Winter Park Mountain Biking, Part One: Town Trail Rides

Mar 23, 2017 at 15:12
by Lee Lau  

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.

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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.

Kevin Meara Sharon Greg and Weston joined us on our ride. Greg is carrying Weston so he can save Weston s paws on the slight downhill road cruise to dirt trailhead

Some fun optional play stunts on this two way trail - Sundog

Some fun optional play stunts on this two way trail - Sundog

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.

Natural rock features on Akima s way are probably left-overs from far gone glaciers. They re incorporated into the trail as options-

Most Colorado close-to-town trails are neutered of 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. 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.

Take D Leap - an additional trail linking back to town

Winter Park Strip with snow blanketing the 13000ft peaks


Winter Park Mountain Biking

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.

View towards town and toward the ski hill to the south

Ride down Arrow was fun and fast-

Final descent back to beer

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.

Timber Run Lodge

Timber Run Lodge

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.

Keith the shop owner and GMBA president his son and Skyler the head mechanic

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.

Apres-ride we usually ended up at Hideaway Park Brewery which is at the cusp of very well-received trend of enthusiastic skilled small scale breweries.

Sharon Kevin and Greg outside their natural habitat

Conveniently located next Hideaway is Fraser Valley Hot Dog a perfect complement to beer



MENTIONS: @leelau

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53 Comments

  • + 25
 Love seeing my summer spot on the home page Smile No bike park action though? Frown
  • + 10
 Part 2!
  • + 5
 Awesome write-up @leelau

I moved to winter park last summer and have yet to explore all the trails... the two bike parks pretty much keep me on the downhill bike, but this article definitely has me motivated to do some pedaling in 2017!
  • + 1
 It's kind of a nice change just to pedal right out of the door and be on trails. We have that in NV/Whistler so get a bit spoiled. Nice to see that happening also in Winter Park
  • + 4
 This is my hometown and you missed some of the best spots in the town;

Deno's Mountain Bistro
Hernando's Pizza
Rise and Shine Bakery
The Mountain Rose
Sharky's
Totally Wired Cycles (In Fraser, but they're basically the same)
Also, the few trails you hit in WP are a drop in the bucket to what's available there.

Decent write-up, though...
  • + 3
 Second on Rise and Shine and Mountain Rose. Also Totally Wired has our favorite java in the valley.
  • + 2
 sounds like you're the guy to know! this is my first year out here, when can i come up for the tour? Big Grin
  • + 2
 RIP to Fontenots. . . oh how I miss that shrimp Po Boy . . . .

I also miss watching Giants games upstairs at the Winter Park Pub w my Bloody Mary on Sundays. And the Jameson . . . and $1 Pabsts. . . I never should have left.
  • + 1
 @dsirl: why would you want to watch the Giants play when you're in CO?? Cuz the Rockies consistently suck?? ????
  • + 3
 I'm an 8 year straight pass holder at winter park/trestle, and also spend a fair bit of time at granby bike park and hitting the local singletrack. we are truly fortunate to have such an awesome ridding destination, just close enough to be close, yet just far enough to get away from the massed hordes flooding the front range trails.
  • + 4
 Nice write up! I have only ever been out there to ride park on my way through. Never knew there were trail systems for pedaling. I'll remember this next time I find myself out that way!
  • + 5
 Winter Park is Rad! But that video just teleported me back to mountain biking in 1994...
  • + 3
 @leelau - Super fun getting to ride with Greg and you guys last summer during your trip. Great to a see local trails write-up. Been a long winter so looking forward to getting back out.
  • + 0
 That was fun trying to follow you on the local lines.
  • + 2
 I've been DH'ing at Trestle/WP for YEARS now, and just bought a condo in "Old Town Winter Park" (Which you didn't mention btw. You've got to hit up Adolfs for HH.) Any way, I'm totally looking forward to hitting up all the local Trail this summer, on my non-DH'ing days. Thanks for the article, and make sure you come back this summer for DH at Trestle Bike Park, and Adolfs in Old town.
  • + 5
 Yo, so whens trestle opening
  • + 4
 June 10th
  • + 2
 Steamboat Springs.

I'm sure some may disagree with my selection of bike town usa. But we can at least all agree on the equation, real "town" + biking = bike park town.
  • + 5
 We could of hung out!
  • + 5
 Anyone who likes food as much as I do would be cool! Those hot dogs made me hungry again mmmm
  • + 2
 Did food service for 13 years only so I could be around food. Tourists scared me off it. Almost snagged a hot dog or two for lunch! Next time you head to Trestle holla!!!
  • + 1
 awesome place to ride, but having a local is really the only way to experience it. I've done it both ways and with a local is a much better experience.
  • + 2
 I broke a tree with my back here bombing down rainmaker last summer!!! love this place and how close it is
  • + 1
 Damn! My roomie broke his wrist, four ribs, and dislocated his shoulder last summer on rainmaker when he hit a tree during the air dh...
  • + 1
 @JarrodB: I was there 2 summers ago and this dude came over the rainbow (or whatever its called, large wooden hill) on rain maker but he hit it full throttle to flat and broke both his right side and left side of his collar bone and an arm and was knocked out for like 3 minuets before anyone found him! we had to shut down the trail till they could get him down the trail to the fire road!! guy took a nasty chunk out of a tree!...
  • + 2
 I love hitting these trails before the lifts open at the park!
  • + 2
 Is that the Tragically Hip for the soundtrack?
  • + 0
 Yup
  • + 1
 @leelau: Very cool!
  • + 0
 Never thought I'd see pictures of leap frog online not sure how I feel about it just happy they adopted it instead of closing it
  • + 3
 Ketchup?
  • + 2
 Most Colorado trails close to town are neutered? News to me!
  • + 3
 Probably should have said - "Some" Colorado trails close to town are neutered
  • + 2
 @leelau: there is nothing neutered about Dakota Ridge.
  • + 1
 I haven't lived here too long but 99% of the time when you hear about neutered/over crowded trails, your somewhere close Denver.
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