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While the Cottonwood Trail is typically pedaled as a loop by the locals, with easy access to the top of the trail via the 2WD Ute Trail Road, it's not surprising that it has become a popular shuttle ride.
In fact, local bike shop Absolute Bikes also offers commercial shuttles to the upper parking lot. Even though the angsty locals might say that "Trump Shuttles Cottonwood," if Trump can do it, then why can't you do it, too? The route shown here depicts the quickest rip down the Cottonwood Shuttle Run. Even though Cottonwood is known as a shuttle run, you'll still have to do a little bit of up-and-down climbing along the Beasway Trail before you get to the bulk of the descent.
Despite a bit of pedaling that's required, Beasway is a true bench cut masterpiece that holds some rocks and flow in alternating doses.
This meandering trail runs along close to 9,000 feet, providing spectacular views of the valley below and the Sawatch Range beyond. Once you hit the top of Rhumba Ridge, get ready to descend! The downhill begins with a high-speed bench cut singletrack transitioning into a flowy, swoopy drop down the valley. Then, the singletrack gets radically more technical, with the Waterfall section offering wall rides, steep rock rolls, chunder, ledge drops, and more—the advanced mountain biker's dream! Following the Waterfall, the singletrack drops into the Cottonwood drainage from whence the trail gets its name, speeding down to the tightly-wound Arkansas Hills trail network.
While the singletrack here isn't as technical as the Waterfall, it feels like the rocks never end, and optional jumps and drops abound. Once you get into the Arkansas Hills, there's no end of options for finishing the descent.
The route shown here keeps it steep and rowdy, but you'll have to pedal a bit across the Backbone Trail to reach the finale on Lower Sand Dunes.
Lower Sand Dunes is a true gem, with rock gardens, drops, and a rowdy rock wall ride mixed in!