Biking, whether mountain or road, extreme or mellow, is one of the highlight activities in Vail. It’s a fantastic way to get out into nature, off the beaten path and explore the mountains and town. And don’t worry about bringing your own bike – bike rentals for all levels and sizes are readily available at one of Vail’s many rental locations!
We’ve checked in with the local biking scene and gathered top recommendations for mountain biking, road biking and everything in between. Find your perfect biking adventure below!
Favorite Mountain Bike Rides
From the unmatched on-mountain views to the adrenaline rush you get riding down a mountain; mountain biking in Vail will take your summer vacation’s adventure to the next level. Whether pumping up the mountain to the reward of a fast downhill or just enjoying a downhill after taking the Gondola up, the sense of satisfaction of a mountain bike ride is hard to match. These are our favorites!
Tip: If you have never been mountain biking on mountain single track trails, we strongly suggest starting off EASY. Once you are comfortable with gravel roads, then venture to our easier mountain bike trails and progress from there.
Eagle’s Nest to Lionshead or Mid Vail to Vail Village (Rating: Green Road)
This is the longest, but most mellow route for beginner mountain bikers on Vail Mountain. Take Gondola One or the Eagle Bahn Gondola up with your bike and follow the winding gravel roads as they traverse and descend the mountain. Either route is about seven miles long, and you’ll be rewarded with some beautiful views along the way of Vail Mountain, the town and Gore Range.
- Route from top of Eagle’s Nest: Follow Post Road to Cub’s Way to Gitalong Road into Lionshead Village
- Route from Mid Vail: Follow Mill Creek Road all the way into Vail Village
Golden Gate on Vail Mountain (Rating: Green Single-track)
One easier “single-track” trails on Vail Mountain, and a favorite for those newer to mountain biking or looking to improve their skills. Access Golden Gate by hauling your bike up Gondola One and riding down Mill Creek Road (or for an extra challenge, follow the Side Kick single-track trail) to the bottom of Chair 10. Or, if you have the lungs and endurance, ride up Gitalong Road to Mill Creek Road from Vail village to the base of chair 10 (about 4 miles and 1,300 vert).
Once at the base of Chair 10, you’ll see the entrance to Golden Gate just to the west of Chair 10 base (don’t confuse it will South 6 Escape, an easy double track).
Golden Gate is smooth and flowy, as it descends 1,000 vertical through Golden Peak. Fast straightaways through stands of aspens and fun whoop-dee-doos keep it interesting. The trail is a wide single-track with some fun twisty sections and bermed sides. The trail crosses Mill Creek road and few times, giving you the option to bail out of the trail onto the road if needed. Finish right near the top of the beginner Chair 12 lift at Golden Peak and head back to the gondola for another lap. Trust us, you’ll want to do it a second time!
Radio Flyer on Vail Mountain (Rating: Blue)
Accessed from the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, Radio Flyer is a fun, fast, flowy intermediate single-track. It’s a buttery smooth trail, winding from Eagle’s Nest down through Vail’s lodgepole pine forests. A large majority of the rocks and roots have been removed, leaving an endless series of rollers and banked corners to play on. If you’re feeling confident, take the Lower 9 Line and/or Mane Lane expert single-track options towards the end of the trail. All end at the base of Lionshead village, where you can head back up the Gondola for another lap!
Grand Traverse on Vail Mountain (Rating: Blue)
The 8-mile Grand Traverse trail is famous among Colorado mountain bikers and one of Vail’s signature intermediate trails. It starts just south of the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola and weaves through Game Creek and Sun Down Bowls with sections of forest and wide-open single-track. The trail starts easy and then hits you with some challenging climbs as you gain 2500+ ft. of elevation along the way. It’s well worth the effort for the views of the Sawatch Range, Mount of the Holy Cross and beautiful wildflowers! The trail is often ridden as an out and back, but can be extended by taking one of the off-shoot trails you’ll encounter along the way, including Cougar Ridge (into Minturn) or MidVail Escape to Side Kick to Golden Gate (down the front side of Vail Mountain). For a truly epic mountain bike day, ride the 7-miles UP Vail Mountain from the base the village before connecting with the Grand Traverse.
The North Trail (Rating: Intermediate)
On the south side of the Valley, the North Trail offers several mountain biking options, depending on where you begin and end, as well as which direction you choose to ride. A favorite route is the western half, riding east to west (tougher climb, but faster down). But it’s good either way! Park at Buffehr Creek Road to start up an easy, smooth, gradual ascent through deep aspen forest. (Stay left at the 1st fork). It’s thick and lush with lots of wildflowers and is a good single-track climb for about 2 miles. Arrive at the top of the climb to a meadow with one of the best views in the valley, stretching from the Gore Range all the way to the Holy Cross Wilderness and Holy Cross. Start the descent with well over a mile of gradual turns through beautiful aspen forests. Enjoy switchbacks and a really nice, rolling trail through aspens and flowers. Arrive at a dirt road and head left for a quick escape to West Vail and back to your car.
