5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
Aspen Ridge reigns supreme as the most scenic gravel road ride in the entire Arkansas Valley! This appealing route departs the town of Buena Vista, climbs to the top of a gorgeous ridge with stunning views of the Sawatch Mountain Range, and then traverses the ridge for miles and before finally dropping steeply into the town of Salida. For an added visual bonus, opt to pedal this route in late September or the beginning of October when the aspen leaves turn to brilliant gold! While this road is very popular as a leaf peeping drive, it’s still worth braving the leaf peeper traffic for the experience of pedaling through such an incredible aspen grove. While most of this route is quite smooth and fast, portions of the climb up to the top of the ridge and the descent down the backside are very rocky and rough, with some roots and small drops in places.
While this entire ride is navigable on a gravel bike, care must be taken to negotiate the chunky portions of the ride safely.
While these technical sections are a small percentage of the overall ride, Aspen Ridge originally served as a popular mountain biking route before the advent of capable gravel bikes.
Take that as a note of caution. While the route mapped here is a popular point-to-point option connecting the two towns, you can turn it into a loop by using county roads in the valley, or you can create much more complex loop route options high in the Arkansas Hills.
This is just one popular route to get you started, and from here, you can let your imagination run wild!