The snow hasn't melted completely but we know you're eager to get on your bike, and now is a perfect opportunity to explore some of Aspen's famous road bike rides. Here are the 5 most popular paved routes perfect for late spring adventures:
Maroon Bells photo by Jesse Varner
Maroon Creek Road
Maroon Creek road leading to the the beautiful Maroon Bells might just be the most iconic bike ride in Colorado. This route is 22 miles round-trip and is considered a moderate difficulty, which makes it very popular with riders from various skill levels. Many people choose to take a ride to the top and cruise downhill all the way to Aspen but keep in mind that Maroon Creek Road closes to motorized traffic between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. Without the distinctive noise of cars you can fully enjoy the serenity of this beautiful area and you are probably going to see marmots, deer, and maybe even moose.
Rio Grande Trail
The Rio Grande Trail is another very popular bike route near Aspen. Favored by locals, this trail is relatively easy and mostly paved, which makes it a perfect choice for early season riding. The Rio Grande Trail follows the course of the Roaring Fork River from Herron Park in Aspen all the way to Glenwood Springs for more than 40 miles. It is built upon the Aspen Branch of the former rail corridor of Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. It's been a mighty long time since the last train ran trough the area, these days we leave it to the bikers and nature enthusiasts to enjoy its beauty and rich history.
Aspen – Snowmass Village – Wood Creek Loop
When it comes to enjoying nature, looping trails are the best for they allow you to start and finish at the same spot without repeating the views. This one is rated as difficult and is about 36 miles round-trip but it is totally worth it. The loop begins in charming downtown Aspen, and takes in scenic ranchland en route to Snowmass Village, before descending to charming Woody Creek. Cyclists return to Aspen via the Rio Grande Trail.
Rated very difficult, this bike route climbs to a breathtaking 12, 095 feet above the sea level and is a true challenge. The round trip is 40 miles and takes the riders through 4,200 feet of elevation gain going from the Valley Floor, through the Montane and the Subalpine Zone to the Alpine Tundra. Following the narrow lanes of the Independence Pass Scenic Byway, this bike ride as a moderate but turns into a grueling climb towards the top. It is no surprise that the best bicyclists in the world compete on this same stretch every year during the U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge.
Biking Around Town
Pitkin county has an amazing network of bike paths that can take you around Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt and Carbondale. They are designed to keep bikers off the busy traffic allowing the users to safely experience the scenery of the area. A lot of the small local trails provide clearly marked connections to the major biking routes. Using a bike as a means of transportation around Aspen is a great way enjoy the mountains and get ai work out but you need to be mindful of the busy motorized traffic and pedestrians.