Warm Days, Cool Nights, Hot Trails.
Not so Wintery Winter Park – Town trails
Winter Park is a town located an hour and a half or 67 miles west of Denver. It’s an amalgamation of two towns with a history based on logging, ranching, and a railway tunnel. In 1948 the city of Denver decided to open a ski Resort (Winter Park Resort
) just south of the town that then became the City of Winter Park
. Confused? It's not that different from Whistler Mountain (the resort) being different from the town of Whistler. Winter Park itself sits at 9000ft so people unaccustomed to this elevation would be wise to take their time to acclimatize and not exert too much.
Our friend Greg Mazu, a resident and professional trail builder, has been encouraging us to come and visit for quite some time. We’re glad we did and got see what the town and trails have to offer! His company Singletrack Trails
has been involved in many projects in this area and throughout North America building and maintaining trails. Greg’s rightfully proud of the diversity and density of trails; many of which are accessible right from town with minimal or no driving.
For an overview map of the area check out the Chamber of Commerce resources
. Mountain biking opportunities are represented by two bike parks – Trestle Bike Park
at Winter Park Resort and Granby Ranch
Also in this area are 600 miles of Cross Country trails in 4 areas
– Elk Creek/Fraser West, Idlewild, Fraser Valley, and Granby XC area. We spent four days in this area and could have easily spent more. All these trail networks are supported by private landowners, Grand County and the towns of Winter Park, Fraser, Tabernash, and Granby. The only thing that might perhaps have been lacking in proximate access to high alpine epics (Winter Park is surrounded by Wilderness which in a quirk of US lawmaking is verboten for bike access).
In our opinion, Winter Park's strength is remarkable access – ie trails which required little to no driving to access. And for those of us coming from sea level, we can only get so epic.Winter Park West aka Tipperary Creek
We started exploring by riding from town in the area known as Tipperary Creek
or Winter Park West Side. This area has civilized access via a nice grade of a climbing trail and a variety of both fast, cruisey pedaling trails as well as some slow technical trails.
Joining us on this ride was Greg, our good friend Kevin from Grand Junction and Meara. Meara is with the Headwater Trail Alliance
, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to trails in the Winter Park Area. She does everything from grant writing to chainsawing out deadfall so watch out for her energy! This organization helps maintain 300 miles of trails in the Grand County area through Adopt-A-Trail programs, funding via USDA/Forest Service, BLM, Town of Winter Park, Fraser, Grand Lake, Chamber of Commerce, Grants, other public sources as well as Private Donations. Also joining us was Keith Sanders who owns a local bike shop (more on that below) and who is President of the local IMBA representative in the Grand Valley (GMBA – Grand Mountain Bike Alliance
) who also helps with trail advocacy and various trail days.
Most Colorado close-to-town trails are neutered of a technical challenge so it was surprising for us when we got to LeapFrog. This is a former social trail ie an unsanctioned trail that got adopted into the system. It's good to see the town allow some challenge in the bike trails.
The Winter Park West area is pretty much a perfect way to get a feel for the area and see the diversity of terrain and trail choices particularly for sea-dwellers looking to acclimatize. There’s always discussions about the various towns in the US trying to lay claim to the moniker BikeTown USA. Based on even this first taste of local trails Winter Park is a strong contender in terms of proximity. Literally, within five minutes pedal of town, you are on a legitimate singletrack of a decent size. Winter Park also wins in terms of diversity. The trails were interesting. The tech trails, in particular, demanded concentration and attention albeit without having the are-you-going-to-tomahawk nature of our home North Shore/Whistler trails.YANKEE DOODLE AND ARROW
The Yankee Doodle and Arrow areas are E and N of Winter Park. A shockingly long pedal, road pedaling 50m from Hideaway Park (just contiguous to the Hideaway Brewery) brings you to the trailhead where you can start climbing singletrack. After a pleasant ramble up the climb, you get up to a plateau where you can either head back to town or you can get into the Arrow Forest Service trail networks. These networks are well signed and used by many people during the weekend. They are also bi-directional so speeds can get high in the twisty-turny singletrack (fun!) so keep your heads up for other users.Where to stay, where to get bikes and some FOOD!
During our four days, we stayed at the Timber Run condos
in the Vista Building. This was booked through Stay Winter Park
; a rental agency for accommodations. It was well stocked if you want to cook. Ours was an older one bedroom unit with minimal bike storage but with the ability to keep bikes on the balcony. It’s an out of the way complex so we felt like it wouldn’t be prey to breaking and entering. Timber Run is about 1 mile from downtown Winterpark so it’s nice to have a car, but you could bike to two of the mountain bike areas from the town. Beaver Sports Shop
is the place to go to get quality bike rentals. For our trip, we were on Trek trail bikes both of which were immaculately maintained in top shape.
Apres-ride we usually ended up at Hideaway Park Brewery,
which is at the cusp of a trend of enthusiastic skilled small-scale breweries. Apres Beer at Hideaway was an ideal way to finish up the day. Andrew Brumenschenkel is the BrewMaster at Hideaway and was wise enough to locate right next to Fraser Valley Hot Dog
– a perfect complement to beer.