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Colorado's 5 Most Popular Trail Networks According to Trailforks Data

Oct 19, 2021 at 18:49
by Brice Shirbach  
Things don't get particularly interesting in Colorado until you get about halfway across the state when headed west. However, once the Rocky Mountains say hello, you're firmly under their spell throughout the rest of the state. It's the 8th most expansive of the 50 states by area, and is home to 53 different mountain peaks in excess of 14,000 feet above sea level. While the state is large and offers up ample opportunity to adventure, roughly 70% of its population reside within the Front Range, the corridor between Cheyenne, WY and Pueblo, CO. It's also home to several prominent cycling brands, including Yeti Cycles, PEARL iZUMi, Guerilla Gravity, MRP, and more.

We wanted to see which networks in the Rocky Mountain State were the most popular, and so we headed to our sister site Trailforks to get the intel. Trailforks is a trail management system for riders, builders and associations and it aims to provide the very best tools to inventory, maintain, promote and showcase trail networks. By using the Trailforks ridelog feature, we were able to take a look at which trail networks across the state are the most ridden. While this is an accurate representation based on user input, this is not a list of favorites per se. It is a direct reflection of Trailforks usage, and if you want to ensure that your own riding has an impact on lists like this, you can do so by connecting your Strava account to Trailforks, or by simply using the tracking feature in the Trailforks app itself. This information can make for some spirited conversation, but more importantly can be leveraged by trail associations in their advocacy efforts.

The Lunch Loops are a stacked singletrack trail system just two miles from downtown Grand Junction. The proximity to town gave the system its name; a trail system you could enjoy on your lunch break. A technical trail system, many riders who come from other areas learn there is another level of riding when exploring these trails. Rocky in nature, the trails cut through the multi-colored desert landscape with frequent step-up and drop moves, steep climbs, and ripping downhills. The Lunch Loops feature the first direction downhill trail with "play" features constructed on BLM lands. Free Lunch, designed as an expert trail, has multiple drop sections and a rowdy, technical nature. Other advanced-expert trails in the system include Pucker Up, Holy Cross, Gunny Loop, and Eagle's Wing. The Lunch Loops are home to about 50 miles of trail, with a maximum vertical relief of 2,000 feet from its highest point 6,700 feet above sea level. It's a lot of work managing this level of trail traffic, and it's thanks to the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association that this place continues to thrive.

Lunch Loops mountain biking trails

 Tim Dacosta

Welcome to Trestle Bike Park. We're a full service mountain bike destination, with over 40 miles of trails for every experience level, lodging, food, demos, rentals, lessons, camps and events. Trestle has hosted Enduro World Series events, US National Championships, and plenty of additional world class races and events over the years, and has a loyal and dedicated contingent who frequent this place while the lifts are spinning. The high altitude of over 11,000 is easy to feel, but the brilliant trails from top to bottom help to ease any pain caused by the lack of oxygen.

Trestle Bike Park mountain biking trails

The Kokopelli trails straddle the border between Colorado and Utah, totalling over 150 miles of trail between the two states. The Loma, Colorado portion make up about half of that, with terrain varying from old jeep roads, to some pavement, to proper singletrack. Of course world famous trails like Horsethief Bench help to put Kokopelli on the map, but its work from the Grand Valley Canyons chapter of COPMOBA that have kept it there. The high desert landscape is riddled with mesas, and while the vertical relief tops out at just over 1,200 vertical feet, the punchy nature of the riding can make for quite a workout regardless of whether you're working with or against gravity.

Kokopelli Loops mountain biking trails

Views: 6,985    Faves: 24    Comments: 5

Located in the heart of Steamboat Springs, Emerald Mountain offers up big mountain riding right from downtown. With over 50 miles of trail available and a vertical relief of just over 1,500 feet from top to bottom, Emerald is one of the Yampa Valley's premier regions for off road adventure. Routt County Riders is the 501(c)3 responsible for these trails, and they have cemented themselves and mountain biking more broadly as an asset for the community by working closely with land managers and agencies throughout the region, which includes CDOT, Northwest Transportation Region, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Routt County, and the City of Steamboat Springs.

