Buena Vista Mountain Biking: Where to ride & more
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Buena Vista is a small town in central Colorado with big plans for mountain biking. Over the past few years, the mountain biking here has gone from little-to-no singletrack to over 30 miles of purpose-built trails. And it’s good. In fact, my favorite trail of all time is located in Buena Vista – Vitamin B. It’s 6-miles of flowy (mostly) downhill fun with double black features that were built by a genius trail builder.
In addition to Vitamin B’s pro-line tech, there are also miles of trail for all levels of riders from rolling singletrack to easier versions of Vitamin B to get you comfortable on rock rolls and steep chutes.
And the fun doesn’t stop there. Buena Vista is home to other outdoor adventures like river rafting, hot springs, and ghost towns. So if you’re looking for an up-and-coming mountain biking destination with great views and even better riding, put Buena Vista on your bike-it list.
Trail Networks + Route Recommendations
There are two main mountain bike systems in Buena Vista and they’re connected by the Midland Trail, which was once an old railroad track.
It is possible to ride both trail systems in a day, but be prepared for some big mileage. In addition to these two trail systems, there’s also Vitamin B, which is a stand-alone (and my all-time favorite) trail.
- Whipple Trail System
- Midland Trail System
- Vitamin B Trail
1. Whipple Trail System
The Whipple Trail System is the northern part of the Buena Vista mountain biking trail network. The trails here are a mix of flowy singletrack and punchy rock features.
One of the most popular trails in this system is Broken Boyfriend. Personally, I thought it was ok, but not amazing. It’s probably better the second or third time you ride it when you know which features are coming up and can ride accordingly. Riding it blindly is a little jarring.
TrailForks says you can ride Broken Boyfriend in either direction, but I strongly recommend riding it south to north.
Route Recommendation: Buena Vista Boyfriend Loop
Route directions: Upper Parking > County Road 304 > Broken Boyfriend > County Road 304 > Camp Elevation
Route notes: This 8-mile loop hits the two best trails in the Whipple Trail System: Broken Boyfriend and Camp Elevation.
Do more: Instead of returning on County Road 304 (easy), dip down into the lower stuff like North Trail and Camp Elevation North. A better add-on, though, would be to do a descent down Django and climb back up Fist of Dollars.
2. Midland Trail System
Midland Trail System is located to the east of Whipple and is pretty similar. Unchained is the favorite here with its rocky features including rollers, chutes, and drops. While it is a black-rated trail on TrailForks, the builders did a great job incorporating B-lines, so most of the obstacles have go-arounds. I highly recommend riding it east to west for the best flow.
Sausage Link and Bacon Bits are also both fun, pedaly trails that access Unchained. They have minimal tech unless you opt for the alt-lines.
There are two parking areas to access Midland. If you don’t want to climb a whole lot, park in the upper parking area off of Midland Trail. If you want to get your heart rate up a bit, park at the base of Fistfull Of Dollars, although there is a day-use fee you must pay to park there.
Route Recommendation: Midland Unchained Loop
Route directions: Upper Parking > Midland > Sausage Link > Bacon Bits > Unchained > Django
Route notes: This is a fun 8-mile loop that incorporates the best of the Midland trail system. Unchained is a great trail with a lot of fun techy bits that will test and hone your skills.
Do more: If you’re still feeling frisky at the end of Unchained, you can drop down into Django and then climb back up Fistfull of Dollars.
Make it easier: if you don’t want to do Unchained, the pedal back along Midland is really nice.
Vitamin B Trail
This is one of my favorite trails of all time. It’s not for every rider because it is rated double-black for a reason, but if you’re into big natural features that actually flow well, you will dig this trail.
The first mile or so is a bit of a hike-a-bike with one section that I will never ride (but I would love to see someone clear it!) and from there it’s 6 miles of flowy singletrack mixed with steep descents, punchy ups, huge rock rollers, narrow chutes, and so much. If you’re looking for a challenge and don’t mind walking or sessioning some features, give it a go!
Vitamin B is a one-way trail, so to access it you’ll either need to shuttle to the top or climb the access road (County Road #375).
