Your Guide To Colorado Springs Mountain Biking

Coming in at the 9th best place to live in the United States, Colorado Springs (COS) has a TON to offer visitors. Also known as the “Front Range,” COS sits at the base of Pikes Peak (Tava)- a 14,000ft mountain that towers over the city. Whether you’re into cycling, hiking, running, or climbing, COS is the perfect place to call home for all of your outdoor adventures. 

When visiting COS, you will have the option of riding techy rocks in Palmer Park, surfing the kitty litter in Cheyanne Cañon, or descending 8,000ft down Barr Trail. Your options are endless depending on what you like to ride and how much time you have. 

This is going to be your go-to guide for all things mountain biking in COS- from the green trails to double black trails, this guide will provide you with important information about local bike shops, breweries, and the best post-ride food. 

the mountains outside of colorado springs

A few key spots in town are:

  • Garden of the Gods Park is one of the most iconic spots in COS. If you do not ride through at least take a quick drive through the park for some amazing views. 
  • Ute Valley Park offers cyclists a variety of trails from rocky downhill to flowy singletrack.
  • Palmer Park has 69 mountain bike trails full of techy up and downhill (you will be humbled if you decide to ride here).
  • Austin Bluffs Open Space has one of the city’s few downhill-only trails.
  • Red Rock Canyon Open Space is set in the forefront of Pikes Peak (Tava) and offers all different trails for riders.
  • Cheyanne Mountain State Park sits right below Norad with some fun flowy and technical trails (there is an entry fee)
  • Stratton Open Space offers a downhill-only mountain bike trail and some fun flowy singletrack. There is also a reservoir that dogs can swim in. 
  • North Cheyanne Cañon Park is one of the city’s biggest mountain bike playgrounds, you will be surfing kitty litter and trying to avoid motos on some of the flowiest singletrack in town. 
  • Pulpit Rock Open Space is wedged between Austin Bluffs Open Space and Ute Valley. 
  • Blodgett Peak Open Space is primarily a hiking destination located on the northwest side of COS. There are a few mountain biking trails like Fenceline. You can also hike to the top of Blodgett Peak which sits at a little over 9,000ft.  

Best Green Trails in Town

If you’re looking for an easy, flat trail the Santa Fe trail will be your go-to. It is a wide gravel path that parallels I-25. You can take it all the way from Fountain, CO to Palmer Lake, CO. There is nothing technical or intimidating about this trail and is perfect for site-seeing Colorado Springs or towing your Burley trailer

If you’re wanting a little more single-track oriented trail, head to Red Rock Canyon Open Space. Park at the east parking lot on 31st and Colorado across from Rudy’s BBQ.

There you will climb a short, slightly rocky trail that spits you out onto a fire road called Hogback Trail where you’ll climb roughly 500ft and 1 mile to a super fun trail called Lion Trail. Lion Trail is a flowy singletrack trail with optional tech lines to progress.

This is an easy trail to lap- you simply just have to climb Hogback all over again. If you are traveling with a toddler, this loop is a great option for your MacRide or Shotgun seat. 

Just about any trail in Garden of the Gods Park is beginner friendly. Just note that some of the trails are hiking ONLY trails. 

If you happen to be staying on the north side of COS, the Pineries Open Space Loop is a 7-mile and 500ft loop. There is nothing technical on this trail and it is excellent for either a mountain bike or a gravel bike with wider tires. I would also recommend this trail for someone looking to ride with their toddler. 

Blue Trails Dominate COS

We are lucky to have a TON of fun, flowy blue trails in COS. If you’re wanting something a little harder but not too hard, I’ve got just the trails for you.

One of the most iconic trails in COS is Captain Jacks in North Cheyanne Cañon Park. It is a 3.3-mile-long trail that is primarily downhill with a few punchy climbs and a lot of flowy singletrack.

The reason it is rated as a blue trail is because of the kitty litter, and what I mean by kitty litter is the loose decomposed granite that will quickly suck your tires in or make you fishtail. You have a few options for getting to Captain Jacks depending on how much time you have and how much climbing you want to do.

