Arapahoe Basin Ski Area launches mountain bike trails

Morgan Tilton
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area builds a mountain bike trail systemPhoto provided by Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

The first mountain bike trail system at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is under construction on the front of the mountain. The trails will be finished and open to the public in summer 2023.

Riders can celebrate because the new network is entirely comprised of singletrack—meaning you won’t be riding a double-wide forest service road.

The cross-country style routes will include a series of optional loops that total approximately 10 miles.

A 4-mile loop within the trail system is complete and ready to ride now.

What makes the trail system one-of-a-kind

The trail system is unique because its routes are not lift-served or downhill-centric nor does the terrain include bike park features.

Many ski areas that build trails for mountain bikers include lift access and summer pass options, mountain bike lessons and mountain bike rentals, as well as trails tailored to practicing skills with features such as jumps.

At Arapahoe Basin, the system is bare-bones and backcountry-style. The bike-specific trails also go through alpine terrain above tree line and offer picturesque views of the surrounding ridgelines and mountains.

The base of the ski area sits at 10,780 feet and the summit reaches 12,456 feet, which will be the highest point of the mountain bike trail system when it’s finished.

Berms, rollers, and multiple lines are integrated throughout the trail design.

What the trail system includes

For safety and flow, the trail system includes a main ascent-only trail called Argentine North Fork and a descent trail called Wheels Up. Note: the ascent trail Argentine North Fork is open two-way to hikers, as well.

Riders can climb the Argentine North Fork trail to the Black Mountain Lodge at 11,560 feet, which is midway up the mountain. From there, mountain bikers can descend Wheels Up.

By next summer, an ascent-only trail will be built from mid-mountain to summit. A directional, bike-only loop and another descent trail will be added.

Overall, the trails are tailored to and best for intermediate and advanced riders.

Cost, resources, and rules for the trail

The new trails were designed by Trail Solutions IMBA Trail Development Services, which also helped build portions of the trails.

The construction team includes Joey Klein, the Trail Solutions IMBA Trail Development Services Community Engagement Specialist, and Mike Repyak, director of planning and design at Trail Solutions IMBA Trail Development Services.

Formerly, Repyak helped design ski runs at A-Basin including Montezuma Bowl and The Beavers and Steep Gullies, when he worked for SE Group, an outdoor-focused design firm, for 15 years, according to A-Basin. In other words, Repyak knows the area extremely well.

Klein, a previous A-Basin night janitor, designed the Argentine North Fork ascent trail and the original outline of the Wheels Up downhill track.

Visitors can ride the trail for free. Bike rentals and shuttles will not be available.

Given the ski area is leased on United States Forest Service land, electric mountain bikes (also known as e-mountain bikes) are not permitted.

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Adventure journalist Morgan Tilton covers the outdoors with a focus on travel, industry news and human endurance. Featured in more than 70 publications, she’s a recipient of more than a dozen North American Travel Journalists Association awards.

Crested Butte, CO

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