As the chairlift approached, I suddenly got nervous. It had been 15 years since I loaded a bike on a chairlift rack, and I didn't want to royally screw up in front of a crowd and become file footage for America's Funniest Videos. Typically, I like to earn my downhills by riding to the top, but when you're lowlander at nearly 9,000 feet - the elevation of Trestle Bike Park in Winter Park, Colorado - you won't hear any complaints about not riding uphill. I was breathing hard just pushing my bike onto the rack, which I managed to do without embarrassing myself.
Although Winter Park has had lift operated mountain bike trails since the early 1990's, Trestle Bike Park is a new venture which takes lift-operated mountain biking to a new level. Trestle claims it is the fastest growing bike park in the U.S., and offers a wide range of trails from tight, technical, rocky singletrack on Mountain Goat to wide open, fast and flowing double track on Green World. And with black diamond expert trails running adjacent to green circle beginner trails and blue square intermediates, it's a bike park which the entire family can enjoy.
Feel like shredding the gnar on your 10-inch big-hit downhill rig? Test your mettle on the mountain's most fearsome double black diamond, Trestle Downhill. This is the downhill used for Crankworx Colorado. But be warned, the trail is unforgiving. While not the most insane technical trail, Trestle Downhill is very tight and steep in spots, dropping you down the face of rocks and roots and pointing you directly at 'magnetic trees' - trees which lay directly in the fall line. And like every great bike park, Trestle offers plenty of optional North Shore style ramps. So long as you have some skill, disc brakes and at least 4 inches of travel, Trestle Downhill can be cleaned, so long as you bring your A-game.
For a less technical, wide-open, high-speed, ripping downhill, be sure to ride The Boulevard. Hitting velocities in excess of 30 mph while gliding off perfectly shaped tabletops, wooden ramps and massive berms, The Boulevard is guaranteed to leave a smile on your face and a quick chairlift back to the top for a second run. It's too good to only ride once. But on your second run, be sure to try out Bear Arms, a tight, technical, rocky black diamond that parallels The Boulevard as you approach the bottom of the mountain.
Looking for features and jumps? Check out Boot Camp. It features numerous tabletop jumps, optional North Shore ramps and an insanely fun C-wall with banking in excess of 45 degrees. Ball Ucanb is an offshoot which features lots of wooden ramps and drops, if you're into that kinda thing. Rainmaker is a brand new trail guaranteed to get your jump on.
And don't make the mistake of skipping green circles just because you might think they're only for rank beginners. One of the longest and most fun trails on the mountain, Green World, is a trail that can be enjoyed by both beginners and advanced riders alike. It's wide, fast and flows like a river downhill into perfectly banked corners and gentle lips you can either roll or launch.
Double Jeopardy and Shy Ann are also must-do trails which both downhillers and cross-country riders can enjoy. Like most every trail at Trestle Bike Park, the features are optional, so you're not forced to ride a feature you don't want to.
Are you more of a cross-country rider and want to earn a little extra downhill? Take the Zephyr Chair, then ride to Upper Roof of the Rockies, which peaks you out at more than 11,000 feet. Then roll through Fantasy Meadow to Mountain Goat. At the top, Mountain Goat is very technical, with big rocks, roots and drops scattered everywhere. Towards the bottom, Mountain Goat really opens up into a full throttle downhill. Then climb out Little Vasquez to Lower Arapahoe, a mild black diamond which isn't all that technical. Then finish up with Green World for a loop that will take you the better part of an hour.
If you're from far out of town and don't feel like lugging your bike along with you, leave it at home. Trestle Bike Park has an incredibly well equipped shop with a squadron of full-on downhill bikes including the Yeti 303 RDH, the Specialized Demo 8 II and bikes from Scott, Kona, Cove and Norco. And for those forgetful types, the shop also rents helmets and protective gear.
If you're looking for more of a cross-country full suspension bike, head across the way to the Epic Singletrack Shop, which features the new Scott Genius - an incredibly versatile 28 pound full-suspension bike capable of running all the trails at Trestle from Green World to Trestle Downhill. There is nothing like riding a bike that can go from 180mm of travel to fully locked out in just two clicks of a button right next to your front shifter.
While on the lift to the top of the mountain, I chatted with a 17-year-old downhill shredder from Denver. I asked him his opinion of Trestle. He lifted his full face above his head and proclaimed, "Best park I've ridden yet."
Check out trestlebikepark.com for all the nitty-gritty details.
If You Go
Ride if You Like to Climb:
-Upper Roof of the Rockies
Ride if You Like to Jump:
-Jump Trail (duh!)
Ride if You Dare:
After You Ride:
-Cheeky Monk - Belgian Brewery