On the trail: Climb worthwhile to Sky Mountain Park | AspenTimes.com

On the trail: Climb worthwhile to Sky Mountain Park

Janet Urquhart/Pitkin County Open Space and Trails courtesy photo

I thought the wildflowers on the Crown were about as good as it gets this spring. That was before riding Sky Mountain Park on Sunday. All I can say is, “Wow.”

I was riding with a friend and, more often then not, struggling to keep up. It was a great consolation to pop over steep, short rises and be amid an intense floral mix of yellows, pinks and intense reds. It makes you forget your legs are burning.

While the flowers were good along the length of the rolling singletrack trail on top of the property, they were thickest on the side toward the airport radar installation and Highway 82. I’d advise checking it out before the sun bakes nature’s delicacies.

Sky Mountain Park is fun because you have to pay your dues to enjoy it. We parked at Buttermilk, traveled the short section of road and pedestrian trail to Lada Vrany’s old place and then detoured onto radar road, a miserable route if ever there was one. The road is always rideable, but the grade is relentless until you top out. Life’s circumstances didn’t allow us to ride until early afternoon, so parts of the south-facing road felt like a blast furnace.

The climb is soon forgotten, though, when you get to the sweet singletrack at the top. There are harder trails. There are more technical trails. There are more scenic trails. But the Sky Mountain Park singletrack is well-rounded in all those categories. After cruising across the top, we got to the payoff — the thrilling downhill featuring eight or so switchbacks on the Snowmass Village side of the trail.

Once to the valley floor, we looped around High Line and Low Line trails and climbed back up Sky Mountain Park for a double dose of wildflowers.

My riding partner was Shawn, owner of Phoenix Fitness. An added bonus of riding with a friend who happens to be a personal trainer is learning all the things I do wrong for performance and recovery. Beer, for example, shouldn’t be my only form of carb replacement after a ride, I was told.

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