15 Mountain Biking Trails in Colorado For Beginners

Colorado has many mountain biking trails that you can choose from. What trails are the best and easiest for beginners? Advanced trails are not recommended for beginners. You could also be at risk of an accident if you’re new to mountain biking. Your confidence may be affected by this experience. Here are the best trails in Colorado that I recommend.

1. Zapata Falls

Because of the smooth singletrack, riding through Zapata Falls is very easy. You won’t get too tired because the trails are pretty level, not much of an increase in elevation at 350 feet. Mountain bikers who are just starting out will enjoy it. You can even bring your entire family.

You will be riding through pinyon pine and Juniper forests, as well as scrub oaks. There will also be some rocky sections that aren’t too long and easy to pass. The singletrack is maintained well and is made of hard-packed dirt. If you are looking to go fast, hard-packed singletrack will provide you with more pedaling power.

You have 4 loops to choose from. 2.5 miles of main loop includes segments from all 4 loops. Within all the loops there are 4 miles of trails which you can ride through and you won’t see the same thing. You can ride through smaller loops or bigger depending on the direction you travel.

You will be able to see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Great Sand Dunes as you travel along the Zapata Falls Trail. You rarely get to see mountains, dunes, and valleys on the same trail. Plus don’t forget the waterfalls.

2. Heil Valley Ranch

  • It is relatively easy to navigate the Heil Valley Ranch technically. It is a singletrack that is relatively wide. The path has a smooth surface for riding on. The trail will require you to exert a bit more effort, but it is not difficult. It is 847 feet higher than Zapata’s elevation of 350 feet.
  • Mountain biking will take you through meadows and pine forests. Dirt roads and singletrack will be encountered. With its smooth riding surface and 3 foot wide trail you won’t need to focus on the trail, you can relax, look around and enjoy the area you ride through.
  • The main loop, also known as the “lariat loop”, is approximately 8.1 miles in length. This loop contains the Lichen Loop and Wapiti Trails, as well as the Ponderosa Loop. Start riding on the Lichen Loop trail, which is a dirt track. This area is perfect for family gatherings. The loop does not include any bike-friendly sections.
  • As you travel Northwest on the Wapiti trail, the elevation begins to climb. After you’ve walked the trail for nearly 1 mile, it will become more flat. The trail will pass through a ponderosa-pine forest. The dense forest will cover you as you pass through the Ponderosa pine loop. This is a great place to be on sunny days.
  • You will find yourself at the bottom of the loop, and you’ll be glad to see the elevation drop. The downhill ride is on singletrack.

3. Betasso Preserve

Betasso Preserve offers a smooth, wide singletrack for beginners. In order to challenge you a little there are a few short hill climbs, but nothing you can’t handle. Hill climbs can be a refreshing change, as they take you up to 1200ft.

You can ride singletrack or doubletrack. It will be very easy because you’ll ride through forest terrain and also roll over beautiful open meadows. Even a hardtail mountain bike can ride on this smooth path with the packed earth.

The entire loop measures 7.3 miles. The Canyon Loop is a wide, flat singletrack that starts you. It is ideal for both adults and kids starting out, even children as young as 8-10 years old. The next technical challenge is the Benjamin Loop and the Link Loop.

In certain places, these loops can be sandy or rocky. As you move along, you’ll be able see Flagstaff as well as the Green Mountains. You’ll go through a mixed conifer forest. You will go up and then down until you reach a meadow filled with sage where you can rest, relax and eat.

4. Cheyenne Mountain State Park

  • Cheyenne Mountain State Park is the best place to start if you’re a beginner who wants to progress to the next level. Although the trail is relatively easy, there are some technical sections when you reach the Blackmer Loop or the Cougars Shadow Trail.
  • The most difficult sections are those that are more sandy and rockier. This terrain is often encountered when you ride through thick forests and low-lying open meadows. These sections are great for improving your riding skills and allowing you to take in the beauty of the outdoors.
  • This trail is 12.1 miles long, so endurance will be more tested. A few side trails offer short lariats. You will climb Pike Peaks Gravel as you start. This is a flat terrain because you are passing through low grasslands. You will enjoy a smooth ride on Talon Trail.
  • If you encounter a blind curve, be prepared because this is where you’ll find the more rockier sections. To get this section, you’ll need to be more skilled with your bike handling. It is possible to take it slower if needed. You will be able to get through it. The park’s highest point is 753 feet. It’s not difficult to reach, and the technical parts of it are quite short.

