The Fleeting beauty of the Fall in Colorado is a sight to behold. It’s worth traveling around the world to see. If you’re lucky enough to live in Colorado, this window of cool temperatures, clear skies, and hillsides exploding with the amazing golden leaves is one of the prime reasons to live here. Getting out into the hills this time of year is a mad rush. The season begins in late August, as photos begin to appear on social media of sporadic yellow leaves in a sea of green. Soon enough, a wave of colour starts to spread, picking out the Aspen groves against the staid green of the ponderosa and lodgepole pines. The Aspen forests are confined to a narrow band of elevation through the mountains. The lower slopes are too warm, while the exposed high alpine areas do not have the soil to sustain such dense trees. So it’s the mid country that gets the glory of colour. The alpine valleys, the plateau, and the heavily wooded foothills that lead up to the bigger peaks. This is where the good mountain biking is to be found.
There are certain rides that come alive in these few weeks. Kenosha Pass – part of the Colorado Trail – is a short and accessible route that is lined on both sides by Aspens. The narrow trail bed and flowing nature of the trail makes it a must ride in the autumn. The southwest of the state – the area surrounding the towns of Telluride and Durango – are already known as a haven for trail riding, but the addition of the changing foliage just enhances the experience. With the Gondola between Telluride and Mountain Village staying open through the year, this is your best chance for some late season lift-accessed high country riding.
Away from these well known honeypots, though, you can have the mountains to yourself. The crowds thin down as people begin to think about skiing, and by the time the last of the leaves are clinging to the trees, you can ride for hours and hours without seeing another soul. It’s mountain bike heaven.
Balancing the weather this time of year is easier than you might think. Although it’s not unheard of to have early season snow storms blanket the hills in mid-September, it’s rare, and they are normally forecast a long way ahead. That means the only thing you need to battle with is the chilly mornings. The smell of the air, and the crisp chill hanging in the trees just adds to the feeling of wildness that autumn brings. I normally ride pretty light, but I have a WINDSTOPPER vest that normally travels with me this time of year. I’ve found that a pair of arm warmers and a heavier vest can go a long way in keeping you warm.