Call me a wimp. I can take it. We were at Beaver Creek last week for a quick end-of-summer getaway. School starts on August 20 and we needed a fun family adventure before the boys hit the books. My sons were clamoring for mountain biking, but I was thinking about hiking. And then, my son showed me the Beaver Creek summer trail map. Right there, in print, it made my day. Here’s what it said:
Beaver Creek does not offer extreme downhill mountain biking. Lift-served family riding and cross-country riding is offered.
I’ve got nothing against downhill mountain biking, except that it’s way too intense for me, especially when I’m the responsible adult. With a guide or instructor? Maybe. But with two skilled, athletic boys who always outride me? Shudder. Cross-country mountain biking? That’s more my speed.
Hit The (Summer) Trails
Referring to the summer trail map, we quickly noticed that Beaver Creek has many miles of trail open in summer. Most trails are multi-use, meaning that they are open to horses, hikers and bikers. A few are hiking only, while only two, Corkscrew and Stack-It (both black diamond single track), are biking only trails.
With a bike, the best option is to ride the Centennial Express lift up to Spruce Saddle and begin your adventure mid-mountain. And yes, these trails do go downhill. They just aren’t downhill course trails.
Currently, the options from Spruce Saddle are more limited than usual because of ongoing construction on a new World Cup speed course. In preparation for the 2015 World Alpine Championships, Beaver Creek is building a women’s course which will open for the 2012-2013 season. Since bikes, pedestrians and heavy equipment don’t mix well, trails in the construction zone are very clearly closed.
Deer, Forests and Meadows
Not that the closures really mattered. We started on a blue intermediate trail, Rose Pedal. This turned out to be a perfect choice. Rose Pedal leaves directly from the Spruce Saddle Lodge, turning southeast and into a stand of pine trees. We hadn’t rounded three corners before we startled three deer. Surprised, we came to a dead stop. So did the deer. As we cagily watched each other, wondering who would move first, one deer jumped away. The other two followed and we continued through the shady, thick woods.
Rose Pedal winds through the forest and across a meadow before intersecting with an overgrown dual track. At this point, riders have a choice, continue to the right on Rose Pedal, which becomes single track again before intersecting with Cinch, a surprisingly smooth, if uneventful, dirt road to the base, or drop down onto Corkscrew, one of the dedicated bike trails. Our family tried both and enjoyed both. Beaver Creek may not have any “extreme downhill mountain biking,” but with a steady downhill pitch, and lots of roots, Corkscrew offered a fun challenge.
When You Go…
Summer lift service and mountain biking continue at Beaver Creek daily through September 2 and weekends through September 30th. We found the mountain biking trails to be well-signed, well-maintained and appropriate for riders of all abilities. The views are simply gorgeous and the forests are stunning, too. Lunch is offered at Spruce Saddle Lodge on the deck. There is also a disc golf course at Spruce Saddle which was seeing lots of action.
Many hiking trails start from the village, but to reach the 11,440 foot summit, families may find it more appealing to take the Centennial Express up to Spruce Saddle and then continue on the PHQ Hill Climb for 2.7 miles and a vertical gain of 1,240 feet. Going down, hikers can hike the entire way, or download on the lift. Ticket prices range from $25 for adult hikers to $30 for adult bikers. Kids, ages 5-12, are free with a paid adult.
Upcoming Fun: Bikes, Bratwurst and Music
Stage Four of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge rolls into Beaver Creek on August 23. Professional cyclists will leave Aspen that morning at 11:35 and will race up and down Independence Pass and through Leadville and Minturn before arriving in Beaver Creek at approximately 3:30 p.m. A day-long party begins in Beaver Creek at 11:00 a.m. and ends with a concert by Chris Duarte at 5:00 p.m.
Beaver Creek celebrates Oktoberfest over the weekend of September 1 and 2, with the Beaver Creek Music Experience Grand Concert the following weekend on September 8. While the summer may be winding down, the fun certainly isn’t!
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