5. Bockman Campground Loop

The Bockman Campground loop is easy to ride, especially as it crosses a forest service road. This is pretty simple technically, you won’t need much bike handling skills. The 2 mile stretch that you will be climbing steadily uphill is where it gets difficult. You can reach 1200 feet.

You’ll encounter a wide variety of terrain including dirt roads, paved highways, and even tougher jeep tracks. You should ride the loop during weekdays when there is less traffic. Weekends can get crowded. Be sure to check for drainage dips, which are often used in place of ruts.

The entire loop is 19.9 miles. You will descend slightly the first mile, passing Nokhu Crags. Then you will see Seven Utes Mountain. You will also see a Christmas tree that is always decorated. You will then find the Moose Visitor Center.

You will now ride on a dirt road through a lodgepole pine forest. The area is home to at least 1000 moose. It has a proud past of logging. The trail will wind through thick forests, until it ends. You will then reach the 1 mile mark, where the trail climbs uphill. You will then ride flatly for 1 mile before it turns into a gentle descent.

6. Emerald Mountain (Back Side).

  • Emerald Mountain’s backside is ideal for mountain bikers new to the sport. It’s a smooth, singletrack that has no obstacles. It is well-known for its high flow factor for mountain bikers. Although this trail is difficult physically, it is easy to do as the elevation rises up to 2196 ft.
  • The solid packed earth will be your best friend, and it’s great for speed. The singletrack runs not in a straight line but is curved to the left and right. You’ll pass open meadows and oak trees as well as mixed conifer forests.
  • The loop is made up of three back-side trails that total 16.1 miles. This trail is a purpose-built system. It is generally quieter than the Emerald Mountain side. Start by riding the Beall Trail. You’ll know you’re on the right path when you pass a pond to your left.
  • There will be some switchbacks, but they are not too difficult to manage. You will reach 2 benches after 7.5 miles, which will offer you a spectacular view of Flat Tops Wilderness Area. The Ridge Trail is a steep descent on singletrack. The Rotary Trail is a trail that offers bramble oaks and sage-filled meadows. As you make your way downhill, there are many switchbacks.

7. North Fork Trail

Due to its high flow rating, the North Fork Trail is easy to ride. This singletrack has many turns and curves. There are some technically moderate sections that include more sandy terrain. It is long and steep, so it can be tiring. The elevation can reach 2523 feet.

There are many terrain options on the trail, including singletrack, doubletrack and some paved roads. For beginners, the singletrack and doubletrack trails will be easy to follow. But you won’t be bored as you ride along hillsides, in and out of forests, and on top of some sandy areas. You can expect to have a lot of fun while you cross small creeks.

The loop is a long lariat, measuring 20.3 miles. You’ll start by going North over narrow singletrack and continue through hillsides of the South Platte. In 2 miles, you’ll reach a thickly covered forest with mixed conifer and wild flowers. You will find singletrack that is rock-free and smooth.

Beautiful views of the Cathedral Spires will be your reward. You can also switch between singletrack and doubletrack, and back to singletrack. Hummingbird Trail will take you through some switchbacking terrain. For great views of Banner Peak and Kennedy Gulch, continue on Hummingbird Trail.

8. Canyonlands of Picket Wire

  • Picket Wire Canyonlands, a great trail for beginners who have some experience riding, is recommended. Because the trail is steeply rocky and sandy, the technical rating of this trail is moderate. It will be a downward-facing climb, ending at the top at 600 feet.
  • At first, you will ride on a doubletrack on a steep, rocky trail. You will find a dirt road once you reach the canyon floor. The tall stands of tall grasses, or vegetation, will be your obstacles. It is easy to ride the remainder of the route over mostly rocks and sand.
  • This trail does not have a loop. Instead, you must first ride out of the town and then return to your starting point. The total distance is 18.2 miles. The trail is located at 4660 feet above sea level, which is lower than other Colorado trails. The desert bottom is very hot and dry, so you’ll sweat a lot. Make sure you bring plenty of water.
  • You’ll be able see the Purgatoire River as you ride. Perhaps you want to get in. After four miles, you will be able to see the Dolores Mission.
  • Continue for another mile and a quarter to find the largest area in North America where dinosaur footprints were found. It’s amazing how far you can travel back in time. It’s possible to go back in time once you reach Rourke Ranch.

