Another great day riding the Steamboat Bike Park! This 4th of July, we brought out the XC bikes for a little high-altitude riding. The objective was to ride the Sunshine Trail, and everything else was flexible. Many mountain bikers who live, work or play in Steamboat Springs are unaware how good the XC riding is in the Bike Park. Especially when you’ve overslept and now it’s too hot to ride. Or perhaps you’ve ridden the trails in town all week, and you want a little variety. It’s just a short gondola ride up to about 10 degree cooler weather and super fun trails. If you’re into climbing, Valley View will also get you to the top. We were running late, so we jumped in the gondola.

From the Thunderhead Peak Trail Hub (gondola building), head out on Elkhead to the Rainbow Saddle Trail Hub. From there, hang a right up Duster. It goes quick. Look for the signs to hop onto Sunshine. Here’s a link to the Trail Map.

You’ll meander in and out of the trees for a couple of miles. The view is incredible. This is the intersection to either continue on Sunshine or head up Cathy’s Cutoff to the top. We chose to keep heading on Sunshine because we were ready for the downhill! This is where this trail gets really special.

You dip and dive in and out of thick aspen groves and evergreens. The air is noticeably cooler and has a sweet smell to it. It’s easy to get really excited and stop paying attention, but don’t forget this is a multi-use trail. Watch for hikers and bikers coming the other direction.

Look for little bonus features and creative lines. This trail is full of hidden gems and great views. Don’t forget to pack your GoPro and leave it running on photo mode. The trail isn’t fast enough to make an action movie, but the pictures come out really cool!

Only 77 degrees on one of the hottest days of the year. Not too shabby.

From here, we were planning to take Pioneer to Creekside, but Pioneer was closed while a few dead trees were removed. No problem! We took Elkhead back to the Thunderhead Saddle, then let loose on Rustler’s Ridge. While Rustler’s is a real DH trail made for DH bikes, it’s not too scary on a long-travel trail bike. If you’re new to this or on a small-travel bike, I’d recommend Tenderfoot. It’s way more XC bike friendly.

You have to love this town. After a great ride, we cleaned up and then headed downtown to grab some dinner and enjoy the fireworks. The 4th of July is a pretty big deal in Steamboat Springs. If you missed it this year, be sure to make the trip next year!


Mike McCoy, Downhill Mountain Biker

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