Access for eMTB’s, or more specifically, Class-1 pedal assist electric mountain bikes, remains a hot topic as of 2022. Following are a number of trails in our region where this new technology is currently allowed. Please note that many of our area’s singletrack trails are open to non-motorized use only, and eMTB’s do have electric motors that limit where they can be used. As with traditional bikes, and as clear signage may not be present, please research in advance of your ride to ensure you are riding legal and open routes for the type of bike you’ve chosen.
Some of the below routes range from easy to intermediate, but many are in the difficult or very difficult category. While it’s not a target of most dirt seeking eMTB riders, keep in mind that the 43 mile long Rio Grande Trail spans from Aspen to Glenwood Springs and provides a range of experiences from easy and short and (sort of) flat, to scenic, to long distance out and back challenges. Most, if not all, of the paved paths in the RF Valley are open to Class 1 e-bikes.
The City of Glenwood Springs allows eMTB use on all of the trails that they manage in full. This does not include the Forest Hollow or Boy Scout trails which are mostly on BLM land, but finish on City land. A few rides are recommended:
- Park at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. Ride on Olsen Trail, up Red Mountain Jeanne Golay Trail, and then flow and jump your way down the Grandstaff Trail. After returning via the Olsen Trail, extend your ride by taking in a figure 8 loop on the trails of Wulfsohn Mountain Park, including Vanderhoofin’ It, Defiance, and Stevie Bob. You’ll get about 18 miles and 3,000′ of climbing and descending if you add it all together.
- Park at South Canyon Trail System trailhead, just off I-70’s Exit 111 (one exit west of West Glenwood Springs). Climb up the Tramway Trail, continue up and up on the Coal Camp Trail, where you’ll start descending at the top of a lollipop shaped loop, descend the Lower Coal Camp Descent flow trail, keep the flow, rollers, and jumps going on the fast and long Lightning Bug descending only trail, and finally wrap it up by retracing your route on the lowest part of the Tramway Trail. About 9 miles and 1,600′ of climbing and descending for this route.
- Getting up into the Flat Tops area should be on every rider’s list. With an eMTB, big adventures are calling. The following ride takes in a combination of bike paths, gravel roads, paved roads, and challenging backcountry doubletrack roads, most of these routes are on the White River National Forest. A big adventure loop starts with pedaling to the east along the Colorado River on the Glenwood Canyon Bike Path. Next, find your way onto Coffee Pot Road to gain the Heart Lake area, before navigating your way down the Transfer Trail back to town. You’ll need to manage your battery carefully on this one and have solid navigation skills. Approximately 76 miles and 6,500′ of climbing and descending. Too much, or no time for an all day ride? Go for the Flat Tops Out and Back on the Transfer Trail from town, about 23 miles with 4,800′ of climbing and descending.
On Basalt Mountain, managed by the White River National Forest, you’ll find a series of worthy trails open to eMTB’s (as well as motos). Note that the popular trails to the south (Mill Creek, Basalt Mt. Trail, Cattle Creek Trail) are not open to motorized use. Lone Pine Trail, North Fork Trail, and Mile Post One provide plenty of options to connect on to the Red Table Road, the end of which is a great destination if you want to get above tree line for big views of the mountain ranges in all directions. To the north of Red Table Road you’ll also find the Green Gate Trail.
Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley Campus is opening new trails in 2022, and the public is welcome to come and check them out, including those on class 1 eMTB’s. Take a lap on Swoop’s Loop and the East Ridge Loop before heading up higher on the property to check out the Spring Valley Summit Trail, Dreamer, Battl’r, and a soon to be opened blue flow trail. These trails are designed for to function well for a high school mountain bike race series, and are sure to grow in popularity.
In the mid-valley, on the BLM’s Crown Special Recreation Management Area, you’ll find a big loop that is mostly singletrack that is open to motorized use, including eMTB’s. A majority of users on this route are traditional mountain bikers, not motorcycles. Start and finish your loop at the west lower end of BLM Rd. 8320. Turn left on to South Porcupine, continue on North Porcupine, Outie, Buckhorn, and finally Buckhorn Traverse, before taking the short and steep Buckhorn Traverse Spur up to BLM Rd. 8324. You can retrace your route for mostly singletrack out-and-back, or instead finish the big loop by climbing the eastern portion of 8324 up towards the top of the Crown, and then descend 8320 down to the Divide Parking Lot trailhead before descending Prince Creek Road back to the start of your loop. This loop is about 20 miles with 2,600′ of climbing and descending; a shorter loop is possible if you climb back up the western portion of 8324. Study the maps for this one, and try a the big loop, shorter loop, and out-and-back versions each time you return for more.
Between Basalt and Aspen, on the north side of the RF Valley you’ll find a number or high elevation routes to explore on Larkspur Mountain and Triangle Peak. A highlight is the eastern portion of the Arbaney Kittle Trail. Access its eastern end by climbing up Larkspur Mt. Road, and continue on Kobey Park Road and FS Rd. 513. A good adventure option in this area is to use FS Rd. 526 to gain the top of Mount Yeckel. Descend from the A-K Trail on the Red Rim Road, or mix it up by connecting earlier and heading west on the Red Canyon Trail.
Above Aspen you’ll find a number of classic high mountain routes to challenge your legs and reward your eyes. Riding above the tree line is rare on singletrack in this part of Colorado, but not on many of the following doubletrack routes. Climb Little Annie Road or Midnight Mine Road up to Richmond Ridge Road, travel your way to Taylor Pass to descend down Express Creek Road. Loop these roads in either direction in combination with Castle Creek Road. Also above Castle Creek Road you’ll find the famed Pearl Pass Road. Pearl Pass is better ridden from the Crested Butte side towards Aspen. A good loop to consider heads up Express Creek Road, rolls across Taylor Pass Divide Road, climbs up and then down from Star Pass on Trail 400 (a real highlight of the loop), and descends a bit further on Brush Creek Road before climbing up to Pearl Pass from the South. A couple of additional rides to consider north and east of Aspen: an out and back on Lincoln Creek Road to the townsite of Ruby (a long time locals favorite in the Independence Pass zone), and an up and down on Smuggler Mountain Road to visit the Warren Lakes area.
What does the future hold for additional eMTB access in this region? In short, it’s going to take time for public land managers to evolve current management for existing trails, and regardless, on many existing singletrack trail systems, eMTB’s are not expected to be allowed in the future. We’ll be sure to let our membership know when public comment or feedback is requested by local land managers, and we’ll update this page as management decisions are made that change allowance for, or further prohibit, eMTB’s. Read about RFMBA’s stance on eMTB’s in this 2019 statement.