Emerald Mountain biking trails

Justin Reiter cruises through aspen trees in the early summer in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

Yet another gem from the Grand Valley Canyons chapter of COPMOBA, 18 Road in Fruita is a system of world class single-track mountain biking trails accessible directly from several adjoining campsites. The trail system and associated camping provide great opportunities to experience the diverse terrain of the high desert, western slope environment along the base of the Bookcliff Mountains. A favorite among photographers for the uncanny light early and late in the day, and among riders for the rapid and dusty flow throughout the network, 18 Road Trails offers several miles of riding among 36 trails, with a vertical drop of over 2,500 from the highest point in the network to the bottom of 18 Rd.

18 Road mountain biking trails

Last fall I was able to spend quality time blasting desert singletrack with Steve from Chasing Epic and Alex from Singletrack Sampler. Great times


  • 64 8
 As a native I can 100% say to go to 18 road and skip the rest of Colorado. Don't listen to anyone saying check out icons like Monarch or 401, they obviously don't know about this list
  • 10 0
 Cannot stress this enough
  • 15 0
 Get off my Colorado lawn!
  • 2 0
 @emery033: My favorite part of these is that they only show up on a given user's feed based on their location. So the people who already live in Colorado get to see all the trails they should be going to, as opposed to, say, learning about trails in Vermont.
  • 13 0
 @FranklinHaith: I think you're looking at this wrong. This isn't a "must ride" list. In the beginning I mention that it's data on Trailforks organized in a way that shows you how many unique visits (ride log) each of these places get. It's especially useful for trail orgs for leveraging purposes. Definitely not an editorialized "Top 5" list. If you want a properly in depth look at other communities and places to ride, check out Local Flavours Smile
  • 12 2
 All seriousness, I think it's cool to refrain from gatekeeping. People should get to ride our cool stuff Smile .
  • 2 0
 I keep threatening to do Lunch Loops every time I'm out there, but then 18 road and Kokopelli call and I find myself heading there way every chance I get. I'm also considering the Palisade Plunge on my next go around. Sooooo much good riding. Palisade Plunge looks super intriguing as well.
  • 8 1
 @soaklord: Lunch Loops is better and more fun than the Plunge 10 times out of 10.
  • 2 0
 @stevemokan: Oh yeah? Is the the plunge more xc than not? Hard to beat a ribbon to free lunch lap.
  • 1 0
 @FranklinHaith: I live in Colorado, have ridden all of these trail systems. My opinion (which Trailforks highlights) is that these are the top all around trails in CO. All have systems from Green to Double Black.
  • 1 0
 @soaklord: You'll love Loops! I choose it over the other two almost daily. The Plunge is excellent as well imo
  • 1 0
 @slayerdegnar: Decently XC but suuuuch good fun
  • 2 0
 @soaklord: loops is better than 18rd and Kokopelli IMO, but they have pretty different flavors. The plunge is... interesting. pretty. Wouldn't necessarily call it a must-ride. The palisade rim trail, however, is excellent!
  • 7 1
 This article reminds me I need to disconnect my Strava account from Trailforks. I really don’t need to give Outside more data.
  • 1 0
 @bicyclebeardface: Can I have a free season pass
  • 1 0
 @GotchaJimmy: Only if you come work for me.
  • 2 0
 @slayerdegnar: way more XC up top, and the bottom half isn't all that great either. A few short techy sections, otherwise it's a blue flow trail built into the side of a cliff with crazy exposure, sand, and loose rock. The last few miles are fun, but the rest is just kinda "meh".
  • 2 0
 18 roads is usually full of boy scouts on walmart bikes. There nothing wrong with that, but its true.
  • 1 2
 yes, also go to 401 and Monarch, they aren't any better. leave the real stuff to locals...
  • 2 4
 @soaklord: its not... its the worse purpose built trail i have even been on. what a waste. and no, im not joking. i rode the bottom half when it open and will never ride it again. However, you also like 18 road, so it might be your thing!
  • 5 0
 Oh man….that native sh*t card thrown out now. Annoying.
  • 1 5
flag rzicc (Oct 20, 2021 at 20:17) (Below Threshold)
 @KK11: yes, you are
  • 2 0
 @rzicc: You are on point. As a purpose built mtb trail it would be hard to make it worse. (Minus the last 3mi) Lots of uniterestig blue covered in 3" of sand. If "The plunge" was a sandwich it would be balogni on wonder bread sans mustard.
  • 3 0
 @Seldomseen83: the first steep part on near Mesa Top ain’t bad, and you’re right about the last 3 miles being the standout. The rest of the Plunge shouldn’t exist, and the trail will never truly set in given the terrain.

