The number of places in the United States where you can take a free gondola ride up above 10,000 feet in elevation to access a downhill mountain bike park? One. And it’s in Mountain Village.
It may be easy to catch a ride up to the top, but getting down is most definitely not easy. The mountain bike park was initially constructed to accommodate a World Cup downhill mountain biking race, and the trails are decidedly expert in nature—the most difficult trail has a gap jump that spans a road, and some of the jumps are taller than head-high. In the years since the course was first built for the World Cup race, other trails have been constructed and new sections have been added, but they are all in the intermediate to advanced/expert range. “The park is not for the faint-of-heart downhill bikers,” says Will Lawshe, a recreation services specialist for Mountain Village.
Lawshe is part of the crew tasked with restoring the park each spring after the snow recedes from the ski resort. Hundreds of inches of snow fall every winter, and in the spring, the downhill runs are the natural path for the snowmelt to drain. “We pretty much have to rebuild it every year because of the snowmelt. It’s a big job,” says Lawshe.
Lawshe and his crew work very hard every spring to make easy access for mountain bikers. All riders need to do is pull up to the multi-level parking garage and pull out their bikes. All of the gondola cabins carry bikes, and the ride up to the top of the park is free. The ride down is free, too, as there is no charge to access the park—riders just need to fill out a waiver and they get a pass. Most downhill parks in the country charge for both a ride up and access, says Lawshe.
The free ride is not just for downhill mountain bikers. There are some incredible cross-country mountain biking trails that are also accessed from the top of the gondola, including the super popular Prospect Loop, an 8.4-mile singletrack loop that offers amazing views of the surrounding scenery, including the Wilson range. Prospect connects to some other epic trails, the Alta Lakes network and T35 trails, or further along riders can hit the Jurassic or Boomerang trails. The options are endless, and the best part? Riders got a leg up with the gondola ride to 10,000 feet, saving their energy for a longer ride and enjoying some great, flowing downhill sections. “You can start at 10,000 feet. There’s a lot less uphill and you get above treeline fairly quickly, so that’s the biggest benefit. Being able to get way up there and ride,” says Lawshe.
If you’re into downhill mountain biking, though, the park is truly a unique and challenging experience. The rides are rated similarly to ski runs, but because it’s all advanced terrain, there are only blue and black diamond runs. “There are no greens in the bike park,” advises Lawshe, and he says that it’s good to have the right equipment for downhill biking. “I always recommend at the very minimum a helmet, but when it comes to padding in the bike park, the more the merrier.”
The trails in the bike park include these:
No-Brainer : 1.5 miles, rated difficult. Expect a 24-inch wide trail, moderate slopes, and unavoidable obstacles less than six inches tall consisting of gravel, rocks and roots. Avoidable obstacles present.
T-Bone Trail : .3 miles, rated more difficult. Moderate slopes, forks off from No-Brainer and reconnects. Expect a 12-inch wide trail, moderate slopes and unavoidable obstacles less than six inches tall consisting of gravel, rocks and roots. Avoidable obstacles up to 24 inches tall present.
Cocoa Loco Trail : .1 miles, rated advanced. Forks off the T-Bone and reconnects. Expect a 12-inch wide trail, steep slopes and unavoidable obstacles up to 12 inches tall. Avoidable man-made features up to 30 inches tall present.
Gold Rush Trail : .75 miles, rated most difficult. Forks off the No-Brainer and features small jumps and drops. Expect a 12-inch wide trail, steep slopes, and unavoidable obstacles less than 24 inches tall consisting of roots, stumps, rocks and loose gravel. Avoidable obstacles up to 36 inches tall present.
Pan-Coaster Trail : .5 miles, rated most difficult. Begins at the road gap adjacent to World Cup trail, featuring berms and jumps and flows in and out of trees. Expect a 12-inch wide trail, steep slopes, and unavoidable obstacles less than 24 inches tall consisting of roots, stumps, rocks and loose gravel. Avoidable obstacles up to 36 inches tall present.
World Cup Trail : .75 miles, rated expert only. Very steep slopes, forks off the Gold Rush Trail .4 miles from the Bike Park entrance. Expect a 12-inch or less wide trail, very steep slopes, and unavoidable obstacles of up to 10 feet tall consisting of log jams, steep drops, jumps and berms.
Ready to visit and hit the trains as the summer season cools down and gold season begins? Check out our trip planning guide and book your stay here in Telluride today. While you're here, be sure to check out the events and activities we have going on throughout the remainder of the summer season.