Winter Park, known as the Mountain Bike Capital of the US, is a 1.5 hour drive from Denver and features for its over 600 miles of singletrack. It’s a little mountain biking mecca in a quaint mountain town. However, I wasn’t there to check out the cross-country trails, I was there to ride the two bike parks in the area: Granby Ranch and Trestle.
Granby Ranch is a 30-minute drive from Winter Park. I was lucky to be riding with Jamie Wolter, Granby’s bike park manager, who was able to give me a tour of the mountain. He also gave me a history on the trail network and filled me in on what’s in store for the future.
When it was first built, Granby Ranch—which was then known as SolVista—prided itself on its raw trails with natural features and giving riders a west coast experience in Colorado. The trails did remind me of my home network on Vancouver Island and it was a treat to ride. While Granby Ranch’s green runs are what we consider a green here in BC, they would probably be closer to a blue in most places. Granby Ranch is attracting families to their residential development, and they realized that the gnarly trails they prided themselves on weren’t “family-friendly”.
To rectify this, they chose Moga’s Mile to smooth out and make it a true green. This will give their green trails a nice progression, from Strawberry Jam with it’s swoopy corners and berms to Loosey with it’s off-camber corners and rock gardens. Perfect for skills development for riding more technical trails.
There is also a jump trail at Granby Ranch called Silky Johnson. This is the trail that brought a smile to my face. It’s the only blue rated run and all of the jumps are rollable. They have a predictable trajectory if you do choose to jump them. From here you work your way up to Cheez-It, another crowd favourite.
However, there is more to Granby Ranch than the trails in the bike park. They also have lift-accessible cross-country trails, which sadly, I didn’t get a chance to check out on this trip.
They have a well-stocked bike rental shop with both downhill and all-mountain/enduro bikes. I chose a Pivot Mach 6 for my afternoon at the park.
Trestle Bike Park
Trestle is the larger of the two parks and the Whistler Bike Park inspired its trails. It was home to Crankworx when they had their US stop and still hosts the Colorado Freeride Festival. I was there with Katie Levy, who had never been on a downhill bike before and was admittedly a bit nervous before we set off—riding downhill wasn’t her strong suit.
Katie had a private coach from the bike school who let us know that the green runs at Trestle are more on the pedally side, so we skipped those and jumped straight to the blue run Shy Ann. It was a flow trail with nice berms and not too steep of a descent. It didn’t take long before Katie was riding like a rock star. While she was riding with her coach and working on her skills development, I went off to check out the other trails in the network.
Trestle’s network consists of 59 trail sections, you can easily spend a day or two learning how the trails interconnect and choose your own adventure. One of my favourite trails was the black trail Search and Seizure, it starts off with a steep descent which leads into a more raw trail with natural drops and rock gardens. It has the option of linking up with the blue trail Shy Ann or double black rated Trestle Downhill, depending on your comfort level. I was riding solo so I decided to stick to Shy Ann and link into the jump trail called Rainmaker.
Rainmaker is one of the most popular trails at Trestle Bike Park. It was quiet when I rode it in the morning, but by the afternoon there were line-ups of people waiting to drop in. The trail itself was like a mix of Crank It Up and Crabapple Hits in Whistler, which is exactly what the trail designers were hoping for. It features consistent jumps, which you can roll or get good air. I found it to be a super fun trail, if jumps are your thing.
I met up back up with Katie and her instructor and by this point she was feeling much more confident with her downhill skills and I had a good idea of how the trails connected. While they stayed on the blue runs, I found more challenging trails that would tie into their planned route so we were able to ride together; one of the bonuses of having interconnecting sections of trail in a network.
When we were done for the day, we followed Long Trail to Jury Duty—it features long boardwalk — which connected to The Boulevard and ended at the village. There were small wall rides along the way, which by this time Katie was handling with ease. And of course we had to stop to purchase our photos from the on-course photographer!
Things to Do Around Winter Park
Devil’s Thumb Ranch offers a host of activities from zip lining to yoga on a stand-up paddleboard if you’re looking to get off the bike. There’s also a spa if you feel like pampering yourself. Plus Devil’s Thumb has a great restaurant called Heck’s that features one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.
Katie and I, along with our host Diane from the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, rented bikes to explore the area around the ranch. We rode the horse paths and cross-country ski trails with a stop at the petting zoo; which is located at the ranch stables. If you do plan on biking at Devil’s Thumb, we recommend sticking to the ski routes as much as possible.
Another place worth visiting is the Foundry Cinema & Bowl where we hung out to eat pizza and went bowling at their 10-pin bowling alley. And make sure you head to the loo; it really is a thing of beauty!
However, no trip is complete without a stop at the Library. No, not that library… The Library Sports Grille & Brewery. Their craft beer is to die for! I highly recommend the blueberry-pomegranate wheat ale.
There is also plenty of shopping in the village at the bottom of Trestle Bike Park if you’re looking for souvenirs to take home, along with sports shops along Main St in Winter Park itself.
Another thing worth doing is the Tour de Bike which is a self-guided bike tour of the restaurants around Winter Park that is hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. It costs $10 and includes two drink tickets. There are rental shops that can supply you with cruiser bikes if you don’t want to pedal around town on your mountain bike.