Renting bikes and coasting down Vail Pass is one of summer’s best family-friendly activities
A ride through the Colorado Rockies, with minimal pedaling required
June 19, 2017
With minimal uphill pedaling required and some of the best views in Summit County, it's no wonder that coasting down Vail Pass on a bicycle is one of summer's great activities.
This high-alpine ride is easy for the entire family, with some children as young as 2 years old in tow with their parents for the adventure, says Brent Ford, general manager at Pioneer Sports in Frisco.
"It's a great activity that anyone with basic bike riding skills can accomplish," he says. "It offers some amazing views of nearby mountains and a scenic ride through Ten Mile Canyon."
Thousands of locals and visitors make the trip every summer, and while most riders can do the trip in less than two hours, there's no need to hurry when so many fun stops along the way make for an exciting, all-day experience. Here's how to make the most of your ride from 10,662 feet back down to Frisco's 9,075 feet.
Get dropped off
This probably goes without saying, but pedaling up the hill isn't all that fun. It's fine for local endurance athletes and cyclists who like to earn their descent, but anyone visiting this elevation for a week likely won't have time to build up to that. Hitch a ride with Pioneer Sports, which buys brand new bikes every season so you can ride down in style.
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Stop in Copper and stay a while
About 30 minutes into the downhill ride, you'll arrive at Copper Mountain. There's a lot to see and do here, such as chairlift rides to the top of the mountain, a zip line, climbing wall, go-kart track, bungee jump, disc golf course and a mini golf course. Anyone looking to get in a little more exercise can check out one of the many scenic hikes on the mountain, too. The best part is that any purchase in the village for $12 earns a free lift ticket ride to the top of the mountain.
A little further down the bike trail between Copper and Frisco is Officer's Gulch Pond, a popular spot for folks to hike and stop for a picnic. The hike is easy and only about 1.7 miles roundtrip. And anyone who prepared ahead by either packing a lunch or picking up some food at Copper Mountain can stop here and enjoy a picnic near the pond.
Enjoy the town of Frisco
From the summit of Vail Pass to Frisco takes about two hours, but those who don't stop and pedal a little harder can make it down in about an hour and 15 minutes, Ford says. Once in Frisco, take a stroll along Main Street and enjoy some of the shopping, restaurants and parks in town.
Appreciate the lake
To cap off the day, head down toward Lake Dillon and follow the bike trail around the lake for a new perspective.
"The partial ride around the lake is a great way to add in a little pedaling and some beautiful views," Ford says.
You can first check out the Frisco Bay Marina and enjoy a snack or a cocktail at the Island Grill, or anyone feeling more adventurous could try a standup paddleboard or kayak rental. Ford recommends riding the 5 or 6 miles around to the Dillon Marina and then taking the ferry across the lake back to Frisco as another way to enjoy the water. Riding all the way around the lake isn't typically recommended after the Vail Pass ride since it adds on another 18 miles and involves some strenuous uphill pedaling. Those who enjoy all of these stops along the trail and finish out their day on the lake should expect the day to take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours.
Pioneer Sports, 842 N. Summit Boulevard, Frisco, CO, (970) 668-3668, http://www.pioneersportscolorado.com
By Lauren Glendenning | Brought to you by Pioneer Sports
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