If you start out in Stratton Open Space and climb up Ridge South🡪 Chamberlain 🡪 Ladders 🡪 Gold Camp Road 🡪 and finally up High Drive. This will have you climbing about 1,800ft and will be roughly 13 miles.

If you don’t want to climb your little legs off, you always have the option of parking at the bottom of Captain Jack’s and climbing a short distance up Gold Camp Road to High Drive. This is roughly 800-900ft and about 7 miles. 

Another fun option for blue trails is the Daniel’s Pass/Sweetwater trail network. Located in North Cheyanne Cañon Park, Daniel’s Pass and Sweetwater are about 6 miles long with different options for creating loops.

These are rated blue because of the wonderful Front Range Kitty Litter and are primarily flowy trails with a few optional tech lines. If you decide to do the full loop you will have to climb a little and it will feel more like XC riding. 

If you like rocky terrain, Palmer Park offers some techy climbing and descending. Although it is considered XC, you will be humbled quickly by all of the technical climbing Palmer has to offer.

A few of my favorite blue trails are Kinnickinnick, South Canyon Trail, and the Palmer Point Trail. It is extremely easy to get lost and turned around in Palmer so make sure you have Trail Forks downloaded on your phone or ride with a local. 

a mountain bike leaning against a tree in colorado springs

My last favorite blue trail is for all you XC junkies, the Falcon Loop. It is located at The United States Air Force Academy (don’t worry- you can get on base as long as you enter through the north entrance and bring your ID) and is such a fun 13-mile loop that can be done either clockwise or counterclockwise.

It only has about 1,600 ft of climbing so it’s excellent for lapping. My favorite direction is clockwise because there is a long steep climb right in the middle that I like to suffer on. 

Finally, COS Black Trails

If you’re like me and prefer downhill over uphill, you will love some of the fun, rocky downhill trails we have in the Springs. 

One of the most popular black diamond trails is called The Chutes. It is located in Stratton Open Space and is a mountain bike DOWNHILL ONLY trail. It’s roughly 1 mile long with a rocky entrance, rock wall berm, optional drops, and multiple table-top jumps. It is a MUST do if you’re comfortable riding technical trails.

I have ridden this trail on my 160/150 travel bike as well as my 120/110 travel bike and have never had an issue. One thing I would recommend is that your bike at least have a front suspension and a dropper post is NICE but not necessary. I’ve had several friends ride it without a dropper and they didn’t have any issues. 

Located on the northwest side of COS is Ute Valley Park. Ute has so many awesome blue and green trails with a few black trails sprinkled within the park.

One of my favorite trails in the Springs is called Nachos, located in Ute. It is a short trail with lots of chunk.

There are two optional drops and some fun alternate lines. There are a few ways to get to the top of Nachos, but the fastest way is by taking the Pine Ridge Trail or as locals know it, Child’s Play.

After you’ve bombed down Nachos, head east on the Juniper Trail and connect with New Almond Butter and Rattle Rocks. These two trails are DOWNHILL ONLY mountain bike trails and are relatively short. New Almond Butter is slightly easier than Rattle Rocks, but both have several option lines.

colorado springs mountain biking

The last black diamond trail I’m going to recommend is a new trail to COS called Black Sheep. Black Sheep is located in Austin Bluffs Open Space/Pulpit Rock. It offers riders lots of exposed chunk with optional drops.

It is a DOWNHILL ONLY mountain bike trail and the best way to get to the top of it is to climb the Pulpit Rock Trail, hanging a right on Pulpit Rock Blue trail, and then descending Black Sheep.

There are so many trails in the COS area that you WILL NOT get bored. This is just a quick snapshot of what the city has to offer. The best way to experience mountain biking in COS is to hook up with a local to show you around. 

Ultra-Epic Rides: Descending 8,000 feet

If you’re looking for something extremely epic and out of this world, you’ve come to the right place. Colorado Springs has a few epic rides that will knock your socks off.