9. Falcon Trail

Technically, the Falcon Trail can be ridden easily. Some areas are more difficult than others, which increases the rating to moderate. For new mountain bikers, they are easy to navigate. You won’t need to puff too hard when the elevation reaches 734 feet.

This singletrack trail is located within the US Air Force Academy. You’ll ride on an open plateau. You will also find a shaded forest, which provides shade from the scorching sun. You’ll also encounter some dirt roads as well as cross over a few paved roads. You can avoid the 8.4 mile hike-a-bike section by choosing another route.

The loop measures 13.4 miles in length. This singletrack is smooth and fast at the beginning. You’ll pass through woods before reaching grasslands. The trail becomes more difficult as it climbs up and down switchbacks. The trail will eventually climb to a plateau.

On the plateau you will be able to see Air Force Academy’s chapel. You will experience more switchbacks as you descend from this point. You’ll need to handle some rocky, sandy terrain. You will see the Cadet Field House as well as athletic centers. Cross Academy Drive and you are finished.

10. Prince Creek Area

  • Although technically the Prince Creek Area is easy, there are some sections that are more difficult on this singletrack. These include curves and twists, slopes, as well as rockier areas. As the trail rises up to 1058ft, it is considered easy to moderate. This gradual rise is no problem.
  • Your ride will be on singletrack that is packed with dirt, which can sometimes be very narrow. You’ll ride through open meadows and pinyon-juniper woods, oak trees, stands of aspen, and along Prince Creek. You will be able to focus and get excited for what lies ahead with such a wide range of terrain. Take pictures.
  • This trail is ideal for beginners who don’t have a lot to run. It is 7 miles long and includes a loop. After climbing up dirt Prince Creek Road you will reach the Monte Carlo Trail. This is a more narrow singletrack. You will then reach the Skill Saw Trail, which runs right alongside the creek.
  • You will find primitive campsites in many locations. Father of Ginormous, a side trail that is only downhill, can be tried. Mount Sopris can be seen after about a mile. It has twin-peaks. You can descendhill once you reach the turnaround point. This will allow you to have fun and take in everything you missed on the way back.

11. Zippity Do Da Twist

Zippity Do Da Loop is best ridden by an intermediate beginner. There are steep grades and exposed slopes, so you need to be more advanced. To ride the steeper slopes, you will need to maintain a straight line.

The singletrack is smooth and flat and flows well. However, there are sometimes steep hills that require you to pedal up, down, and over them. It is almost desert-like terrain. It is physically easy, but mental focus will be required as you reach narrower singletracks that run along ridgelines.

The loop measures 8.2 miles. You’ll start by going on the Zippity Trail on smooth singletrack and on through sage-filled meadows. Kessel Run will be your destination. This is a singletrack trail that you must follow downhill. Next, you will find the Zip Off Trail. This trail is more curvy and flowy. It requires some skill in bike handling.

You will pass a dry creekbed after 2 miles. This is a very pleasant ride, especially as you get closer the Western Zippity Trail. The trail climbs slightly, with the highest elevation being at 1085ft. You can now see the Book Cliffs which is a mountain wall that rises to 2,000 feet.

You will be confronted with a narrow, ridgeline descent so save your energy for the end. Before you can enjoy the excitement, there will be several steep, sandy, and rocky drops.

12. Sand Canyon Trail

  • Sand Canyon Trail can be described as moderately difficult to easy because it is man-made. It is also maintained well. There are some switchbacks, and more rocky sections. It is physically easy as the elevation rises only to 1200 feet. The heat will make you tired, though the area is not entirely dry.
  • A singletrack will take you through dry desert terrain, twisting and turning. You will be riding on sand or slickrock terrain. To get the best grip, make sure your tires are properly inflated. Plus you’ll ride on hard-packed dirt and biological soil crust. The soil is also home to living organisms.
  • The trail is 7.2 miles in length. You can just ride out and return. You’ll start off by riding on slickrock, follow the stacked rocks as markers until you get to the wide singletrack. You will pass through pinyun-juniper and sagebrush. You will eventually find cryptobiotic crust which is a delicate living form.
  • You will see 4 Puebloan dwellings on the cliffs before you have ridden 3 mi. The turnaround point is located near the fourth cliff dwelling. You can expect to encounter steeper, rockier and sandier terrain. There are 30 switchbacks that you can twist your way through. You might be better off hiking it because it is so twisty. Then you can turn around to go back the way that you came.

