The seasons are changing in Summit County and as the snow slowly disappears and the aspen trees and wildflowers begin to bloom, it’s time to hang up the skis and break out the bikes. Gone are the days of bundling up to keep the cold out as we transition from winter to the sunny and warm days of springtime in the Rockies.
While the warmer weather and longer days of spring are a welcome change from the short and cold days of winter, spring also brings melting snow — and mud. Thankfully, Summit County has an abundance of trails that are either paved or situated in the bright sun allowing them to dry out before others.
Getting your bike ready to roll after storing it all winter is just as important as knowing where to ride. So, read on and find a few quick tune-up tips that will get you out on the trails in no time at all. Whether you’re a beginner looking to explore some of the County’s paved paths or an expert looking to get in riding shape before summer, there’s no better time to get your bike tuned up and find the springtime trail in Summit County for you.
Finding a Trail during Spring
One of the best ways to get your wheels rolling during the spring is to ride the numerous paved paths, also referred to as “Recpaths,” throughout Summit County. These paths are the perfect place for beginners to get the hang of their bike before venturing onto the dirt trails. They’re also an excellent way to get your legs in shape while you wait for the dirt trails around the County to dry out. Click here for a map of all the paved Recpaths in Summit County.
Upper Blue Recpath
The Upper Blue Recpath is one of the more popular paved paths in the County and links the towns of Breckenridge and Frisco. This path follows the Blue River as it carries snow melt from the peaks surrounding Breckenridge to Dillon Reservoir. This is a family-friendly path that offers an excellent way to take in the sights of Summit County during a warm day. This Recpath is nine miles one way and is usually completed as an 18-mile round trip. This trail offers outstanding views of the Tenmile Range and some of the best introductory biking around.
Closer to Breckenridge, this trail follows the Blue River as it bubbles by offering numerous opportunities to stop for a rest by the river where you can take in the views. If you are looking to enjoy a tasty micro-brew or Colorado-inspired cocktail during your ride, you can swing through Broken Compass Brewery or Breckenridge Distillery, both just a half mile off the Upper Blue Recpath. This trail is uphill from Frisco to Breckenridge, so if you want to ride downhill on your return, start in Frisco.
Dillon Reservoir Recpath
The most popular Recpath in Summit County also offers some of the best views as you circle Dillon Reservoir. This Recpath is an 18.5 loop with a few moderate climbs that make it less than ideal for families with young children or bike trailers. However, the first section of the path from the Frisco Marina to the Dillon Marina is easier and passes through small rolling hills providing superb views of Dillon Reservoir and the surrounding mountain ranges. Near Swan Mountain Road is when the path climbs a moderate hill before becoming more strenuous for 3 miles as it ascends multiple switchbacks before reaching Sapphire Point. Sapphire Point is a perfect place to rest while you take in the picturesque setting of Dillon Reservoir in the center of the towering mountains surrounding Summit County. This is a wonderful trail for those looking to spend close to a full day riding a Recpath. Be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks!
Lower Blue Recpath
This section of the Blue River Recpath follows the Blue River from where it emerges from Dillon Reservoir through the Town of Silverthorne. You can connect this trail with the Dillon Reservoir Recpath by biking a few steeper switchbacks, or you can start your ride at the Silverthorne Ballfields and avoid the first mile. The path is a shorter trail, travelling three miles from the ballfields to North Pond Park as it meanders through Silverthorne along the Blue River. The river is wider here than in Breckenridge and numerous parks and picnic areas can be found along the trail. Red Buffalo Café is located right off the path, and its porch is a great place to enjoy lunch. Fewer cyclists and hikers are encountered on this trail as opposed the Summit County’s busier bike paths between Frisco and Breckenridge and around Dillon Reservoir. You will most likely encounter some fly-fisherman on the Blue River trying their luck to hook a trophy trout as you take in the sights of the Gore Range to the west.
Finding Dry Dirt during Mud Season
For those looking to get off the paved paths and get their mountain bikes a little dirty during spring, there are several mountain biking trails in Summit County that dry out sooner than others. Be sure to check the conditions of the trails before embarking so you do not damage the trails for future use. Breckenridge posts local mountain biking trail conditions on their website, and many trails have a “Mud Meter” at the beginning of the trail that users can change to alert others to the overall muddiness of the trail.
The Flume Trails typically dry out before many of the other trails around Breckenridge and are a great early-season option. Located just outside of Breckenridge, these trails are perfect for intermediate riders. The flumes are essentially ditches used to transport water during Breckenridge’s mining days. They no longer carry water to mines, but now provide excellent paths for mountain bikers. Recent clear cutting operations in the area help to protect the area from forest fires and offer a great way to enjoy the views of the Tenmile Range and Breckenridge Ski Resort across the Blue River Valley. Remember to be aware of other trail users and move to the side of single track trails when you stop to bask in Breckenridge’s lodgepole pine forests, aspen stands and magnificent meadows.
