Summit County Bike Guide: Keystone Bike Park black runs (video)
Keystone Bike Park
What: A lift-accessed downhill bike park for riders of all abilities, featuring a lower skills park and 55 miles of trail with berms, drops, rail bridges and more
Where: River Run Village, Keystone Mountain
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends
Season: Daily until Sept. 7; weekends only until Sept. 20
Cost: $42 for single-day pass
A single-day pass includes unlimited bike haul on the Summit Express lift, located next to the skills park and jump line. All equipment is available from rental shops in the River Run base area. For more info on the bike park, including special events and races, see http://www.keystoneresort.com.
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Keystone Bike Park is not for the faint of heart — or nerve. With names like Helter, Skelter, Jam Rock and Motorhead, the resort’s black and double-black downhill runs are intimidating before you even set tread to trail. The park is home to more than a dozen expert-only routes, all accessed from the top of Summit Express lift. From there, DHers drop nearly 2,000 vertical feet on a tour of the nastiest, gnarliest terrain the mountain has to offer: massive boulder gardens with no easy escape, 20-foot drops into tight dirt berms, dizzying log bridges that spiral like corkscrews. And, don’t expect machine-built trails with buttery smooth dirt. These runs are made for riders who want rocks, bumps, logs and anything nature can imagine. Congratulations — your wishes have been granted.
Know before you go
There’s no official age limit at the bike park, but the trails and features are designed for intermediate and advanced riders only. A downhill bike and gear (full-face helmet, shin guards, knee pads, motocross jersey) are highly recommended for bike park riders. If you stop on a trail, move to the side immediately — the bike park is filled with blind corners and drops. A Colorado mountain bike group, the VIDA MTB Series from Yeti Cycles, hosts female-only clinics every Wednesday through Aug. 26 to teach beginners downhilling basics. For $30, participants get a haul pass, bike/gear rental and on-hill instruction with local coaches from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Reserve a spot by calling the resort at 970-496-4386.
Think of the black line (and all lines) at Keystone Bike Park as ski runs: one trailhead leads to several different connectors, all of which branch across the front side of the mountain before leading back to the River Run base area. All trails are clearly marked, with names and the colored difficulty symbols familiar to skiers.
You can access the majority of black runs from Milky Way, a relatively mellow black that weaves in and out of trees, with swooping berms and the occasional tabletop jump. There are no gaps or drops on this early section.
From Milky Way, connect with Motorhead for several rocky sections and a few short log bridges before turning onto High Speed Dirt. The name says it all: this trail graciously grows wider in time to hit the first bridges and boulder patches on steep, jagged terrain. Watch for progressively larger tabletops with poppy lips and the occasional hip kicker.
High Speed Dirt leads to Jam Rock, one of Keystone’s signature features. It begins mellow enough with tight boulders and rocks on a gentle grade, but, within the first few yards, the trail gets steeper and the rocks get larger before opening up to nearly 80 feet of jagged boulders — and that’s all. Keep your eyes forward and butt back, or you run the risk of toppling to either side.
After braving Jam Rock, the trail leads to several flat connectors that traverse fire roads before dipping back into the trees on Helter and Skelter. These lower trails feature a mix of large rocks, log bridges and tabletops, just like the upper runs, but they cut directly through tight trees reminiscent of a horror film. Be ready for a touch of claustrophobia.
Helter and Skelter connect with Easy Street, a green run, which leads directly to the skills park entrance above River Run Village.
From Interstate 70, take Exit 205 at Silverthorne and turn left (east) onto U.S. Highway 6. Drive 6.2 miles past Lake Dillon to the free Montezuma Lot at River Run Village.
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