My first fall in Colorado, someone asked me if I was going leaf peeping one weekend. I had literally no idea what they were talking about, but after staring at them for a while, they began to explain.
Leaf peeping is an informal term for when you travel to view and photograph fall foliage. Mostly known in northern New England, the term has migrated to Colorado and often Coloradans, and tourists alike, flock to the mountains to watch the Aspens turn.
And yes, you can tell it’s an Aspen because of the way it is.
In a quest to peep some leaves in the weird world of 2020, we grabbed our bikes and headed west. I had recently seen a friend on Instagram bike from Breckenridge to Vail, peeping leaves all along the way while the mountains loomed all around them. I immediately sought to recreate that ride.
Not fully ready to clock an 80 mile day, my partner and I settled on 40 miles, riding from Copper Mountain to Vail and back again on the Ten Mile Canyon National Recreational Trail.
After parking at Copper Mountain Resort (free during the off-season), we jumped on the trail and immediately witnessed amazing views. The trail is paved the entire way to Vail, which makes it perfect for any sort of bike you’re sporting.
The trail parallels I-70 for most of the way to Vail, but loops into the trees from Copper to the rest stop at the top of Vail Pass. After the rest area, continue back on the trail as you pass a gorgeous lake with picturesque mountain views straight ahead. About five miles from Copper, you began to descend Vail Pass, with max speeds reaching way past 33 mph.
Shortly after you begin descending, you loop back into the trees where Aspens greet you on both sides of the trail. This is a great photo opportunity, but you may want to get off your bike, as you’ll be descending pretty fast for the next 10 or so miles.
I’m pretty sure we coasted all the way to Vail, minus a short uphill as we weaved our way through neighborhoods to make it downtown.
Once in Vail, I’d recommend grabbing a brew at Vail Brewing Company (the Pumpkin Ale is delicious) while satisfying your hunger with pizza from Pazzo’s. They do take-out which you can eat while enjoying your brews on the patio.
Post pizza and beer, get back on the bike and ready yourself for some incline. Once leaving Vail, you go up, and up for the next 16 miles. It’s a gradual uphill, but it’s definitely a workout.
After passing the rest area after inching your way up Vail Pass, you’ll begin a slow descent back to Copper, giving your legs a much needed rest.
Plaster a smile on your face and pat yourself on the back, because you just conquered a mountain pass.
Heading leaf peeping? Make sure to tag @argentostudios in all your adventures on two-wheels and off.