Keep an eye out for relics from Breckenridge’s past scattered along the trails like the bright yellow abandoned antique snowmobile called “Old Yeller.” These pieces of Breckenridge’s rich history often reflect the harshness of creating a life high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and they also act as trail markers. You can turn many of the Flume Trails into loops, and there are numerous offshoot trails to be ridden. If you are unfamiliar with the Flume Trails area, bring along a trail map (download map here) or download the Mountain Bike Project App by clicking here. This is a great mobile application that allows you to pinpoint your location while you’re on the trail (no cell phone service required) and lists nearly every trail in Summit County.
Frisco Peninsula Lakeshore Loop
The Frisco Peninsula Lakeshore Loop is an excellent early-season mountain bike trail that loops around the Frisco Peninsula and along the shore of Dillon Reservoir. While much of this 5.7-mile trail follows a relatively easy path along the lake shore with a few small climbs, the end of the route has a steep incline before dropping back down to the parking area. A serene stop along the shores of Dillon Reservoir while riding this loop affords views of Buffalo Mountain to the northwest as you soak your feet in the cool snow runoff that fills Dillon Reservoir. Buffalo Mountain is home to Silver Couloir, one of the 50 classic ski descents in North America. There is heavy hiker traffic along the Frisco Peninsula Loop, so be cautious and courteous to other trail users.
Blair Witch Trail Loop
The Blair Witch Trail Loop is a great early season 3.3-mile trail that includes a portion of the Colorado Trail and a fun local-favorite trail called Blair Witch. This trail is so fun to ride that it is hard to force yourself to take a break! However, if you do need to fuel up mid-ride, the large meadow you encounter about halfway through is a great place to soak in the sun and see a few wildflowers starting to bloom during the spring. This trail is ranked as one of the easier mountain biking trails in the Breckenridge area and is clearly marked to keep newer riders on the trail heading in the correct direction. When summer comes around and the rest of the area’s trails dry out this trail can be used to access Keystone’s trail system from Breckenridge.
Now, Get your Bike Rolling
Now that you know how to find the early-season trails, let’s make sure your bike is ready to roll into the spring. While many people choose to take their bike to a bike mechanic for a full tune before the season starts, if you are itching to get out on the trails and don’t have time to wait for a full tuneup, follow these quick maintenance tips.
Checking your Tires
After taking your bike out of storage, it’s important to start by looking at the bike to ensure nothing was damaged while it was stored away for the winter. One of the first things to check is the tire pressure. If one or both of bike tires is flat, it may be time to replace the tubes. However, if they still have air in them, you can probably get away with a quick top-off before you hit the trails. Look at the tread on you tire and decide if it might be time to invest in some new tires; after all, your ties are the only thing keeping you rolling.
Cleaning Up your Ride
Were you just as excited to break out your ski gear last year as you are to get your bike out this spring? Maybe you neglected to clean your ride before you stored it away for the winter? Then it’s time to break out the bike wash, hose and microfiber towel. Remember, not only does a clean bike look better, it performs better too. Start by knocking off the big chunks of dirt and then spray your bike down with bike wash. Give it a quick scrub with a sponge if needed and gently spray it off with a hose or pour a bucket of water over it. Don’t use a pressurized nozzle to wash your bike as it can force water into your gears and other places it shouldn’t be. Wipe down your bike with a micro-fiber towel to ensure it doesn’t rust. Be sure to apply chain lubricant after you are finished to avoid that awful squeaking sound as you peddle.
Checking your Brakes
Before you hop on your bike for the first time, make sure you will be able to stop yourself by checking the tension of your brakes. If you have an older bike that uses a cable system you may need to tighten the cable if your tension is weak. (Check out this “how-to” video on adjusting brakes.) If you have a high-performance hydraulic brake system, pump the brake lever a few times to build pressure in the system. If your brakes still do not have enough pressure, you may need to bleed the brake system. (Here’s a video on bleeding brakes.) Your brakes will need to be bled every couple of years and depending on how you stored your bike during the winter, you may develop bubbles in the hydraulic system causing the system to have insufficient pressure. Have a professional bleed your brakes if needed.
Now that your bike is tuned and you know where to find some dry trails, it’s time to get out there and get after it! Remember that it’s early in the biking season, so try not to injure yourself early in the year so you can enjoy a complete season. Above all else, have fun! And if you want to stay at one of our bike-trail friendly properties, give us a call at (800) 383-7382 or check out our properties online.
What’s your favorite biking trail in Summit County? Please leave your suggestions in the “Comments” section below.