Eat, Drink, Play: Keystone: a ride for every level |

Eat, Drink, Play: Keystone: a ride for every level

Special to the Daily

A great way to enjoy the mountain views of Summit County, explore local trails and make the most of a dwindling number of warm, snow-free days is by mountain biking.

In the High Country, mountain biking is almost as popular a sport in the summer as skiing and snowboarding are in the winter. As a result, local ski resorts offer fantastic bike parks that provide sweeping views of surrounding mountain ranges and access to peaceful, scenic high-alpine trails.

In Summit County, many avid and professional bikers choose Keystone Resort’s bike park, which is said to be one of the most competitive in the country. The resort offers more than 100 miles of single-track trails and a “drop zone,” – a progressive bike terrain park equipped with rock garden, ridgeline drops that form jumps and man-made features. The base of the mountain is 9,280 feet above sea level and the park rises to a summit above 11,500 feet.

By this time of year, all of Keystone’s 55 mountain bike trails are open for business and should be completely free of snow.

Like skiing, mountain biking is graded by ability level, and to avoid confusion, Keystone’s mountain bike trails are rated under the same system as ski runs. Greens feature gentle slopes, shorter runs and fewer natural challenges on the trail making them ideal for young and beginner riders, and, on the other end of the scale, double-black trails offer a more challenging and exciting experience for advanced cyclists.

At all ability levels, bikers have the option of riding cross-country, traversing across the mountain and taking on uphill climbs or of accessing terrain by ski-lift or gondola and then riding downhill.

Designed for beginners, terrain that is rated green will be the easiest on the mountain. These trails wind through lodgepole pine and aspen groves as well as open fields offering sweeping views of the valley. For a good uphill route, try Sleepy Hollow, a rolling single-track that cuts through both aspen and pine forests. Girl Scouts, a winding, but easy single track offers views of Dillon Reservoir as it cuts across open ski runs.

Intermediate terrain at Keystone will appeal to riders who are comfortable handling a mountain bike and are looking for a varied, exciting ride that will test their abilities without pushing them past their limits. The trails may feature natural obstacles, such as larger rocks and roots or follow steeper grades (an average of 10 percent).

Eye of the Tiger is a great route for confident intermediate riders looking for an interesting terrain with opportunities to take on more intense challenges. The path cuts in and out of the forest and encounters several man-made and natural features, including bridges, berms and rocks.

Black and double-black trails are intended for expert riders and promise difficult terrain, free-ride features, steep grades and natural obstacles.

Keystone’s black and double-black selection ranges from short, technical trails such as Cowboy up and Punk Rock, to longer, more varied runs like Even Flow and Sanitarium – a fast-paced downhill that includes a 14-foot corkscrew feature.

Keystone offers bike rentals priced by the hour at Keystone Sports located in the River Run Village.

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