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Ready for the (bike) ride of your life in Aspen?

Posted: 13 Jun 2012

BLOG NOTE: This blog post is from a previous season. To view our most recent blog posts, click here.

Aspen is world-renown for having some of the most beautiful biking trails in the world. From easy trails such as the Rio Grande to more challenging paths like the Rim Trail and the Government Trail, Aspen has something for bikers of all abilities. Biking trails range from short three-mile trips to massive elevation gains, some more than 2,000 feet. And there's always Independence Pass, one of the most grueling, and challenging, yet beautiful, trails on Earth. Below is a quick peek at a few of Aspen's best biking trails.

RIO GRANDE TRAIL: Rated "easy," this is the most popular trail in the Aspen area. This mostly paved path follows the Roaring Fork River from Herron Park in Aspen all the way down valley, more than 20 miles. The trail offers a nice, wide path with paving as well as a small gravel strip along the side in most places. This scenic ride takes you over bridges and through wooded areas, offering a wide range of views. Almost any type of bike is sufficient on this trail.

MAROON BELLS: The most iconic ride in Aspen, climbing a gut-wrenching 11 miles to one of the most picturesque views in all of the Rocky Mountains. (Many people choose to ride up and bike down.) The Maroon Bells road is closed after 9 a.m. to motorized traffic, allowing the whole road for bikers. Mountain bikes or road bikes work on this trail, as it is all paved. You can actually ride from the top all the way back to Aspen.

SMUGGLER MOUNTAIN: Smuggler is a popular hike in Aspen, but it is also very popular with mountain bikers. Rated "difficult," the Smuggler trail provides switchbacks all the way to the top. At the top are amazing views of the entire valley and the town of Aspen. From the top, take a left-hand turn and you can access the Hunter Creek Trail. Mountain bikes only for this rugged terrain. Also, keep an eye out for numerous hikers, joggers and dogs.

HUNTER CREEK TRAIL: The Hunter Creek Trail is 5.5 miles long and has an elevation gain of 259 feet. It is rated as a "moderate" trail. For an added challenge, add 14 miles to your trip as you continue up to Midway Pass. This trail is open from Spring through Fall. Keep an eye out: The first three miles are heavily used by joggers, hikers and bikers. Also, this is a very popular trail for hikers with dogs. Mountain bikes are recommended here.

INDEPENDENCE PASS: Head east out of Aspen and let your quads burn. A moderate ride most of the way, the road gets steep as you near the top. If you make it to the top, take in the amazing views of the Continental Divide. There's a good chance you'll see snow at the top: more than 11,000 feet up, 12 months out of the year. Professional riders took to the Pass last summer during the U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge. Are you up for it? Be careful: You must share the road with motorized traffic. Grab your mountain bike or road bike for this "difficult" endeavor.

RIM TRAIL: A popular area for snowshoeing, this trail near Snowmass is also popular in the summers for bikers and hikers. If you travel south to north, the trail is easier. Overall, this biking trail is rated as "difficult" with an elevation gain of around 2,000 feet. The 3-mile-long path have very steep sections. The trail offers high-speed fun on the single-track area and has switchbacks at the challenging parts. Be on the lookout for wildlife. Great views of Snowmass Village.

GOVERNMENT TRAIL: This trail is closed for elk calving until June 20th. Also known as Brush Creek Trail, it's also popular as a cross-country skiing trail during the winter. From Aspen, the path descends toward Maroon Creek then ascends to Buttermilk ski area, ending at the Snowmass ski area. A car shuttle is recommended for this trail as it is not a loop. Keep an eye out for wildlife and amazing views.

AROUND TOWN: Do some exploring around town. There are tons of small trails around, many of which lead to one of the trails above. While in town, be wary of motorized traffic, joggers, children and dogs. And, always remember to wear your safety equipment and helmets. Riding around Aspen can be a great form of fun exercise. Most importantly, be safe.