Does the idea of a whole season sans spinning the cranks and wearing padded shorts make you dreary? If so, head to Leadville and ride your heart out all winter at 10,000 feet on the extremely fun Timberline Trail system. It’s easy to access from town and ideal for all ability levels,
Groomers usually smooth out these pine-lined singletrack routes made specifically for fatbikes on Sun, Tues, and Thurs afternoons/evenings (though we’ve found this may or may not happen). Mid-morning rides are best, since the trails have softened a bit but are still firm enough for traction. Though we outline a six-mile loop starting and ending at CMC, you can easily extend your day by adding a multitude of side loops and/or by combining this ride with other groomed trails in the area including the Historic East Side Mining District and the Mineral Belt Trail. Plus, the entire system rides well in either direction, so you can truly choose your own adventure.
Details: For more information, visit Cloud City Wheelers (cloudcitywheelers.com) and Cycles of Life (colbikes.com).
Get There: To reach the trailhead from the Front Range, take exit 195 from I-70 W. Take CO-91 S to US-24 E to Leadville. Pass through town and turn left onto Co Rd 41/College Rd. After skirting campus, turn left and park along the road leading to CMC.
- Ride back a few yards to find a small gate on the right (east) side of the road. Pick up the singletrack here and begin climbing through the woods on the Boulders Trail, a moderate 1.1-mile climb flanked by tall pines.
2. Cross the Mineral Belt Trail and continue south through a trail junction (#6) along the Boulders Trail.
3. At a junction with Slip and Slide, turn left (northeast) to continue climbing gently upward. The two-mile trail reaches its apex and then begins a fun, flowy, mile-long descent through tight trees.
4. Reach the bottom of a thrilling hill and a series of fun curves. Turn hard left (southwest) onto a portion of the Boulders trail you have already ridden.
5. At the junction with Giddy Up, turn right to head southwest and downhill into more shady lodgepoles.
6. After enjoying this exciting cruise downward, turn left (south) onto And Again, which floats through the trees over rolling terrain, climbing gently in spots and flying over whoop-de-doos in other spots.
7. Turning north and then east, this small loop intersects with Where the Heck Am I?, another short, twisty loop that flies south and then turns hard north to tackle fun, flowy terrain.
8. Upon returning to the junction, continue straight (north) through it. Cross the Mineral Belt Trail and follow the sweet singletrack as it winds wistfully through the forest.
9. Pick up Perma Grin, a trail sure true to its name that turns hard left (northwest). It’s sweet downhill slope allows you to haul through the snow at astounding speeds.
10. Slow down long enough to notice a spur trail curving to the right. Pick this up to skirt campus and return to your car.
Diamondback El Oso
Exhilarating trails like these deserve the right bike. With a smooth-shifting 2×10 drivetrain, lightweight aluminum frame, high-volume/low-pressure tires and a 100mm travel fork, this baby will power over whatever nature throws your way. $2,300; diamondback.com
Oveja Negra Super Wedgie
Conditions change quickly in the mountains, but you’ll always be ready thanks to this Colorado-made frame bag that turns your bike’s triangle into a storage compartment. Stow bulky items like a jacket or beefy gloves in the main compartment and smaller essentials like tools, maps, and phone in the full-length flat pocket. Plus, every bag made by Oveja Negra is designed, tested and manufactured by a small team of cyclists and talented sewers right here in Salida, Colorado. $90-100;ovejanegrathreadworks.com