I’ve lived and biked out in GJ/Fruita/Palisade for several years. Many of the locals out here insist the Plunge is great, but they’re lying to themselves and it’s tragic.
  • 1 0
 @RogerMexico: I love the Plunge. Shirttail Point down is the most unique trail I've ever ridden. I think many people are stuck on the thought that its uniqueness makes it bad. It's a different kind of challenge.
  • 1 0
 Clearly you haven't ridden the East I-70 trail near Kanorado.
  • 19 0
 Clearly those riders hitting the secret Limon trails aren't uploading to the web.
  • 5 0
 Bro don't tell them about the Limon trails! It's our last spot!
  • 1 2
 Limon has trails? Googling now…
  • 3 1
 Limon is the new Fruita.
  • 2 0
 just go there... check it out. dont give up as the locals dont want to share! But keep trying. youll be able to tell everyone how long you have been riding there "before it blew up"...
  • 20 1
 Shocked Apex isn't on the list as half of Denver is usually riding there on an even day..
  • 12 0
 Maybe they're cancelled out by the hikers on enchanted that don't know how to use a calendar....
  • 6 0
 @texag: And can't read the bright red stop signs posted at the trailhead and on the gate that they invariably walk through to hike the gut on an even day...
  • 3 0
 @rowdyhonzo: I think it's getting better and they're just slow learners. I hope at least.
  • 3 0
 @rowdyhonzo: haha, legit 1 hour ago. atleast they were attractive and had a cute dog
  • 3 0
 @texag: don't worry, e bikers have decided directions aren't for them, and therefore they should cancel out the hikers.
  • 2 0
 Shit every trail within an hours drive if Denver gets hammered daily. By way too many people. We need to triple or quadruple the miles of trails down there.
  • 1 0
 The move is to ride Apex on odd days and do Grubstake. Or Chimpex. And go to White ranch on the even days.
  • 1 0
 @caseytango: How I wish chimney was bike only on odd days. Just so much foot traffic otherwise. That and Apex would cover the majority of weekday 1 hour winch and plummet rides with Dakota/Floyd/White ranch available to periodically change it up when more time is available.
  • 9 1
 Be warned the camping rules at 18 road have been revamped. A decent chunk of the BLM land at the bottom of PBR has been rebuilt into fee sites! Seemingly to accommodate all those fancy vans people are driving nowadays.
  • 2 0
 Bout time. Now, if they'd just use those fees for building more trails.....
  • 9 0
 Oddly enough, none of this is on the Front Range, where the majority of us live and ride.
  • 1 0
 Yeah I was really surprised by that as well. They seem to make up the majority of the regions between 6-20 though.
  • 5 0
 Cuz front range trails are too crowded....
  • 3 0
 I'm guessing that is because most people don't run an app on their local trails? But these big destination networks get looked up more often than apex or wr?
  • 8 0
 Emerald is the only network in Steamboat and it's amazing. There's definitely no other biking to be had anywhere else.
  • 4 0
 Pffff, the trails in Trinidad are where it's at if you're extreme mtb, just check out Brendog shredding them,19728/sspomer,2
  • 4 0
 You can get a gender change while you’re at it. Lol
  • 2 0
 @KK11: "back alley" gender bender only
  • 5 0
 I really don't understand these. The copy on the Trestle section is straight off their website.
  • 11 0
 It's simply a means of showcasing some useful data features available on Trailforks. It's especially useful for advocacy orgs looking to leverage the data for trail building and financial purposes. A large chunk of the copy, and all images/video/map embeds come right from Trailforks, we just wanted to organize so that people who weren't familiar with toggling Trailforks data can play around with it for whatever purposes.
  • 2 0
