One of the nicest things about mountain towns? You can walk their breadth in a matter of minutes. Small size notwithstanding, however, many locals and visitors prefer to pedal. For a number of reasons- eco-consciousness, limited parking, safety- many ski towns have established bike paths. Curbed Ski has rounded up some of the best for you- from Tahoe to Stowe- with regard to scenery, historical interest, convenience, construction, or location.
Truckee River Bike Trail: Explore the North Shore, from Tahoe City to Squaw Valley (A Class 1 path is coming soon to downtown Truckee, with expansion plans to Donner Lake). This 6.8 mile trail has connectors to fishing, picnicking, and rafting sites, as well as access to the Tahoe Rim Trail. Check it out.
Wenatchee River Road, Leavenworth, WA: Okay, it's not technically a bike path, as it's not paved, but it's right outside of town, near the crest of the glorious Cascades. It's an easy, meandering 8.5-mile cruiser with some hills and plenty of swimming holes. Do note it's on private land although it's a public trail, so behave.
Wood River Trails, Ketchum: Sun Valley's swanky rep can overshadow laidback Ketchum's more rustic charms. A ride along the riverside multi-use "Bike Path" is one of the best ways to spend a summer or fall day. The Wood River Valley is aptly named: there are sections of path thick with vegetation; as you head out toward the towns of Hailey and Bellevue, you're pedaling on the prairie. Another plus: the 20-mile Wood River Trail System is designed as a self-guided historical tour, with interpretive signs that detail the region's mining, sheep ranching, and ski history. Note: The main trail will be undergoing renovation and restoration through September, so check the website for weekly section closure updates.
Telluride Bike Path: It's literally impossible not to have great views in Telluride, and while Curbed Ski loves the dirt San Miguel River Trail, it's technically not bike-friendly past the west end, where it connects to the Valley Floor. This all-too-brief, 3-mile paved path alongside Highway 145 will help ease any box canyon-induced claustrophobia you may feel. It connects to the Galloping Goose Trail in Lawson Hill, and also provides access to the Valley Floor at the Shell station/San Miguel Country Store.
The Recreational Path, Crested Butte: Short and sweet at just over two miles, the "Rec Path" is the connector from the town proper up to Mt. Crested Butte. Although it runs alongside the road, the scenery is gorge in summer, especially during the wildflower bloom around mid-July. Pedal past meadows and pasture (mountain vistas in the background) and check out the interpretive plaques along the way for notes on the geology, history, and flora and fauna of the region.
Rio Grande Trail, Aspen: Call us biased, but this is one of the most stunning- and ingenious- bike paths to be found anywhere in the U.S. Part of the former Denver-Rio Grande Railroad bed, the path begins at Herron Park in Aspen, and runs the length of the Roaring Fork Valley, to Glenwood Springs, 41 miles away. The Aspen-to-Carbondale leg is particularly alluring; you'll pass waterfalls cascading off of hematite rock face, and cross wooden railroad trestle bridges.
Vail Pass Bike Path: This 8.7-mile path is a butt-burner- while paved, it gains 1,831 feet in elevation, topping out at 10,603 feet. If you're fit (or hitch a ride to the summit), it's worth the pain: the scenery through verdant East Vail, up the pass, and over the undulating summit to Copper Mountain is alpine-amazing. If you're a novice, opt for the relaxing Gore Creek Path in Vail Village; if you're feeling ambitious, it extends down valley all the way to Edwards.
Jackson to Jenny Lake, Jackson Hole: Dedicated bike paths have long been a pet project for the community; road cycling in Grand Teton National Park has been deadly due to distracted drivers, and the region now has many bike paths. This long-awaited paved, multi-use stretch was years in the making, and completed in 2012. It runs to the south end of the popular lake, providing classic Teton views that are, hands down, some of America's most staggeringly beautiful scenery.
Stowe Bike Path: Open year-round, this 5.3-mile paver starts in the village, and goes over the proverbial (West Branch) river and through the woods. Don't forget the camera- it's classic New England, scenery, from the starting point at the sharp-spired Stowe Congregational Church to the 11 arched wooden bridges you'll cross en route.
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