Go Play: Rio Grande Recreation Trail offers fun for all types | PostIndependent.com

Go Play: Rio Grande Recreation Trail offers fun for all types

Brittany Markert
Riders take off in the distance on the Rio Grande Recreation Trail spanning Glenwood Springs to Aspen.
Brittany Markert / bmarkert@gjfreepress.com | Free Press


WHAT: Rio Grande Recreational Trail

WHEN: Year-round, weather permitting

WHERE: Glenwood Springs to Aspen

COST: Free

INFO: http://www.rfta.com


Two Rivers Park at the Colorado River to Colorado Mountain College Park and Ride — 6.9 miles

Colorado Mountain College Park and Ride to Carbondale Park and Ride — 5.2 miles

Carbondale Park and Ride to Catherine Bridge Trailhead —4 miles

Catherine Bridge Trailhead to Hooks Lane Trailhead — 4.5 miles

Hooks Lane Trailhead to Basalt High School Trailhead — 2.9 miles

Basalt High School Trailhead to Arciero/Old Snowmass Trailhead — 3.6 miles

Arciero/Old Snowmass Trailhead to Woody Creek Trailhead — 7 miles

Woody Creek Trailhead to Stein Park Trailhead — 6 miles

Stein Park Trailhead to Herron Park/Neale Street — 2.4 miles

Trade desert scenery for tall aspen and pine trees along Colorado’s Rio Grande Recreational Trail, spanning from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. The trail is 42 miles long, eight to 10 feet wide, with a soft shoulder; it’s open to pedestrians, bicycles, roller skaters, skateboards, horses and wheelchairs. It winds through the Roaring Fork Valley, riding along side the Roaring Fork River, often showcasing old railway ties.

The Rio Grande Rec Trail is an easy ride from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, with little to no serious climbs. A strong headwind in the open space area between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs (when afternoon rains roll in) was the only trouble. If you’re adventurous, take the trail from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, which climbs almost 1,200 feet.

According to a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority Rio Grande Trail brochure, it used a combination of funding from local governments, Great Outdoors Colorado grants, Colorado Department of Transportation, and Pitkin County Open Space and Trails to create the Rio Grande Rec Trail from an old railway track. The project’s aim was to explore transportation alternatives for state Highway 82 congestion and create connectivity for recreation in the Roaring Fork Valley. RFTA manages and maintains the trail with partner agencies .

Don’t want to ride back to your car? Shuttle back on a VelociRFTA, a bus holding up to four bikes; it costs $7 per person, plus $2 per bike. A weekend bus, called the Bike Express, was also retrofitted to hold dozens of bikes inside, along with ample room for passengers in the front.


Rio Grande Rec Trail hosts nine segments and trailheads between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Several RFTA park-and-ride stops — including a pickup at Colorado Mountain College — make it easy to access the trail.

Picnic tables and benches, along with a few vault toilets, are also provided along the path. Plus, towns edging the trail (including Carbondale and Basalt) have trail spurs for folks in search of snacks and town exploration.

Before venturing to Glenwood Springs, check local calendars for information regarding road closures, parking and access issues. Checking the weather is suggested as well because temperatures differ from Grand Junction with mountainous elevation gains.

Don’t forget: Follow signs reminding you to stay right, pick up animal droppings, and keep it to under 15 mph if riding a bike.

For maps and more information, visit http://www.rfta.com.

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