Colorado is synonymous with mountains (and mountain biking); no one talks about visiting without considering the exciting activities they can do or places they can see in one of The Centennial State’s mountain ranges. The difficulty is that Colorado is huge and we have so many mountains it can be overwhelming for visitors. This is why we’re writing this guide!
We can’t possibly cover everything worth visiting in Colorado if you’re a mountain biking beginner — that would be thousands of words. Instead, we’d like to offer some advice, recommendations, and encouragement for anyone hoping to head to Colorado on a beginner mountain biking adventure. If anything we say inspires you to travel with us, check out our Guided Custom Colorado Bike Tours.
Mountain Biking for Beginners in the Front Range
The Front Range is the perfect beginner spot for a Colorado mountain biking trip. It is easy to access, there are a lot of beginner trails (alongside intermediate and advanced trails), and the Front Range’s proximity to Fort Collins, Denver, and Boulder means that there is a lot to do when you’re not out on your bike. Let’s look at the Front Range in more detail.
Bear Creek Lake Park
With around 13 miles of MTB trails to choose from, Bear Creek Lake Park has a lot to offer. There is just enough challenge to ensure it is interesting to everyone who visits, but also sufficient straightforward parts to qualify it as a beginner MTB location.
Elk Meadows Park
With 14 miles of trails in Elk Meadows Park, there is plenty to see and explore here. While still officially a beginner MTB location, this is undoubtedly on the more difficult end of the beginner range. Here, the easiest route is from Sleepy “S” to Meadow View to Painters Pause Trail. While still a challenge for many riders, the views make it more than worth the effort.
Downtime in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins
This short section in this guide could be expanded into three separate guides as there is so much to see and do in just one of these cities, let alone all three. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least allude to the brewery tours, concerts, and local experiences galore in these three cities!
If you visit all three, you’ll notice how unique each city is. Sure, they all have that quintessential mountain vibe you just don’t find at lower altitudes, but that’s where the similarities end.
One of the important things to factor into your beginner mountain biking experience is rest. Your muscles and your mind need a break and Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins are excellent places to spend your downtime. In fact, there’s so much to do and so much fun to be had that they are beginning to be known as hotspots for bachelor and bachelorette parties combined with mountain biking in the Front Range.
Mountain Biking Near Buena Vista and Salida
Moving right into the heart of the Rocky Mountains, you have the towns of Buena Vista and Salida. Buena Vista more than earns its name as the views of the Rocky Mountains in the distance are truly breathtaking. Both towns are worth visiting in their own right, but it’s their proximity to great beginner mountain bike trails that earns their place in this guide.
The Twin Lakes to Half Moon Creek
This section of the Colorado trail runs alongside Mount Elbert, which is the highest peak in all of Colorado. If that weren’t enough reason to visit, there are numerous different MTB trails, many of which are ideal for beginners! With lush forests, serene lakes, and challenging terrain, The Twin Lakes to Half Moon Creek alone makes it worth visiting Half Moon Creek.
The Railroad Tunnel River Road
This trail stretches from Buena Vista all the way to the Arkansas River. The road on the way to the MTB trails passes through several railroad tunnels, and the views of Mt. Princeton, Mt. Yale and Mt. Columbia are excellent. The trails here are relatively easy and the views are second to none.
Mountain Biking Near Fruita
Fruita is a city in western Mesa County, Colorado. Its desert landscape provides a completely different kind of challenge from the other mountainous locations detailed in this guide. In essence, the trails around Fruita have become an alternative for people interested in riding through Moab in nearby Utah.
If exploring the MTB trails around Fruita in summer, we strongly advise against heading out around midday. Temperatures climb towards triple figures at this time and it’s just not worth the risk. Instead, chill around the town, get some brunch, fueling up for a late afternoon adventure.
To the north of Fruita itself you can find the 18 Road Trails, the classic rides that helped to make this area an MTB destination. A visit to these world-class, single-track mountain biking trails provides a great opportunity to experience diverse desert terrain.
The trail here is rated difficult. But this is due to some very steep descents more than technical features. It’s important to keep in mind that 18 Road can be intimidating for the uninitiated.
Mountain biking is incredibly popular in this part of Colorado, but there are more than enough trails to go around. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of cyclists in Fruita itself but don’t bump into nearly as many when you’re out on the trails.
We’ve only scratched the surface of all the places you should see if you’re planning a Colorado vacation as a fledgling mountain biker. That said, we hope we’ve given you one or two places to add to your trip itinerary. We also hope we’ve helped inspire you to finally start planning your next big adventure! If you have any questions about this guide or about our MTB tours, please get in touch.