Mountain biking is better…when you are actually in the mountains! The biking we do at home in Michigan, at sea level, on dirt trails with no rocks, on gently rolling hills, I pondered. Is that really mountain biking? Of course, the genre encompasses a wide range of terrain, but I decided my Michigan version of riding does not have the sex appeal like the mountain trails cut above 10,000 feet with panoramic views of the Rockies. Enter Fall MTB in Frisco, Colorado, with my Lake Michigan sea legs and lungs attempting to pedal and breathe at elevation.
We were humbled but up for a challenge. The golden stands of turning Aspens and stately evergreens had a good chuckle all week at my gasping attempts at climbing to their peaks! Our first order of business was a stop at Rebel Sports for bike fitting and high-performance rentals. The crew hooked us up with two Transition Spires with plenty of travel to absorb the rocky and technical terrain. Besides the bikes and gear, we left armed with trail tips and ride route suggestions.
Hotel Frisco & Main Street of the Rockies
It was a milestone trip: Josh’s first visit to Colorado. What a great perspective to see the state again through a brand-new lens. I relished a warmer weather visit since most of my CO trips have been on snow and skis. Frisco’s quaint charm was a natural choice, especially with the pack of amazing memories from previous visits. It’s accessible, an easy drive from Denver, and smack in the middle of six ski resorts bookended by views of Mount Royal. We chose Hotel Frisco as our stay-and-play pad on Main Street, a short pedal to the Peaks Trailhead and less than a mile from Frisco Adventure Park and the Peninsula Trail System. We parked the rental truck out back and pedaled around for a fantastic week on two wheels. We made a point to be back in the lobby (graced with the giant moose head mount on the two-story stone fireplace) each day between 4-6 p.m. for the Hotel Frisco complimentary happy hour. Après -ski is a storied Colorado tradition, and bonus, Après bike extends to summer and fall.
Frisco in Fall, Peninsula Trails
Armed with new full-suspension toys (Transition Spires), we couldn’t resist a quick warm-up and afternoon romp around the recently upgraded Peninsula Trail System (in 2020). Four picturesque miles on the Perimeter traverse around Lake Dillon with plenty of other connector trails. There’s some solid XC mileage to be had. The combo of mountain peaks and the reservoir’s deep blue was an impressive way to start the adventure. Josh and I also stopped and gawked at some big air action from the top of the bike park jumps, and then we tried out the adjacent slopestyle lines (Royal Roller and the dual slalom) with a nice progression of cruiser greens with approachable berms to big jumps and drops on the advanced runs. It was the first day, so I stuck to green and easy, keeping the rubber side down.
The Peaks Trail (Frisco to Breckenridge and back)
We had to experience the Classic Peaks Trail –but I missed the local memo a day late. “Oh yeah, take the shuttle to Breck and then ride a sweet downhill back to Frisco.” On our second day, I suggested to Josh that we do an out-and-back starting in Frisco on the Peaks Trail. It would be a lovely pedal to Breck and back, stopping at Rainbow Lake with plenty of views of Breckenridge Resort.
We rolled out of Hotel Frisco on a crisp morning. I quickly shed my riding jacket at the first punchy climb. Punchy turned epic, and after three-plus miles of climbing to the trail’s highest elevation at 10,230 ft., I left my bike soul on a nearby rock! I stared catatonically at the magnificent snow-capped fourteeners in the distance while conjuring up an image of an e-bike stashed in the woods that could magically transport me up the next climb. We crushed some PBJ wraps and snacks and then readied for the return. Thankfully, we were rewarded with a rocky and colorful romp downhill to Frisco, 1000 feet, and a 7% grade, to be exact. My legs and lungs survived, barely. Next time, take the shuttle to Breck to start.
Frisco Adventure Park (Fall MTB Frisco, CO)
Our next days were filled with more fun fall riding. Frisco Adventure Park and The Peninsula Trails is a true variety pack, tastes for bike newbies, and big meals for experts and downhillers. Plus, it’s all connected via the paved Rec Path minutes from downtown Frisco. We returned several times to cover all the trail options and roll past the Nordic Center Lodge, the marina, and the paved pump track. Josh gave the newly built Aftermath a high mark, “That trail is better than most bike park downhills. I’ve never seen crazy steep berms; it was all I could do to make it down intact.” Sky Pilot was not far behind Aftermath, with less severe consequences on the jumps and drops. Josh convinced me to follow him down. Once was enough for me, I elected to coast down Eureka Patch’s fun rolling curves to a return via Tip Top and the always spectacular reservoir views.
There’s also sweet riding nearby in Breckenridge; park at Carter Park and be ready to start with a climb. Plan a route that includes Side Door; you will not be disappointed. And, through Labor Day timing, Keystone, Copper, and Breckenridge have gondola or lift-served bike options.
Main Street Eat & Drink
The biking, the elevation, we were perpetually hungry and thirsty. From Hotel Frisco, it was a short walk on Main Street to Highside Brewing for post-ride Après bike celebrations. Bonus: we got to spend quality time with family (Kim, Sonia, Lynne) lucky enough to live in Frisco. We had a great meal at 5th Avenue Grille: Josh had the Ahi tuna drunken noodle bowl, and most of us devoured the half-pound blue cheese and caramelized onion-topped burgers.
I stopped at the Butterhorn Bakery daily for freshly baked ham and Swiss croissants or the strawberry cream cheese-filled version for breakfast and snacks. I stuck to Hotel Frisco’s coffee bar for my wake-up ritual and each night, we melted into the plush bedding and extra pillows of our king bed. The rooms are way more spacious than a typical hotel, with a couch and coffee table area to spread out and relax. There’s also a secret patio to stash your bikes and cozy timber chairs on the front patio, grab a local craft beer, and watch the action on the Main Street of the Rockies.
The best time for a fall MTB Frisco, Colorado visit – the fall season when the mountain peaks are lit with Aspens turning a bright gold! Skip the ski crowds and the down jacket and rent bikes instead. It’s a great time to hike, too, so be sure to stop at Sapphire Point for panoramic views of Lake Dillon. No matter your favorite season, explore the mountains, stroll on Main Street, and celebrate getting outdoors with an Après-bike, hike, or ski. There’s no wrong answer.