Pikes Peak Plummet is a mostly downhill ride that is 27 miles long with about 2,000 feet of climbing. It does require you to be shuttled halfway up Pikes Peak Highway and the fee to access the road is $50 per carload OR you can pedal your bike up.

You’re going to drop in on Elk Park which is rated as a black trail and ride high alpine until you drop into the trees. After descending Elk Park, you will start climbing Lake Moraine.

After about 1,400 feet of climbing, you will drop into New Jones Park for about a 5-mile descent to Kineo Mountain Trail (667) which will spit you out onto Captain Jacks. This is such an amazing ride full of fun flow, a little bit of tech, and some awesome views. 

malorie riding pikes peak plummit

If you’re ONLY wanting to ride downhill, Barr Trail is for you. You will need to shuttle up Pikes Peak Highway to the very top of Pikes Peak (Tava, 14,000ft) and you will drop in from there.

The first three miles of this ride is extremely high-consequence riding. It is exposed and you could have high winds to deal with. Once you drop into the trees, this trail is full of tech and flow that will keep you on your toes. You will have 12 miles of epic downhill unlike anything you’ve ever done. 

Local Eats and Breweries

I love trying local restaurants when I travel…actually, I think it’s my favorite part of traveling. Colorado Springs has a TON of excellent food options and breweries galore. Here are a few of my favorite spots to hit after riding. 

Trails End Taproom is located next to Red Rock Canyon Open Space; Trails End is the best of both worlds. They offer several local and nationwide brews that are pour and pay by the ounce along with a wide array of food options. The beer and wine options are constantly changing so you will NEVER get bored. They offer several vegan and gluten-free options along with a kid’s menu and dessert menu. A few of my favorites are the Barbacoa Nachos and the Buffalo Creek flatbread. Not only do they have excellent beer and food, but they are an integral part of the cycling community in COS. They host weekly rides at both locations and support local trail builders. 

Red Leg Brewery is located up north by Garden of the Gods. It is a massive brewery with several food trucks and local bands. It’s the perfect spot to relax after riding and is family friendly. 

Burrowing Owl is a local vegan restaurant on the west side of the Springs near Stratton Open Space. They have a fun and vast drink menu and offer different types of comfort food but vegan. My favorite is their mojito and crunch wrap supreme. The fact that they can make it SO delicious and vegan is a true talent. They donate part of your bill toward local nonprofits that benefit the environment and animals. 

Bike Shops to The Rescue

COS has quite a few bike shops to help you fix your rig or possibly look at a new bike. There are shops sprinkled throughout the city, but here are a few of my favorites. 

Bicycle Experience is located on the west side of town close to Stratton Open Space. Todd (the owner and veteran) runs a clean shop with some awesome mechanics. They sell Specialized, Yeti, and Intense bikes along with tons of clothes and gear for mountain biking. 

Criterium is on the north end of town wedged between Ute Valley and Pulpit Rock. They have been servicing the Front Range for more than 40 years and continue to offer a plethora of services as well as clothing and gear. They also offer bike fits and e-bike rentals. 

Ascent Cycling is in the northeast part of town and recently opened up a new, bigger shop. They sell Rocky Mountain, Intense, Trek, and Pivot and offer a full line of services. You can demo a bike at Ascent Cycling to really get a feel for how it is going to ride before buying it. 

Enjoy Your Stay in Beautiful Colorado Springs

Whether you ride green trails the entire time or send it down Barr Trail, you’re bound to have an unforgettable experience. Colorado Springs has so much to offer from mountain biking to hiking to bagging a 14ner that your options are endless.

Just remember you’re on Ute Native land and to please leave it better than you found it. Shred on, friends.

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About The Author

pregnant woman on bike

Malorie Gage has been mountain biking, road, gravel cycling for many years. She lives in Colorado where she’s raising two tiny humans and balancing biking and motherhood.

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