Garfield County mountain bike rides not to miss

Prince Creek trails offer easier riding than Red Hill, which features rides through meadows and pinyon-juniper trees.
Courtesy photo |

Garfield County, Colorado, offers a wide variety of mountain bike trails — smooth dirt and rocky descents; short, rollercoaster funfests; and long, challenging epics. Plus, terrain spans rocky, desert riding to lush, forest scenes. And it’s only about an hour or so east from Grand Junction on Interstate 70, depending on location.

There are lots of trails close to towns (or in them), and some that require a long drive into national forest land.

See if you can pry secrets from local bike shops, or at least get advice on trail conditions.

Glenwood Springs


Distance — 3.4 miles

Named for the local cycling Olympian who trained on this hill, Jeanne Golay Trail heads up Red Mountain. The route follows Red Mountain Road, but there are numerous singletrack options along the way, some of them quite steep. The views of Glenwood and the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys from the top are spectacular.


Distance — 18 miles

As Glenwood’s true classic ride, these trails can be ridden in an exhausting (but satisfying) 18-mile loop. Park in town somewhere (that serves your favorite beverage?) and head south about 3 miles on the Rio Grande Trail to the dirt Red Canyon Road. Then the climbing begins. After another 3 miles, turn left on Lookout Mountain Road — a rougher road with even more climbing and lots of sun exposure — for 1.5 miles to a parking lot for a four-wheel-drive road. Here is where the fun begins, though there is still some climbing on this rolling road. After not-quite-2 miles, you’re finally at the singletrack that heads down (down! finally!) Bear Creek. After .75 mile, turn left on Forest Hollow, which rarely changes in elevation for 5.6 miles as it travels the sidehill above the Colorado River through cool Douglas fir and scratchy oak brush. The flat trail continues to the south, but turn right onto Boy Scout Trail, a fun, moderate/difficult, sometimes rocky and steep 2.5-mile singletrack that drops you back into town to your waiting car and refreshment.


Distance — 5.8 miles

Three Forks Trail is well north of Rifle in the White River National Forest. The trail starts out climbing gradually along creeks in spruce-fir. The trail climbs out of the drainages and onto a flatter area with aspen. It is often ridden as a loop of about 20 miles by heading up Forest Road 825 to FR 211, then turning left to the upper trailhead. To get to the lower trailhead, head north on Highway 13 out of Rifle and turn right on Highway 325, passing through Rifle Gap and Rifle Falls state recreation areas and Rifle Mountain Park. Though the road number may change, continue north about 1.5 miles into the national forest and go left at the fork. FR 825 takes off to the right.



Distance — 1.9 miles

Lorax stands alone off Thompson Creek Road. After a rough, rocky start, this moderate trail rolls through punchy climbs and descents to a loop. It is not as well known as Red Hill or Prince Creek, but it’s no secret. Nevertheless, you might get it all to yourself.


Distance — 6 miles

The “Lunch Loops” of Carbondale, this combo throws together Three Gulch, Blue Ribbon, Bogus, Faerie, Skeeter’s Ridge, Roller Coaster and Blue Ribbon (again) for a 6-mile funfest.


Distance — 16 miles

This circuit is only half on dirt, but it’s a classic nonetheless. Start from Carbondale and ride up to the Prince Creek system, stringing together Monte Carlo, Christmas Tree, North Porcupine, Outie and Buckhorn. Enjoy an easy spin back to Carbondale on the Rio Grande bike path.

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