Colorado Escapist: Feel the need for speed with dirt biking and four-wheeling on Summit County moto trails
I feel the need… the need… for speed!
After getting a taste for the power of motorized vehicles on a dirt biking adventure outside of Vail, I made the commitment to solidify my passion for motorcycle riding by taking a motorcycle-riding course in Denver for an official motorcycle license.
School can teach you the basics of safety and riding (I highly recommend it), but the real test for mastering the art of motorsports is to get out there and do it. While talking to mountain bikers about dirt biking, many people feel intimated by the power and gears. If that is the case, you may feel safer on another type of off-highway vehicle (OHV) like an ATV or Jeep. But if two wheels are calling your name, the time is now to overcome that fear, jump on board and go for a ride!
Throttle vs. feet
Few sensations compare to the feeling of summiting a mountain pass with a punch of the throttle at your fingertips, the surge of adrenaline spiking through your veins ass you flick your wrist and trust that bad-boy machine to ride over most obstacles that get in your way.
Coming from the perspective of a mountain biker, I at first felt like dirt bikes, ATVs and four-wheelers were downright annoying. These loud, gas-guzzling machines left no impression on me, other than to disrupt the natural environment.
However, that was before I experienced the ultimate power in the palm of my hand. After a fun-filled day chasing foliage in Vail, I decided that as long as OHV vehicles slow down when they come next to a pedal pusher, we could all play nice with each other. I might have thought that getting into the backcountry on OHVs was cheating, but active motorsport enthusiasts would disagree. Many get a serious workout from the intensity of the sport. I’m now a believer and have discovered a newfound passion in the world of motorsports.
Find your OHV
The best part of moto riding in Summit County? You have access to multiple rental companies with wide selections of ATVs and OHVs to curb your thirst for adrenaline.
If you feel the need to truly experience wild, untamed backcountry, then start out with an unguided tour of the surrounding areas. Don’t forget to bring a map and even an Outdoor Tech Power Hub to charge up your phone or GoPro. Plan a trip to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of mountain passes with one of my favorite rides: a jaunt to the top of Georgia Pass. Experience the scenery as if you are on a mountain bike, only with the ability to travel longer, farther and faster to off-the-beaten-path destinations.
Lucky for us here in Summit, we have a nice mix of mountain biking trails and OHV trails that do not, in general, conflict with each other’s enjoyment of the great outdoors. There are plenty of routes off Tiger Road in Breckenridge and south into Park County, and the U.S. Forest Service is working hand-in-hand with Summit County Off-Road Riders to add dozens of miles of singletrack to the Tenderfoot Mountain system.
In general, we’ve done a great job at preserving our mountain bike-only singletrack trails, while offering access to dirt bikers and ATV riders on existing mining roads. Everyone plays together for a safe, fun, multiple-sport backcountry adventure.
Find your OHV trails
Many of the historic routes listed below were first developed in the 19th century by gold miners in search for their treasure. Today, you can see remains of the gold boom in Colorado with a perfect mix of ghost towns and amazing golden aspen leaves.
Breckenridge Golden Horseshoe: A favorite local summit country ride, these trails can take you to the top of Georgia Pass in no time at all. Start in Jefferson and head north on a jeep road, with a few rocky sections, all the way to the top of Georgia Pass. You’ll enjoy epic views all the way to Breckenridge.
Hardscrabble: The Vail and Eagle areas are busting with trails. A good start is Hardscrabble outside of Eagle, which takes you through Bureau of Land Management property and gives you hours and hours of endless adventure filled with spectacular views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
Central City and Saint Mary’s Trails: Found a short drive from Silverthorne, you can reach high into the clouds with the trail networks around the Idaho Springs area. Roll past amazing alpine lakes and even circumnavigate Saint Mary’s Glacier.
Leadville and Tenderfoot MX tracks: Ready to really test your need for speed? Head over to the MX track in Leadville (aka Lake County OHV Park), where both beginners and experts can test their handling skills on a fully fenced adult motocross track, a kid’s track and a pedestrian walkway that takes you to the beginning of moto singletrack. It is easy to buy a one-day pass or a membership at the Conoco in Leadville.
A little closer to home is the Tenderfoot MX track. This one is a member’s-only course, but it’s easy enough to purchase individual passes or annual memberships. Expect berms, rollers, jumps and more on looping trails over one mile long, found just outside the Summit County Landfill between Keystone and Dillon.
Ready to buy?
The guys at MotoBreck, a locally owned moto shop located at Farmer’s Korner near Summit High School, are knowledgeable and love what they do. They can help get you the right OHV for your everyday enjoyment.
No matter what motorsport you choose, fall is the perfect time to plan a backcountry adventure and see the changing leaves. If you’ve never ventured deep into the wilderness, an ATV or OHV is your perfect ride for a fun-filled day in the woods. There’s no need to be scared of the power at your fingertips — with a few safety instructions, even beginners can fall in love with moto.
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