First Impressions: Snowmass Bike Park
Riders: Christina Chappetta & Braydon Bringhurst // Video: Christina Chappetta, Whit Boucher & Steve Karczewski // Photography: Brooks Curran
With travelling back on the menu last summer, Christina jumped at the opportunity to head back to her old stomping ground of Colorado for a quick visit and to lay her tires on some of that perfect Rocky Mountain singletrack. The air can be a bit thin up there, but the views and trails make it all worth it. As Christina's summer had been full of adventures, she only had one day at Snowmass Bike Park
to sample as many of the amazing trails as possible. Luckily for her though, we sent Braydon Bringhurst in for a recon mission so he could let her know what to add to the hit list to make the most of her day on the mountain. Below are some pictures from his epic day out in the high alpine evergreen forest and Aspen groves ahead of Christina's arrival.
It's always more fun to shred with friends, so joining Christina in the bike park were two Aspen legends, both on bikes and skis. Whit Boucher is known around town for being quite fast and quite extreme, to say the least. He's the kind of guy that enjoys hiking 14,000+ foot mountains, on skis or bikes. And Steve is a local favorite anywhere he goes, ski boot fitter in the winter, friendly Four Mountain Sports
employee in the summer, and always down for a good time! The guy is wicked fast as well! They both know the Snowmass Bike Park like the back of their hand which was quite handy for Christina. With just one day and a ton of trails to hit, it was helpful to have an experienced wheel to follow, even if Christina wasn't too sure if she could trust them yet or not.
The Snowmass Bike Park is located within only one of seven Gold Level IMBA Ride centres in the world. It's almost like a bike park within a bike park where there are the usual downhill trails, easily accessed via the Elk Camp Gondola and chairlift, but there are also XC style trails and ascending trails scattered throughout. Snowmass even hosted the Enduro World Series back in 2016, although a lot has changed since then. The bike park crew has made it their mission to continue to expand each year and it shows, with tons of new trails to please everyone from the most novice of bikers to the expert level riders that want fast, techy trails and big jumps. One of the many crowd favorites has to be French Press, the mountain's longest machine-built trail at 4.4 miles long with a descent of 2,100 vertical feet. Designed to be a blue freeride trail, this one truly had something for everyone and kept the heart rate up while the smile dial was fully maxed out. What's not to love about perfectly flowing singletrack?
After uploading the Elk Camp Gondola from Snowmass Village, situated above 8,000 feet elevation, you arrive at a mid-mountain point. This is pretty helpful once the hands started to get tired and shorter laps are necessary, as well as being handy for those snack or lunch breaks. It's also convenient because the upper and lower mountains offer slightly different terrain options. You can pick and choose based on how you're feeling. Christina, Whit and Steve couldn't miss the chance to see the Maroon Bells from the top of the Elk Camp Chairlift, situated at 11,325 feet so a fair few thousand feet of descending were on the agenda! From the top, everyone drops into Vapor before funnelling off to other options including Animal Crackers, French Press and eventually a new intermediate tech trail called Dust Bunny.
Following a pit-stop at Limelight Snowmass
to fuel up the bodies, it was back on the hill to crush out some lower mountain laps. It was difficult to pull Christina, Whit and Steve away from the jump trails like Valhalla and Gonzo, but they managed to sample some of the black diamond tech trails which would challenge the best downhill riders, especially at speed. Surprisingly though, Christina's favorite section of trail was Papa Smurf, a new blue tech trail that is short in length but a super fun, tight section of singletrack that connects you back to the top of the gondola instead of the mountain base.
With the crew focused on riding as many trails as possible and nothing but blue skies ahead, it was time to hit the singletrack. Follow along for our First Impressions.
All trails off the top of the Elk Camp Chairlift start at Vapor. It's a perfect warm up to get the blood flowing and start clocking those air miles.
Bit uncommon to see Braydon with both wheels on the ground.
Wildflowers and Maple groves... you almost forget you're in a bike park.
Tons of options for a quick snack or full course lunch to get you fuelled up and back on the trails in no time.
Bit of the smoother singletrack to mix it up and give the hands a quick rest before dropping into the lower mountain gnar.
Plenty of literal pieces of art to ride on or over for the freeride lovers at Snowmass Bike Park. Gonzo trail (left) and Valhalla trail (right).
Until next time Colorado.Bike Snowmass mountain biking trails