MTB Destination: Eagle

Just 30 miles west of Vail and pleasantly perched at 6,600-feet in elevation, Eagle is quickly becoming a must-ride mountain bike destination. Much of that is thanks to its mild micro-climate Desert too hot? Head to Eagle. Mountains too wet? Ditto.

“We get the early season dry-out while the high mountains are still snowed in,” says Yuri Kostick, mountain bike advocate, landscape architect and town mayor. “Our trail season opens April 15. And, when it gets too hot in places like Fruita and Moab, Eagle is the perfect place to come.”

Don’t act surprised. Eagle is no stranger to mountain biking. Local riders began cobbling together a network of trails more than 20 years ago. Rides such as “Dead Cow” and “Mike’s Night Out” reflect the realities riders have faced and the rugged spirit that keeps them coming back for more.

Today 110 miles of singletrack loop, weave, and wend their way through, around and beyond town. The trails at Eagle Ranch will appeal to beginners, as does Haymaker, a 6-mile loop built in 2013 to host the Colorado High School Cycling League’s state mountain bike championship.

It’s not all cross-country riding, either. Downhill aficionados can get their kicks on the professionally rebuilt Pool and Ice Trail accessed from the top of Bellyache Ridge. And, epic rides beckon riders to trails west of town. Best of all, every trailhead is within pedaling distance of downtown.

This spring mountain bikers will get a chance to know Eagle’s trails even better during the Eagle Outside Festival, held May 15-17 ( Endurance athletes can test their mettle on Sunday, May 17 during the Firebird 40, an early season ultra race that, according to promoters, features “40ish miles of some of the best that Eagle’s backcountry can throw at ya.” If cross-country racing 13 miles is more your thing, you will want to check out Saturday’s Firebird short course.

The weekend line-up also includes skills clinics, a “lo-fi chainless DH” race, a trail running race, yoga in the park, a kid zone, music and one of the biggest mountain bike industry demos anywhere. “The demo is insane,” Kostick says. “All the big names are here. You can ride straight from the demo to the trail and back. You can do it five times a times a day, if you want.”

If you miss the festival, you can pick up your guide to riding in Eagle at the town’s only bike shop, The Mountain Pedaler, located at 101 E. 2nd Street, 970-328-3478.

—Carol Busch

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