Hit the Trails this Spring: Where to Ride Early-Season

As skiing winds down for the season and our winter's worth of snow continues to melt, we start to hang up our skis and tune up our bikes to hit the trails this summer. We can always take a spring bike trip to Fruita or Moab to get some pedaling in before peak season here in Grand County, but there are also some sweet spots for spring riding right in our backyard! The Phases in Tabernash and Granby Ranch's cross-country trails are some of the first trails to melt and dry out each spring. 


This south-facing network of trails minutes off Highway 40 in Tabernash has been a long-time local favorite for spring riding. The sun exposure the area gets allows the Phases be the first ready-to-ride trail system each year. 

The network of trails sits on BLM land and had its inception as more of a grassroots endeavor: over 20 years ago, the area was open to dirt bikers, and riders "burned in" the trails. Once the area was designated non-motorized, the trails were still popular for spring riding but minimally maintained and subject to erosion. 

In 2018, the Headwaters Trail Alliance jumped in and spearheaded an overhaul of the trail system. They partnered with local governments, nonprofits, and volunteers to revamp the area. They started work in 2020, sprucing up old trails and building new. There are now close to  14 miles of single track interconnected with 10-ish miles of roads. Trails are mostly intermediate to advanced, offering big views, big rocks, and fun descents with flowy trails like "Phased and Confused," climb-optimized trails like "Salad Spinner," and smile-inducing downhills like "Salad Bowl" (which even winds through a rock "cave" with an optional log skinny as you emerge). The creativity and technical options make these new trails worth checking out year-round - it's just an added bonus that they're the first to melt out!

To reach the Phases, take the turn toward Devil's Thumb Ranch off Highway 40 (CR 83 - just before the bridge over the railroad tracks before downtown Tabernash if you're coming from Fraser). Go past the pond on the right, over the bridge, and turn left onto CR 84 at the “T”. Drive over the next bridge; then take the first left onto BLM 2751 (Strawberry Rd.). There's a parking area on your left not far up the road. Or you can drive to the top to find another parking area - just ride around the gate to hop on the trails. Or you can keep driving on Strawberry Rd., following it down the valley to find a third parking area on your right. 


Nestled above the base of Granby Ranch and between Winter Park Highlands and Val Moritz Village, Granby Ranch's cross-country bike trails are typically not far behind the Phases when it comes to spring ridability. Granby Ranch's bike park doesn't typically open until the end of May, the cross-country trails can be ready well before the lifts start turning for summer. If you hop on some of these trails this spring, be sure to pick up a trail pass (available for purchase online: $15/day; $169/season). 

From beginner to advanced, their trails have a little something for everyone. Stick to "Main Street," an old fire road that runs between the lower and upper trails, or hop on "Cabin Trail" (one of our favorite mellow climbs or flowy, intermediate downhills), "Two Stroke" (short and technical with views for days at the top), or "Yin" and "Yang" (an intermediate-to-advanced pair of trails that has it all). 

To access the trails from Winter Park Highlands, turn onto CR 85/87 in Tabernash (just next to Indian Peaks Rental). Follow the road to the top, where you'll find a parking area. Once you're on your bike, continue down the road and around the gate.  You can take a quick left for a challenging climb up (aptly-named) "Out of Gas" or take "Main Street" up to connect to more trails. 


With our relatively unpredictable spring weather, there's no hard and fast date trails are ready to ride each year, but you can stay up-to-date on trail conditions through Headwaters Trail Alliance. They post regular updates on trail conditions so you can be in-the-know when trails are ready to ride this spring. If you're checking out a trail you're not sure about, just keep HTA's motto in mind: "If you're leaving a track, please turn back!"


We'll definitely be taking advantage of early-season riding and hope to bump into you on the trail. If you're looking for more mountain biking information or recommendations, feel free to reach out - we'd love to connect with you!

Posted by Leah Bishop on


Email Send a link to post via Email

Leave A Comment

e.g. yourwebsitename.com
Please note that your email address is kept private upon posting.