mountain biker on colorado trail

The Three Best Mountain Biking Trails in Colorado

Colorado, a state that's not just growing in population but also in popularity among mountain bikers, offers a unique blend of adventure and convenience. Determined cyclists from all over the country are drawn to the home of the Rocky Mountains, especially during the spring, summer and fall. The allure of cascading hills, rocky slopes and towering forests is hard to resist. Colorado's urban settings are seamlessly integrated with its natural surroundings. You can spend the night in Denver and hit the trails early the next day for the best of both worlds. 

Learn about the best mountain biking trails in Colorado to start planning your stay. 

Tips for Mountain Biking in Colorado

Tourists have recently flocked to the state’s numerous mountain biking trails. While there are various options to explore, some trails prioritize hikers and other activities on certain days. Call the park office to learn more about the schedule. 

Colorado's mountain biking trails are renowned for their dramatic elevation, steep inclines and dramatic declines. Safety should be your top priority. Besides wearing a helmet, protect your shoulders, knees and elbows with pads to cushion any falls. Opt for a bike with reinforced shocks and new treads to maintain grip over rocks and debris. Regularly check and replace your brake pads and inspect your brake lines to ensure a safe downhill ride. Come prepared for the trail with the right mountain biking gear for the terrain.

You likely won’t have the trail to yourself. Be prepared to navigate other riders, narrow pathways, steep edges and a thriving hiking community. Use Bluetooth bike helmets to coordinate hands-free with your group. The lead rider should always alert the others when an obstacle appears and provide riding tips to new climbers. They can also strategize the best route based on the amount of traffic on the trail.  

The Cardo Packtalk Outdoor makes it easy to communicate wirelessly across long distances. The device automatically reconnects when in range so you and your companions can focus on the trail. Just speak to the receiver to strike up a conversation as if you were talking face to face. 

Use the Cardo Packtalk Outdoor for Hands-Free Communication

The Best Colorado Mountain Biking Trails

switchback on mountain biking trail

Source: StockedAndLoaded/Shutterstock.com

1. Crested Butte

Beginners, thrill seekers and nature lovers will feel at home in Colorado’s iconic mountain biking town. Once a mining town, Crested Butte now features some of the state’s best MTB trails. In the past, the residents engineered off-road bikes with wide, grooved tires to get through the unpaved streets in harsh winters. 

Evolution Bike Park is a place where newer riders can refine their skills. It provides an expansive introduction to climbing, with singletracks of varying inclines and plenty of turns to prepare for the real thing.

More experienced climbers can hit the 401 loop for a challenging 14-mile trail that weeds out the crowds. It climbs 2,200 feet to look over the Elk Range. A daunting descent leads to an expansive wildflower meadow that can fill with mud after heavy rain.

2. Buffalo Creek

At 24 miles, this marathon trail passes over various terrain, including smooth rocks, sand pits and various tree-coated hills to keep you on your toes. It features moderate climbs and descents spread over long distances. The ground typically remains dry even when every other park is covered in mud. It’s perfect for anyone looking for a leisurely ride with scenery minus the intensity of a steep climb.

3. Monarch Crest

Want more of a challenge? The Monarch Crest Trail in the San Isabel National Forest is about as difficult as it gets — at least for the U.S. The path reaches 12,000 feet in elevation for 360-degree views of the rocky hills. It eventually weaves down through a bed of hot springs. Driving to the trailhead gives you the energy to climb some 2,000 feet. 

The high altitude exposes you to the wind, occasionally whipping you to the left or right. Keep a safe distance from the edges. Prepare for a harder climb if the wind is blowing against you. Bring layers you can quickly add or remove based on the temperature. 

cyclist riding on trail

Source: marekuliasz/Shutterstock.com

Explore Colorado’s Top Trails

You don’t have to go far to find a quality mountain biking trail in Colorado. The state is teeming with parks and trails for riders of all experience levels. Natural beauty remains the area’s chief tourist attraction — and the best way to see it is on a bike.