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Local Secret Series: 5 Best Front Range Mountain Bike Trails

Joel Smith

When you think about mountain biking in Colorado, you’re probably visited with visions of remote, high-altitude trails crisscrossing the Continental Divide, sunny blue skies, and cool, thin air.

And you wouldn’t be wrong. Deep in the Rockies lies some of the world’s best riding.

But what most people don’t know is that within reach of the Denver metropolitan area are some of the best mountain bike trails in Colorado.

Since we’re located in the Denver metro area, we’ve tried out every known-trail in the area and done plenty of digging to sleuth out our lesser-known favorites. Below are our top 5 mountain bike trails in the

1. Dakota Ridge

One of the more easily accessed trails in Denver, Dakota Ridge will certainly test your technical skills.

The trail itself runs along the ridge between Red Rocks Amphitheater and the Thunder Valley MX track, and is both exposed and rocky for the majority of its length.


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Dakota ridge kicked my ass

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The best part about Dakota Ridge is that traction is typically good regardless of the time of the year. It’s also usually is clear of snow earlier than most trails on the front range. There is plenty to challenge you as well.

The climbs are steep and punchy, and the descents have many lines that appeal to both pros and amateurs alike.

2. Section 16 Trail

If you’RE down South of Denver, you need to hit up Section 16 trail in Manitou Springs.
Section 16 is best ridden as a loop with Palmer Trail from High Drive, and is generally ridden as a clockwise loop.

The climb itself is relatively easy (as the incline in the clockwise direction is gentle), but once you turn the wheels down hill, there is plenty of technical terrain to challenge you.

Loose dirt gives way to exposed rock formations and it’s pretty flowy. Also, the views of the city are amazing.

Fair warning: On the weekends, it can be highly trafficked by hikers, and there is occasional ice on the trail in early spring and late fall.

3. Pikes Peak Plummet

If you have a little extra time to do some riding, there is no better undertaking than to hit up the Pike’s Peak Plummet. It is a shuttle-serviced ride that starts 3/4s of the way up Pikes Peak on the Elk Park Trailhead.

The total ride takes about 3.5 hours from start to finish, and it connects just about every quality trail in the area on the way down.

Beautiful, flowing single-track through endless meadows dominates the top section, while the bottom section gets more technical.

One of the best parts is The Chutes. The Chutes is one of the more fun trails on the front range, with high berms that keep the flow going.

4. Island in the Sky Trail

Island in the Sky Trail is a little far afield for Front Range trails, about an hour south of Colorado Springs. But this trail stands out to us for a number of reasons.

It stays reasonably dry during the winter months and was purpose built for mountain bikers. And all the trails have excellent flow, and the trail builders did a great job interspersing technical challenges into the trial network.

The highlight? The incredible views from Island in the Sky.

5. Floyd Hill


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Big bikes are still weird. New downhill trail from @flowrideconcepts is incredible.

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Floyd Hill is a new trail system that opened in the summer of 2018. The trailhead itself starts at a pretty high elevation, nearly 8,000 feet, which makes it nice and cool when Denver summer temperatures are hitting triple digits.

The trails in Floyd Hill are not directional, but your best bet is to ride them clockwise from the lot on Lower Loop. This keeps you in the shade during the climbs and provides the most downhill once you reach the ridge.

The Front Range is a Mecca for mountain bike riding, with plenty of hidden gems still to be discovered. If you add in the more popular destinations, like White Ranch and Apex, there are hundreds of miles of singletrack within an hour of Alchemy’s Denver headquarters.

If you’re coming out our direction, make sure you stop in for a beer and a factory tour. We have a full showroom and a wide selection of demo bikes ready for your arrival.

But before you head off to tear up the trails, don’t forget these 5 essentials »


Alchemy’s Joel Smith has been riding mountain bikes for over 35 years. Starting out in the dirt on a converted Laguna-brand cruiser in the mid-1980s, his immediate love of the sport turned into a lifelong career. Smith raced both XC and DH in the 1990s (in the now defunct NORBA National Series) and has worked on nearly every aspect of bike development over his nearly 30-year long career.

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