From our boondocking site we can see the top of Pajarito Ski Area. Derek created a mountain bike loop that took us up to the top, around the mountain and back down. It was 14.3 miles but had a heart stopping 3206′ of climbing. That’s a lot for such little mileage.
The ride started up Nail Trail which is a black diamond technical climb up jumbled rocks through burn. It’s steep. Then we turned right and climbed up Pajarito Canyon Trail to the flanks of the ski slope. This trail isn’t really meant to be climbed. It’s loose and rocky and really hard to maintain any momentum on. Struggling up a couple miles is an accomplishment because it levels out a bit then. All the while, the trail is extremely narrow and climbs mostly through aspens and bushes up into conifer with amazing glimpses of the town below.
At the top we pedaled slowly up steep trail to the top chairlift at 10,350′ for a tremendously rewarding feeling of accomplishment. We ate an energy bar, snapped some photos, and hit the mountain trails.
Aspen For Trouble drops down the side of the mountain and then traverses and switchbacks down the northside… through heavy aspen forest. There were a few aspen trees fallen and blocking the trail requiring some negotiating so when given the chance, we connected with Half Aspen Trail and kept heading downward to the base. At the bottom we climbed up Aspenola Trail back to the top of Pajarito Canyon Trail and bombed down that the way we came earlier. Pajarito is SO MUCH FUN in this direction.
Normally the lifts run at Pajarito in the summer but this year they didn’t open because of the pandemic. It’s a small mountain, I think I read there are 8 employees. Still, it would have been much easier to take the lift up and ride laps downhill for a day. The trails don’t have as much grooming as some bike parks, it’s more of a raw feeling. Perfect.