By R. Scott Rappold
If you ask a skier or snowboarder which other sport they spend the most time and money on, there’s a good bet they’ll answer “mountain biking.”
That adrenaline rush of plunging down a rugged trail through the forest, with the majesty of the Rockies to pleasure your eyes should you dare look up, is probably the closest thing to the joy of skiing you’ll find in summer (other than, well, carrying your skis to a lingering snowfield high on a mountainside.)
Luckily for mountain bikers in several resort towns, the lifts start up again after the snow melts to get you up the mountain. And they’ll even transport your bike.
Here is a roundup of which Colorado Ski Country USA resorts offer lift rides for mountain bikers. Just be sure to check with the individual resort before heading up as times and dates can change depending on weather and snowmelt. Also, many resorts offer discount bike tickets to ski pass holders, so be sure to bring your pass.
Cyclists in the Roaring Fork Valley can take the Elk Camp Gondola to the Elk Camp Chairlift and then fly down 2,897 vertical feet all the way to the Snowmass Base Village. There are a skills park for beginners and plenty of moderately steep trails and flatter cross-country routes for intermediate riders, and steeps for the experts. The park offers more than 50 miles of trails, and the lifts will run in 2017 from June 23 to Sept. 4, with a full-day ticket price of $42.
More information: https://www.aspensnowmass.com/plan-your-stay/biking/bike-snowmass
This Summit County resort runs the American Eagle chair from mid-June to mid-September, providing access to a range of trails for beginners, intermediate riders and experts. A $20 ticket gets you and your bike up there. Gravity gets you down. Try not to get distracted by the stunning views of the jagged Gore Range in the distance. If you’re hungry, grab a bite at Solitude Station, which is open for lunch and beverages.
Theres nothing like the view from the top of Crested Butte Mountain. On a bluebird day, you can gaze down on the town of Crested Butte, look out toward the old town site of Gothic (a mining camp turned research station) or take in the entire Gunnison Valley. And with a ride on the Silver Queen or Red Lady Express, you can do it all without the work of hiking all the way up the mountain. From the top of the Silver Queen, options include hiking to the peak, having a picnic or simply riding the lift back down. The Red Lady Express carries mountain bikers and their bikes to the many trails, single track, and back roads of Crested Butte Mountain. Lifts run daily from June 11 to Sept. 5, and then weekends through early October. Get a single ride for $22 or an all-day ticket for $45.
More information: http://bike.skicb.com/
The northern Colorado ski resort Granby Ranch has become known in recent years for affordable, family-friendly skiing. But from late May through early October, you can hop on the chairlift with your bike and have a wide range of trails to choose from. The lifts run Wednesday through Sunday May 26 through September 4, then weekends only through Oct. 2. An adult ticket is $34, or $10 for a single ride.
More information: http://www.granbyranch.com/bike-granby-ranch/bike.html
The Grand Mesa is known for its superb mountain biking, and hopping on the lift at ski area Powderhorn can take a lot of the uphill legwork out of the equation. The Flat Top Flyer runs on summer weekends, with access to four trails, from easy to difficult. You can also ride the West Bench Trail to Mesa Lakes in, 8 miles each way, where there’s a full-service lodge and restaurant. ou can buy a single-ride ticket for $12, an all-day pass for $25 or a season pass for $139.
More information: http://www.powderhorn.com/MtnBiking
After the snow melts, ski area Purgatory Resort offers the only lift-served downhill trails in the Four Corners region. The Lift 4 will take you and your bike from the base village to the middle of the mountain. From here, riders can pedal higher on their own to access more remote trails or ride down one of five trails back to the base village, at $15 for a single ride or $40 for a full-day ticket. The Paul’s Park, Harris Loop, Goo Creek and Los Pinos trails are closed until July 1 for elk calving in Hermosa Park.
More information: https://www.purgatoryresort.com/activities/mountain-biking/
This northern Colorado resort, known for its “champagne powder,” becomes a mountain-biking Mecca for a few months in summer. The gondola from the base area provides access to 50 miles of trails between late June and late September, with an even mix of beginner, intermediate and expert runs. Full-day tickets are $39 ($29 for ski area passholders), with $29 twilight tickets (good for 4-7p.m.) Thursdays through Saturdays. Twilight tickets are $15 during September.
More information: https://www.steamboat.com/things-to-do/downhill-mountain-biking
The free gondola running between the town of Telluride and the Telluride Ski Resort starts running in mid-June for mountain bikes, offering access to six trails, none of which are rated for beginners. Trails run through forests and glades of the ski area into town, where you can hop on the gondola for another run. And did we mention the gondola is free? Get some. Bikes are usually allowed until mid-October.
Ski area Winter Park offers a ton of summer lift-served activities, including one of the state’s largest bike parks. Trestle Pike Park is accessed from the Zephyr Express, Eskimo and Gemini lifts, with 40 miles of trail to work with, from gentle cruisers to steep singletrack. The lifts run from mid-June through Labor day, and each July, the Colorado Freeride Festival, the largest such even in the U.S., takes over the ski area.
More information: https://www.trestlebikepark.com/