By Red Hunt

Aspen has a great biking community, with their popular summer Tuesday Cruiseday events always drawing a crowd (sometimes more than 150 cyclists). These community cycling events start at Aspen Brewing Company on Tuesday evenings and ride around town, stopping at a handful of scenic places along the way. Anyone is welcome, and tourists can rent bikes to join in the cycle fun.

If you’re a cyclist and looking for tips on trails and places to ride around Aspen, then there is no better way to get in-tune with the local ride vibe than by joining in on the Tuesday Cruiseday fun.

Inevitably, on one of the rides someone will suggest that you bike from Aspen to Woody Creek and the funky Woody Creek Tavern.

Park in Aspen Colorado
Credit: Red Hunt

Park in Aspen, Colorado

The trail to Woody Creek Tavern is pretty simple, once you know the general direction of travel. Find the Woody Creek Trail / Rio Grande Trail signs and you’re on your way. The Rio Grande trail starts with some nice scenic views of the Roaring Forks River and shady, forest areas. It is a smooth double track, pretty wide open and suitable for serious cyclists or leisure riders.

You’ll pass by some wetlands and waterways with birds and wildlife mulling about, as well as some upscale housing areas. Continuing on outside of Aspen, you’ll pass through parks and be riding along some old railway lines out towards Woody Creek. The best part of this bike ride, is that it is an adventure with a bit of a prize at the end - stopping for a meal at the eclectic Woody Creek Tavern, once a favorite hangout for Hunter S. Thompson.

Rio Grande Bike Trail to Woody Creek
Credit: Red Hunt

Biking to Woody Creek Tavern on the Rio Grande trail

The outside of the tavern is rustic wood and a mix of oddball signs, tables and plastic chairs. The inside of the tavern is even more of a messy mix, with walls covered in Hunter S. Thompson memorabilia and other decorations. It’s actually a bit overwhelming how kitschy it is, but that is part of the attraction of this little tavern.

Woody Creek Tavern inside
Credit: Red Hunt

Inside the Woody Creek Tavern

Depending where you start in Aspen, it is a ride of about seven miles in length (one way) or one and a half hours, with some moderate hills and nice places to stop for photos. The Woody Creek Tavern itself is on the outskirts of Woody Creek, before you reach town so plan for a little more time if you’re heading all the way into Woody Creek instead of ending your ride at the tavern. The tavern prides themselves on fresh lime margaritas and simple, filling Mexican meals and burgers. The energy you gain from a lunch stop here can be put to use for the return bike ride to Aspen, which will be a slow, steady, slight incline. Just be sure to keep your margarita intake to a minimum if you’re biking back!

For anyone visiting Aspen on vacation and needing to rent a bike for the ride, there are a many options, with Aspen Velo perhaps being the most convenient, as they are located near the Rio Grande Trail and offer a wide variety of rental bike options. 

Woody Creek Tavern outside
Credit: Red Hunt

Outside the Woody Creek Tavern