

Colorado Trail: Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge

This beautiful section of the Colorado Trail offers high-quality bike-legal singletrack the entire way, making for an ambitious day ride or an excellent portion of a bikepacking route.