13. Phil’s World

Phil’s World is considered to be an easy to moderate trail. Some sections of Phil’s World are rated average to difficult so beginners might want to avoid them. It is easy to moderate in elevation and requires some physical effort. As you climb up, be patient.

The trail is singletracked and is made of hard-packed dirt. You’ll pass through sage brush meadows, and into pinyun-juniper forest. Parts of the trail will be paved with sandstone. Sometimes you’ll ride in and out arroyos. These are steep-sided gullies which have been cut by running water. You can also ride in mesas, which is a raised area of land with flat tops.

The main loop measures 18.5 miles. It was created by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers. The loops can be ridden clockwise, but only in one direction. There are 28 miles total of trail. Start by riding through the pinyun forest. It is easy to follow the trail for the first couple of miles.

You’ll be able to see the San Juan Mountain Range to the East and the Mesa Verde National Park to the South. Lemon Head Trail has some moderately difficult sections. The Maze is next. Enjoy some fun twisty turns and narrow corners.

Beginning climbers might want to slow down once they get to the Elbow. There are rock drops and slickrocks which is the challenging terrain I mentioned earlier. The reward for overcoming these obstacles is a magnificent view of the La Plata Mountains.

The Maxxit (14 miles) is where you can go smooth and fast through bermed turns. Continue to the Rib cage for more fun with flowing trails and bermed turns. You can continue this for three miles until the end of your fun.

14. Ridgway Area Trails

  • Technically Ridgeway Area Trails is suitable for intermediate and advanced riders. Its flow factor is very high. It’s moderately difficult rating is due to its many switchbacks. The trail is moderately difficult. The elevation can go up to 1523 feet.
  • It is quite varied. The singletrack is well-packed and stable. You’ll enjoy three types of environments such as going through pinyun-juniper woodlands, mixed conifer trees, and open meadows. You will also find rolling hillsides with great views.
  • The main loop measures 17 miles long. The main loop is 17 miles long. You’ll climb the switchbacks along the Big Cheese trail. This trail is only for uphill mountain biking. It’s a smooth, flowing path that offers great views of Cimarron Ridge and the San Juan Range.
  • Next, you will reach the Speedy Gonzalez Trail which is where you can go quickly and easily. You will eventually reach the Ratical singletrack, which is flat and narrow and features some technical moderately rocky sections with bermed switchbacks. As you ride along this trail, Mount Sneffel is visible.
  • Plagueground is fast and exciting. You’ll be racing through meadows of juniper, sage and then continuing on to an old dirt road. The Rat Trap is the best part of this trail.
  • You will climb first to reach the top, then descend steeply and cross a narrow valley. You will reach the Maze at 16 miles and then go through a singletrack of rocky terrain. Then, stay to your right and you will be free.

15. Staunton State Park

Staunton State Park offers a technical trail that is easy to moderate. You may not wish to attempt the advanced sections, but it has some great areas for beginners. This trail is suitable for advanced beginners and intermediate mountain bikers. This trail is easy to moderately challenging, and the elevation climbs to 2300 feet.

This list has the most diverse terrain. It’s mostly singletrack, but there are parts that become doubletrack. You’ll ride through mixed conifer and aspen forests. You will also cross rocky creeks and weave through sandy switchbacks.

The main trail is 17.5 mi long, and it is a double loop. For shorter rides, the double loop has 2 out-and-back sections. You’ll start off with a slight climb on a smooth wide path. You’ll find it narrower and more rockier as you progress, with some switchbacks.

Next, you’ll ride the Marmot Passage trail through ponderosa pines on flat singletrack. You can see Lion’s Head Peak. Continue downhill to find switchbacks, rocky terrain, and more switchbacks.

You’ll enter a forest as you go on a dirt road. Soon, you’ll see Mount Evans or Meridian Hill. Next, you will find the Chimney rock Trail. This trail is intermediate in technical difficulty and is quite quick. The climb to the top is not easy, but it’s well worth it.

Summary

This list has been arranged in a way that is easiest for beginners to easier for more advanced mountain bikers. Start with Zapata Falls if you’re a complete beginner. It is one of the most popular Colorado trails. Next, you will find the Betasso Preserve and Heil Valley Ranch.

Technically, the trails have sections that are easier than others. However, advanced riders can still handle these sections. You are all different so have fun, be safe and enjoy riding.

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