Buffehr Creek Trail (Rating: Difficult)
One of the more difficult rides (8+ miles) for more experienced mountain bikers, Buffehr Creek Trail can be ridden from the Lost Lake Trailhead (drive and park one vehicle there) or from the bottom of Red Sandstone Road (option to park a 2nd vehicle here).
If riding from the bottom, cruise up Red Sandstone Rd for 2,200 vertical feet over a couple miles until the road forks. Stay left on Red Sandstone Rd, drop a couple hundred vertical and cross Red Sandstone Creek. The road gently climbs some more over the next few miles. Eventually you reach forest service road 734. It’s the first and only option to turn left since you crossed the creek and is marked as “Red and White Rd” or “Bufferhr Creek Rd”. Follow this road through active logging until you get to a large clearing with great views. After a great view of an old cabin on a meadow, you’ll turn left. Keep a sharp eye on the left side of the road and find the Buffehr Creek Connector that climbs uphill. Follow it until you reach a road and turn left. About two miles down the road the single-track begins. It’s obvious and the only trail you’ll have seen. The trail plummets down the aspen-covered slope directly across from Vail. Enjoy the fast, fun ride on a quite steep trail before it ends at the intersection with the North Trail. Turn left (east) for another mile of single-track that will eventually take you out to the road to head back to your car.
Favorite Road Bike Rides
If a paved path is more your speed, there are plenty of paved trails that provide opportunities to get your blood pumping or enjoy a cruise while taking in the views. Bike rentals of all sizes, including E-Bikes, are available throughout Vail Village and Lionshead.
Tip: Even if you’re just headed out on a paved bike trail, be sure to prepare for changes in the weather. Be sure to dress in layers and always pack a rain jacket. And, lots of water, snacks and sunscreen are a must!!
Vail Pass Bike Path (Rating: Difficult if riding up; Intermediate if riding down)
Cyclists seeking a paved off-road route through spectacular mountain scenery will find just that on the epic Vail Pass Bike Path. The entire Vail Pass bike path runs along I-70 and connects Vail to Copper, and the entire route covers 14.2 miles (one way) and 1,500 feet of elevation gain. But, there are a few ways to tackle riding Vail pass, ranging from easy to more challenging.
The ultimate challenge and most typical route is to ride from Vail up to the Vail Pass summit, sitting at a cool 10,554 feet. From the Summit, if you don’t feel like riding on into Copper, turn around and it’s all downhill back into Vail. Or go for the full experience and ride down into Copper and then turn around and ride back up to the summit before enjoying a rip-roaring ride down into Vail. Another option is to ride from Vail Village or Lionshead, adding miles and elevation, of course.
Not ready to conquer the uphill climb of Vail pass, there are options to just enjoy the fun of the downhill ride! Several Bike outfitters will escort you and your bikes by shuttle to the top of the pass for an exhilarating ride down. These guided tours are a one-stop shop and includes bike rental, transportation, helmet and area map.
The trailhead for the pass is located East of Vail, where Bighorn Road ends. To reach the northern trailhead east of Vail, take Exit 180 from I-70 and travel east for 2.3 miles on Bighorn Road. You’ll go under I-70 and past the Gore Creek Campground. Park just beyond at the road closure gate.
Gore Creek Recreation Trail (Rating: Easy)
For the more casual, recreational riders, the beautiful Gore Creek paved recreational trail offers miles and miles (12 miles total) of fun flat to rolling hills from the East Valley Trail on the western end and the Vail Pass Trail on the eastern end. Our favorite sections along the Gore Creek Trail include:
- Vail Village to Lionshead: From Vail Village, ride west towards Lionshead, meandering through the village (watch for mandatory dismount spots), by the Hospital, in front of the Vail Library along the river and end in Lionshead. Follow the same route back headed east to Vail Village. This easy route is a perfect way to get from one village to another and back again!
- West of Lionshead to Donovan Park: From Lionshead, follow the path as it drops under the Eagle Bahn Gondola and follows Gore Creek. Headed west, the path is flat to downhill and flows through forested sections all the way to Donovan Park. This is a great spot to relax and grab a snack or picnic lunch before heading back “up” to Lionshead. The path does continue past Donovan Park, right along the N. Frontage Road, heading past the Matterhorn and Intermountain neighborhoods before picking up again and heading all the way into Avon and Edwards!
- East of Vail Village: Catch the recreational trail headed East out of Vail Village at the base of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, buy the Pirate Ship Park. It climbs a bit towards Golden Peak and then follows the road along the Vail Golf Course. Continue on with rolling hills and a steep descent, before turning right towards the Vail Golf Course Clubhouse. Some may choose to end there and turn around or continue on the road pas the clubhouse until the road dead-ends. The recreational trail continues from there, following the golf course and Gore Creek, through meadows and aspen groves. There are benches and picnic tables along the way to stop and enjoy the view. The path ends in East Vail, just after crossing a bridge over Gore Creek, and you’re ready to turn around and ride the reverse. This section can be ridden either direction and is a little more “up-hill” going west to east, so keep that in mind.
For more mountain bike or road biking routes, grab a map and suggestions from our local bike shops, the Welcome Centers or your concierge! Have fun on your two wheels in Vail!