A great XC loop ride on Pajarito Mountain.


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FATMAP difficulty grade



If you head to the Pajarito Bike Park during the week when the lifts aren't spinning, the Aspen for Trouble trail provides an achievable uphill climb.

Winding its way from the base area to the top of the mountain, this switchbacked climbing trail is a reasonable pedal—albeit with some spicy bits mixed in.

Many riders will also opt to use their ebikes to burn through the climb faster to get to the real reward: the downhill runs. Once on top, you can opt to take any of the technical downhill trails back down the mountain.

But if you're looking for an intermediate-friendly loop ride, follow this route combination to link Aspen for Trouble to Aspenola, aka the Aspen Flow Trail.

The climb begins in the thick timber at the bottom of the resort, climbing slowly via a series of switchbacks.

Several welcome grade reversals and slight downgrades on the lower slopes offer a welcome break from the uphill grind. After you reach the mountain's far northwestern corner, the climbing begins in earnest, ascending via a series of stacked switchbacks.

You'll soon leave the towering pines behind in favor of whispering aspen groves.

This section of the mountain burned some years ago, so you'll note the aspen saplings regrowing in this section. After climbing high onto the mountain slopes, the views will really open up as you cross some wide-open ski runs.

And finally, you'll reach the final pitch to the top of the mountain: a long traverse taking you from the northwestern corner back over to the main lift. Now, it's time to drop in! Aspenola, aka Aspen Flow Trail, is the only somewhat easy flow trail in the entire Pajarito Bike Park as of the time of this writing in 2023.

Yes, there are a few easier trails down the mountain (such as Cub Scout), but those other trails ride more like access roads than actual mountain bike trails.

Aspenola was originally a hand-built singletrack route down the mountain like the rest of the trails at Pajarito, but it was retrofitted a couple of years ago with some machine-built berms.

As such, it's a fairly good flow trail, but at times you can definitely feel the retrofit nature when the flow changes or there’s a gap between the flowy bits.

Consequently, it’s not a perfect flow trail, but it’s the best easy route down the mountain and is a bit of a crowd-pleaser as a result. While you'll find some decent berms on Aspenola, there are very few jumps to be had.

There are a couple of small hits mixed in, but most of the trail consists of swooping through berms and high-speed ripping in between. Although Aspenola gets a "moderate" FATMAP difficulty rating, it’s not really a beginner flow trail.

Instead, you'll want to have intermediate-level skills before attempting Aspenola, due to some fairly fast sections, some loose bits of trail (especially when dry), and a few packs of tight back-to-back turns.