Mud on the trails…wildlife closures…resort construction… all this stuff might leave you wondering where can we actually go riding right now in Eagle County, CO? Well, the short answer is: a lot of places!
Biking this time of year is game of timing and location. Let those trails dry out, but don’t wait too long into the afternoon to hit the dirt or you’ll probably get caught by that next storm or miss your window completely. Similar to spring skiing, you have to play the aspects. Many south facing trails melted off fully months ago, and tend to dry in a matter of hours after local rain. North facing trails above 10,000’ are still weeks from being ready. East and West aspects can run the complete spectrum between these.
With all that in mind, what’s actually open and closed in the Vail Valley?
The resort trail-systems at Vail and Beaver Creek Resorts are still largely closed due to mud and snow, and wildlife closures, but look for those to start coming online as the weather improves this month and lift-access begins. Check for updates at Beaver Creek Trail Updates and Vail Mountain Trail Updates. Although we’ve continued to get snow and rain above 11,000 ft, many of the lower trails at Vail Mt are open for the GoPro Games on June 4th-7th. The Lower Vail Mountain roads and Henry’s Hideaway singletrack are currently riding great!
Wildlife closures are still in effect for a few weeks up to one month on many of the Vail Valley trails, ending on June 15th or July 1st. The US Forest Service has adopted these closure periods on the recommendation of our state wildlife agency, CPW. Deer and elk come into calving season with little energy reserves in terms of body fat and healthy muscle and new calves don’t yet have the strength and endurance to quickly move away from people and our fast four-legged friends. A startling encounter with a biker, hiker, or a dog that causes an animal that is already in poor body-condition to rapidly flee under exertion, can result in increased physical vulnerability and even the animal’s death in some instances. Let’s give these guys the space they need right now. US Forest Service / White River National Forest Updates
Trails with wildlife closures include the North Trail and Son of Middle Creek in Vail until June 15th, and Two Elk Trail, Whiskey Creek, Stone Creek/Paulie’s Plunge, and Elkhorn until July 1st.
Just visiting the valley or only moved here recently and you have no idea where these trails are? Don’t sit around watching re-runs of last year’s Red Bull Rampage on YouTube, go grab a map at a local bike shop this afternoon and start scoping your local rides.
So that brings us to the main point: where to ride now (as in: TODAY, JUNE 6!) At this time, we’re looking at the Avon/Singletree areas as the primary up-valley venue, and thankfully, pretty much everything down valley in Eagle, CO is good to go (and has been for quite awhile).
The 13 miles of new singletrack in the West Avon Preserve will keep you going for that after work fix of 45mins to 1.5 hrs. From the west side of the WAP, hop onto June Creek and then Forest Road 717 and you can connect over to Berry Creek and back to easily get over 2 hrs+ without ever leaving town.
For a primo tour of just the newer stuff, Jump on ASC (Avon-Singletree-Connector) at either the Metcalf or June Creek Rd trailheads. Take ASC halfway across and climb Saddleridge Trail to turn left at PB&J (Pumps,Berms & Jumps – formerly Playground Way) A quick fast descent and short climb will deposit you at O’Neal Spur Pocket Park (“the playground”) in the Wildridge neighborhood. From here, jump on the hard road for a few hundred yards to get over the ridge and drop into June Creek on Forest Road 717-1B. Head down towards June Creek Rd and look for the turn to Wild West on your left soon after. Gain the ridge and enjoy the fast descent back to ASC. Don’t forget to look up and check out the ridiculous views of Beaver Creek, Mt. Jackson, and New York Mountain across the valley (just don’t take your eyes off the trail too long!). Now head back over to Saddle Ridge for a second climb (look for another climbing option to open early summer-ish 2015 on Wyse Way). This time, turn right on PB&J and ride a hundred yards over to Lee’s Way. Drop your seat, pump up the T-Swift in your ear buds, and enjoy the valley’s best flow trail all the way back to ASC. Throw the biggest air you can while passing your self-proclaimed-semi-professional-photographer bro who’s filming your sick 2015 GoPro Games edit down on the lower the jump line at BLT. If you’re lucky, you’ll might see me throwing my best move too; I call it “Offside-Flail-to-Eat-Sh..-Hard”. Be sure to post your trail photos & updates at Vail Vally Mountain and Vail Valley Mountain Bike’s website.
If you’re leaning towards Eagle for the day, all systems are open and snow-free. Anytime the rain holds off for half a day and the sun does its magic for a few hours on the trail tread, you’ll be rewarded with a fresh dose of super-tacky hero-dirt on Pool & Ice Rink, Redneck Ridge, and World’s Greatest. Need short and sweet? Spin a few at the Eagle Ranch Loops. Working on your basemiles? Download a copy of the coursemap for the Firebird40, which has been postponed until Saturday June 13th and go blow yourself out on 37 miles and 7,800 ft of climbing. Now that you’re ripped, get out there and prove it: log-out of your dang Strava profile and try interacting with some real riders by signing up for the actual real-life race in two weeks. Personal recommendation: Abrams to Scratch to Catwalk to Easy Rider, crank back up FSR 8384, head down World’s and finish out over School House Rock. (Look for that last little butt-kicker climb on School House back to the trailhead to get re-routed this summer by Hardscrabble Trails Coalition for a more-friendly finish from World’s Greatest. Still need more intel, be sure to check out Mountain Bike Eagle’s website: https://mountainbikeeagle.com
Of course, if you’ve already hit all this multiple times and you just need to get it out of your system, Independence Pass opened last weekend and A-basin is still turning chairs (anybody remember a little something called ‘skiing’?) Also, there’s this little place a few hours West that has a few bike trails, I think it’s called…