Aspen Ridge Gravel Loop

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Salida, Colorado
Date Published:
October 12, 2022
Gravel Ratio:
100% Gravel
Difficulty Rating:
Enjoyability Rating:
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This ride has it all: some steep, short, rocky inclines, fun descents, mostly smooth gravel, rolling hills and fields, piney forests, aspen groves, and a kicker near the end.

Amazingly, there were very few cars, even on the weekend.

This route is lovely at other times of the year, but it is especially spectacular in the Fall when leaves are changing colors.

The aspen groves, views of the Collegiate Peaks and rolling hills towards Hartsel, are exceptional.


Not really a downside for those of us who love climbing, but the early climbing is not trivial. Miles 2.5-8, although gorgeous, are mostly a 4-6% grade (there are some short 8-11% grades sprinkled in), so settle in for a challenge and enjoy it. Likewise, at about mile 29-32 there are some steep sections, including up to a 13% grade.

Do this ride is you love to climb and want some challenging ups, sweeping downs, and your eyeballs full of joy.

Other Notes:

Check out the review for more details on the route and the area. Their route starts in Salida which adds 13 miles, 6mi of which are on pavement, and 1500 feet of elevation gain. You can make this a 1 or 2 nighter bikepacking trip.

Start at the Cottonwood Tour Trailhead parking lot, which is about 6.5 miles up Ute Trail (Hwy 175) at the intersection of Hwy 175 and FS-181-A.
There are port-a-potties at the Cottonwood Tour Trailhead.
There are no services or commercial water along the way. In the spring there may be streams to filter from, but consult the review for those details.

I rode 40mm tires on a Trek Checkpoint. There were a few sandy and rocky patches where I may have benefited from fatter tires, but I've ridden this route 4x and it's always been fine on the gravel bike.

There are mellow, free-ranging cattle for the back half of the ride to be aware of.

Recommendations for places to visit in Salida: 
Oveja Negra for awesome bike bags/packs hand made in Salida
Subculture Cyclery for Salida's best bike shop
The Little Red Hen for gluten free scones and other goodies

Driving Directions

Route Contributor

Guest: Julie Wolf

Hello everyone! I'm a Denver and Salida, CO-based rider who delights in all the bikes -- road, MTB, gravel, and bikepacking -- and am psyched to be out there doing fun things in nature with other riders. My sisters were great at sports and it wasn't until I was in a PhD program in Boulder playing serious ultimate frisbee with Colorado's Rare Air, that I identified as an athlete. Ever the late-bloomer, I found road biking about 10 years ago, picked up a gravel bike in April 2022, and now there's no turning back. My favorite parts of riding are perhaps yours: I love the hard work of the uphill, and I love being in nature. Now, at age 55 and dialing back work, I'm grateful to be playing outside with all the riders and looking to meeting more of you.

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