North American Bike Park Review Tour
Steamboat Springs Bike Park
Jewel of the Rockies
Photos by Dusten LaPointe
Located in northern Colorado’s beautiful Yampa Valley, Steamboat Springs is one of our favorite stops of the tour. The town sits in an absolutely beautiful setting, with rivers, lakes and geothermal hot springs complimenting the massive mountain peaks surrounding the valley. Part cowboy town, part ski/bike town, Steamboat Springs is a happening spot to visit and truly has something for the whole family.
As a precursor to our review of Steamboat’s bike park we want to begin by mentioning that Steamboat resort is currently installing a new gondola to serve the top of the mountain. Due to the major construction up top, our review and experiences shared here are only representative of the lower half of the mountain, which is served by the Christie Peak Express chairlift.
During fully operational summers, Steamboat Bike Park boasts 40 miles of trail that are sure to entertain and thrill. Riders can choose to take a lift to the top or pedal up one of Steamboat’s multi-directional trails. In fact we received lots of Instagram messages and feedback from locals that Creekside trail was one of their favorite trails and could be accessed via a pedal up the side of the park’s slope.
We didn’t see much uphill traffic or riders pedaling however many of the ones we did see were riding Trek Powerfly e-bikes, which the Steamboat Bike Shop has for rent. Without a doubt, the majority of riders at the park were enjoying the sights offered from the chairlift ride up to the halfway point. From this unloading point we spent 2.5 days riding and filming on mostly blue and green trails, which are what’s primarily found on the lower mountain. There are couple of black on the lower mountain which are more jumpy than technical, however we’d be lying if we said we didn’t have a lot of fun riding them.
Based on the quality and style of trail building found on the lower half of the mountain, we are actually counting down the days until we can get back there to ride the upper mountain. We’ve been riding bike parks all over North America, South America and Europe for a long time and we all agreed that Steamboat has probably got some of the best blue trails we’ve ever ridden.
As the park sits this year, a downhill bike is definitely not the right call for a trip to Steamboat, and we’re not quite sure if it’s necessary for the upper mountain trails either, so if you’ve got an aggressive 140mm bike or a 160/170mm set up you’re going to have a great time riding here. The trails utilize slope amazingly well, braking bumps are minimal and grade reversals help keep beginners off the brakes. Steamboat Bike Park is jibber’s playground. The trails urge you to practice nose bonks, long manuals over rolling terrain and fun little moves that rougher trails just don’t allow. Gunsmoke, Rustler’s Ridge, Cowpoke, Lickity Split and Wrangler’s Gulch are a few trails worth checking out and offer a nod to the town’s cowboy heritage.
If you’re a more skilled rider and looking to catch some airtime, be sure to visit Buckin’ Bronc as it was an absolute blast! We’d like to see a little bit of work done to make some of the landings a bit steeper, but it was the trail we ended every run on both days. It’s a high-speed jump line with overhead lips and the ability to catch landings from 35-40 feet out. Our computers showed us reaching speeds over 30 MPH as we boosted lips just above the bustling village below.
The amount of fun we were having on the bottom trails just made the upper mountain’s closure even more painful. No matter how fun a blue trail is the first few times you ride it, it’s gonna get old after a while and we found ourselves looking for more after the second full day of riding. The newness had worn off and we realized the park’s roughly 15 trails (many of which were closed due to the gondola project) weren’t enough to keep us there much longer. Although that may not be the case for some riders, we’d assume more beginner level folks, we’re just not sure that the top of the mountain offerings would be enough to keep us on the hill for more than three days. Lucky for us, there is a pretty awesome network of trails off mountain that will certainly push the limits for even the most experienced of riders. Get online, do a little research and you’ll find some epic trail zones with free camping right nearby. We spent a night there ourselves, just be sure to bring some mosquito repellant.