Still want a great outdoor workout on a day off from the slopes? Crave more cardio after downhill skiing? Snowmass Village has options—lots of them, in fact. Kick and glide on rolling cross-country ski trails, snowshoe among snow-tipped conifers to scenic vistas, pedal a fat bike along packed-down trails, or join the intensely aerobic uphill skiing craze. Remember that the altitude will make things seem harder than at home. Here’s what to do for a great workout, and where.
With close to 60 miles of free, groomed trails connecting Snowmass, Aspen, and Basalt, the local Nordic network is sometimes dubbed the fifth ski area. Rent cross-country skis at the Aspen Cross-Country Center; a
lap around the relatively flat trail system there gives a good intro to skinny skis. For your workout, head to the Snowmass golf course, where Trail 60 traces two sides of the course’s perimeter, with enough small hills to get your heart rate cranking; make it a loop by connecting with dog-friendly Labrador Lane. For the ultimate challenge, as well as a scenic grand tour, pick up the Owl Creek Trail by the Two Creeks base area and ski for 8.5 miles all the way to the Aspen Rec Center; you can return to Snowmass by bus.
The real fun of snowshoeing is when you’re traveling atop deep snow, thanks to the flotation your gear provides; it also gives you more of a workout than just shuffling across packed-down trails. Find rentals at the Aspen Cross-Country Center, then head to a route like the Tom Blake Trail, which climbs fairly gently across slopes below the ski area; for a lung-busting climb, do an out-and-back up Anaerobic Nightmare, which intersects Tom Blake.
For a fun, low-key loop that you can lap for more mileage, local Barb Peckler recommends taking the Highline and Lowline trails, accessible near the roundabout by the Snowmass Recreation Center
The south part of the Rim Trail is popular for winter hiking (wear a traction device like Yaktrax on your boots for secure footing); your reward for about 700 feet of steady climbing is an amazing view of the whole ski area and of Mount Daly. If you’re on snowshoes, go past the viewpoint turnoff to the continuation of the Rim Trail, which doesn’t get packed down by hikers. “Very few people do that,” says Peckler, “You’ll get away from everyone up there.”
Another packed-down hiking route starts behind the Snowmass Center on the Mountain View Trail. Follow the gentle switchbacks until you connect to the Hawk Ridge Trail, and follow it to the Rim Trail. Hike down Rim, then head up Deerfield Drive and cross the condo parking lot to reconnect with the Mountain View Trail and return to the Center.
Road bikes, mountain bikes, gravel bikes, electric bikes … the Roaring Fork Valley is cycling crazy. In fact, our area was designated a Gold-Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association—one of only seven worldwide—for the wealth of trails and amenities. And locals know that winter’s no reason to stop pedaling.
To that end, the Town of Snowmass Village grooms more than 8 miles of paved trails for winter recreation, including fat biking (if you’re not familiar, fat bikes have super-wide tires that give you traction on packed snow). Again, it’s the Aspen Cross-Country Center that provides fat bike rentals. Get a solid workout by biking 2.5 miles uphill on the Brush Creek Trail from the Snowmass Rec Center to Base Village or the Snowmass Mall. Add an out and back on a portion of the Owl Creek Trail (different than the Owl Creek Nordic Trail mentioned earlier) for extra mileage and scenery.
You’ve likely noticed skiers going up the mountain? They’re using alpine touring (or AT) gear; the bindings adjust to free your heels for easier uphill hiking, then lock your boots into place like you’re used to for the downhill, while climbing skins stuck to the ski bottoms provide traction. It’s a heck of workout.
Snowmass has four designated routes for uphillers (be sure to familiarize yourself with the various regulations, too). Rent an AT set-up at the
Ute Mountaineer in Aspen or at Cripple Creek Backcountry at Aspen Highlands.
Consider starting with the route from Base Village to the top of the Elk Camp Gondola and restaurant, which has the least amount of elevation gain. Ready for more? Local Kathy Fry, who’s an avid uphiller, loves the route up to Sam’s Knob: “It’s sunny and safe—well-marked and very few trail crossings—and the various levels of steepness keep things interesting,” she says. Fry also recommends uphilling to High Alpine restaurant, which combines a warm-up along Fanny Hill, then follows sections of varied terrain. She notes, “My favorite part of this route is the long stretch that meanders through deep forest [along lower Coffee Pot]. It’s forest-bathing at its finest.”
There’s no better way to follow a good outdoors exercise sesh than by doing some yoga. For that, turn to local expert Aaron King, who has a studio in Base Village (and gives classes outdoors in summer). Follow King Yoga on Instagram and check out the schedule posted each Monday for that week’s donation-based live-streamed classes.