 @briceshirbach: I honestly don't understand people dumping on these articles you've been doing. It's pretty obvious to me that this is what they're for.
  • 7 0
 @PAmtbiker: yeah all good for me! I love a good "flex before you read" approach to interneting Wink
  • 10 4
 #advertorial! Welcome to the machine, Pinkbikers.
  • 3 2
 What are the metrics for being “popular”? It doesn’t seem possible that these five trail systems get the most rider days given the traffic some of the Front Range trails see, and the face that Emerald Mountain is only rideable 4-5 months a year. This seems like an arbitrary list of five random trail systems in Colorado.
  • 4 0
 it must be something like count of unique visitors. There is no way that are more rides happening on Emerald Mtn on a per ride basis than say White Ranch near Golden.
  • 3 0
 Good call out on what exactly is the metric being used. I assume it's people using TrailForks app and saying they did said trail or trail system? If they were using Strava it would be a total other Top 5, I assume. Like people are saying, on any given day Golden/Front Range trails would reign supreme for sure compared to Western Slope. But maybe that's why. It's all the Front Rangers using PinkForks (haha my name for Trailforks) cuz they don't know the trails and use the app to figure things out.
  • 3 0
 While lunch loops certainly have a smaller local user-base, it's usually rideable almost year-round, and the locals are there ALL the time-it's close and convenient from town by bike or car. Plus we get a decent amount of visitation from out of town. I almost wonder if car-accessed, more remote trailheads, while regularly busy are limited by how many people can park there and how many are willing to take the time to.
  • 4 0
 @sylentk: Loops are hopelessly and gloriously confusing to navigate, so maybe you have a point- the data may be skewed by people using trail forks for directions more then ride logging
  • 1 1
 @bicyclebeardface: sure, but you need to wait in line for a dozen people to drop into enchanted before it's your turn on any given even weekday between 4-8 pm in the Summer. I just don't think the western slope has the population to compete with these #s.
  • 1 0
 Totally-Apex is regularly as busy as a shopping mall at Xmas. I'm reading this as a reflection of Trailfork app adoption in different regions of the state.
  • 3 0
 This means nothing, use strava data and it is guarenteed to be front range trails where millions of people reside.
  • 3 0
 Surprised no Durango trail system love.
  • 3 0
 Raider Ridge!
  • 1 1
 It's way too far off a drive for most people and the moon dust there sucks.
  • 4 1
 @slayerdegnar: And what you should do is drive straight past Durango to Phil's World anyway!
  • 2 0
 18 loops used to be fun 10 years ago. I saw an 18 wheeler camper there recently. Jumped the shark to say the least
  • 1 0
 I don't care if more people are on these trails, just clean up after yourselves when camping and take your dog poop with you.
  • 3 0
 Did you guys only look at my Strava?
  • 2 0
 What? No Green Mountain? Green Mountain is the gnarliest trail in the state.
  • 2 0
 This Lunch Loop at #1 thing is weird. Hates it!!!
  • 1 0
 you hate lunch loops?
  • 2 1
 @rzicc: Love the loops actually! Hate the exposure on a global scale! It does make me wonder why it's considered number 1 out of all the other places to ride in CO though.
  • 1 0
 Everyone knows Alpine Tunnel from St Elmo is the best trail in Colorado. But I'll keep quiet about it.... :-)
  • 1 0
 @briceshirbach how many active Trailforks users in Colorado? How much would you pay me to double that number?
  • 2 0
 Don’t come. We’re closed.
  • 2 0
 See you in Fruita and I’m bringing a huge crew with me!

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