Challenging out and back ride from Buttermilk Ski Area to Snowmass. The trail has many steep climbs and rocky descents.
The Government Trail begins just outside of the town of Aspen. The clearly marked trail begins with a very steep descent to Maroon Creek, which it crosses on a bridge. Ride/portage up the steep switchbacks out of the creek bottom onto and across the Buttermilk ski runs and into the aspen forest (this is the longest climb of the ride). The trail varies between buffed and highly (almost, but not quite unrideable) rocky. The further along you go, the better the trail becomes. The trail contours the hillside as it traverses toward Snowmass. Six miles out, expect longer, half-mile-long climbs and descents. Pass several side trails, but remain on the main trail at all junctions. The trail ends at a dirt road on the edge of the Snowmass ski area. Return as you came. Be alert for hikers and other bikers on this popular trail.
How to get there:
From Denver, drive approximately 72 miles west on I-70 and turn off at the Copper Mountain/Hwy. 91 Exit. Follow Hwy. 91 through Leadville. Twenty-one miles past Leadville, turn west on Hwy. 82 and begin the stunning drive below the 14,000 foot summits of the Collegiate Peaks range to the top of Independence Pass. The descent into Aspen is reminiscent of BMW ads shot in Europe, on very narrow roads with rock retaining walls, great, swooping "s" turns and tremendous drop-offs. Drive through the town of Aspen and turn left just beyond the town onto Maroon Creek Road. Park at the tennis courts on the right side of the road. The trailhead is just beyond the tennis courts.