Also, the last time I rode Vitamin B, we noticed that there was a lower entrance that skips the initial climbing and hike-a-bike section. I haven’t tried dropping in here, but it might be worth checking out.
Route Recommendation: Vitamin B Shuttle
Route directions: Vitamin B Parking > Vitamin B
Route notes: You’ll either need to shuttle this trail or pedal up Fourmile Creek Road for about 6 miles. I highly recommend shuttling. This is an expert-only trail with high-consequence features.
Bike Shops & Rentals
There are two bike shops in Buena Vista that offer mountain bike rentals and fixes:
- Boneshaker Cycles – Located in downtown BV, Boneshaker Cycles offers a fleet of rental bikes including full-suspension mountain bikes. Choose from high-end brands like Santa Cruz, Juliana, and Yeti.
- Black Burro Bikes – Located right at the base of the Whipple Trail System, Black Burro bikes does a little bit of everything from fixing bikes to renting them to serving coffee and beer.
Other things to do in Buena Vista, Colorado
In addition to awesome mountain biking, Buena Vista also offers a number of other outdoor adventures and experiences, making it a rad destination for all. Definitely get a few days of pedaling in and then maybe check out some of these fun things to do.
Buena Vista is home to natural hot springs and there are two hot springs resorts that are worth checking out, especially if you’ve put some miles on your legs. Mt. Princeton Hot Spring Resort is 25 minutes down the road and has several pools and tubs to soak in. Don’t be put off by its commercial exterior, it’s actually a really nice place to hang out for a few hours. There’s also Cottonwood Hot Springs which is a little more rustic and less built up.
Many visitors come to Buena Vista for its river rafting along the Arkansas River. If you want a break from pedaling, sign up for a full-day or half-day river trip. It’s a blast!
St. Elmo Ghost Town
St. Elmo’s is one of the most accessible and well-preserved ghost towns in the west. It was founded in 1880 and served as a mining town for 2,000 people for 40 years until the mining industry started to wane and the railroad eventually discontinued service. Today, it is still lightly inhabited, so it’s not entirely a ghost town, but it’s worth driving up to if you have the time.
Where to Stay in Buena Vista
Buena Vista Camping
Nearly 80% of the land around Buena Vista is public land, so there is tons of dispersed camping. In fact, you can camp at the County Road 304 Parking area where the Whipple and Midland trail systems start.
There are also several paid campgrounds including Turtle Rock Campground and a Buena Vista KOA at the base of the Whipple and Midlands trail systems.
Buena Vista Hotels
If you want to splurge, the Surf Hotel & Chateau is a super cool boutique hotel located right near the Whipple trail system and just steps away from Black Burro Bikes. They also have a great restaurant and bar for post-ride food and drink.
Buena Vista Restaurants
- Wesley & Rose: Located in the boutique Surf Hotel, Wesley & Rose is a classy dining experience and a definite must if you visit Buena Vista.
- Simple Eatery & Spoon It Up: Focusing on fresh, casual, and often local food, Simple Eatery is a staple in town. It was also voted best burger in Buena Vista!
- The Blend At Buena Vista: The is a cool cafe with an eclectic menu. Choose from a variety of smoothies (the Princeton is delish) or fill up with a stuffed quesadilla, burrito, or bagel sandwich.
- Louie’s Ice Cream Shoppe: Only open seasonally (so check their FB page), Louie’s Ice Cream Shoppe makes the best ice cream in town. Need I say more?
- The Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar: A boutique craft beer bar located inside the old Buena Vista jailhouse. They serve a rotating selection of craft beers from around Colorado, the United States, and abroad. They also have a wine list and small plates.
- Eddyline Brewery & Taproom and Eddyline Restaurant: Eddyline has two establishments in Buena Vista to showcase their beers and pizza. The Brewery and Taproom is located in downtown while the restaurant is over at South Main along the Arkansas River.
Check out more Colorado biking adventures
Have you explored the Buena Vista mountain biking scene? What did you think? What were your favorite trails or link-ups? Let us know in the comments!
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