Durango, Colorado – one of the top mountain biking destinations in the nation. With over 200 trails, 400 miles of trails, around 100,000 feet of combined descent and 5900 total vertical feet, it’s easy to see why. But how in the hell do you choose the best Durango MTB trails to ride?
And the more important question, where do you eat and drink afterwards to celebrate that ride? (You know, the one you didn’t go over your handlebars on!)
Every Brewery in Durango
While the list of breweries in Durango may not be very long, it sure does pack a punch. Every Durango Brewery has something special and unique to bring to the table.
- Anarchy Brewing Company
- Animas Brewing Company
- Carver Brewing Company
- High Trestle Brewing at Durango Beer and Ice Company
- Ska Brewing Company
- Steamworks Brewing Company
Our Very Own Durango Excursion
We spent almost two weeks exploring Durango, its trails and breweries, and we’ve got four of the best Durango MTB rides to take you on, paired up with four great breweries to eat and drink afterwards, including one in Bayfield (just 20 miles east of Durango) which has an additional 50 miles of MTB trails.
We consider ourselves intermediate riders with a bit of expert (HA!) tossed in to keep us on our toes. If you truly are an expert rider, dude, you can find plenty of expert trails right alongside the others. Although, I imagine you love the flowy downhill as much as we do.
Regardless of the trails you choose, we’ve always got breweries recommended for your post-ride drinking pleasure. So our four best Durango MTB trails are paired up with nearby breweries. Would you expect anything different from us?
We’ll recommend the trails, tell you the miles, and get you on the right track with our short video clips and written reviews.
We’ve done the research. You get to ride.
Feeling like a beginner? Need some MTB tips before hitting the trails?
Check out 5 Basic Mountain Biking Tips
MTB & Dinner at Steamworks Brewing
(Sale Barn & Grandview Ridge Trails)
For a not too difficult, yet still offers a challenge, 8 mile fun ride (blue trails mostly) check out the Sale Barn Trailhead where you can access Grandview Ridge and more. If you only want to stay on that side of the mountain, take Cowboy and find yourself heading back down the ridge the way you came up – fun downhill. If you are looking for a longer ride, catch the trails over to Horse Gulch and keep riding.
Then head just a few miles into Durango proper for some seriously good food, good beer, and good service at Steamworks Brewing Company. Ask for Lilly; her attitude will keep you as giddy as those trails did.
MTB & Brunch at El Moro Tavern
(Horse Gulch Trails)
Brunch and biking – Yeah baby! We’ve got a perfect Durango MTB pre-brunch ride all planned out for you at Horse Gulch and the Telegraph Trail System.
Start at the trailhead, where you ride up the forest service road (Horse Gulch Road) for a couple of miles to get you to the loopedy-loop trails of fun downhills, such as Stacey’s Loop, Mike’s, Meadow Loop and more. You can choose to ride these loops all morning or extend your riding. These trails connect over to Sale Barn Trailhead and Grandview Ridge for some more calorie burning trails.
If you played on these trails all morning (morning or evening rides are recommended as there’s not much for shade), then from the base of the trailhead, ride a couple of miles into town and hit El Moro Spirits and Tavern for some crafty cocktails, handcrafted drool-worthy brunch items, and a beer selection you won’t find anywhere (yep, not even in the breweries here). So, whether it’s Sunday brunch or just another day on the trails in Durango, hit up Telegraph Trail System at Horse Gulch.
MTB & Day Drinking at Ska Brewing
(Twin Buttes Trails)
Ok, full disclosure. At first, this definitely wasn’t one of our favorite trails. We first started out on a road – climbing – then hit the trails – climbing – and it seemed as though the climbing would never stop. But then we got into the trees, and the shade, and the beautiful evergreens surrounded us, and the downhill was finally found.
This five mile loop consists of blue trails and one green to end the day. With plenty of challenging uphills and fun, flowy downhill, this trail turned out to be one of the best Durango MTB trails for a quick ride before hitting the brewery. Twin Buttes is great as long as you don’t land on your twin butt (cheeks, that is)! Hee Hee!
Starting from the parking lot behind the “Giant” gas station, head up on East Twin Buttes to Twin Buttes to Lower Loop (West Twin Buttes). Finally head down on Lower Ed and Flow to Lightner Creek to the car.
Take said car to Ska Brewing Company just a few miles from the trailhead. With its beautiful lawn space, expansive patio and outdoor seating, and impressive taplist, Ska is summer. Sit back, relax, and let the beer take you far away from your screaming muscles. Oh, but it hurts so good!
MTB & Evening Drinks at Bottom Shelf Brewery
(Bayfield & Saul’s Creek Trails)
Bayfield is a mere 20 miles east of Durango, and if you like checking out ALL the trails and ALL the breweries, then you must go.
Mountain biking in Bayfield also offers some great dispersed camping. The trails start anywhere you find them in the Saul’s Creek camping area, just a few miles outside of Bayfield proper. If you’ve got a few hours (we did it in three – we like our breaks, plus we need to breathe) it is very possible to ride all of the trails here starting from Horizon Loop, resulting in a helluva workout with a helluva view, and a lot more up than you think.
However, the downs – well, they are always worth the up…maybe! At 1639 ft of elevation gain and riding for 12.78 miles we earned our beer on this MTB trail.
And Bayfield has a quaint brewery right in town to celebrate and add some calories back into what you burnt. Bottom Shelf Brewery will re-hydrate you, re-fuel you, and remind you that good people still exist in this crazy-ass world.
MTB & Breweries are Better with Free Camping
Now that you know exactly where to find the best Durango MTB trails and where to drink afterwards, I’m not sure why you’re still here reading.
What else do you need? Maybe some free camping recommendations? We stayed just east of Durango on BLM land at Durfield dispersed camping area. Actually, we were in between Bayfield and Durango – perfect for hitting up all the trails and all the breweries.
And as mentioned earlier, there’s also free camping on the BLM land at Saul’s Creek closer to Bayfield. The cell service is better at Durfield dispersed. The shade is better at Saul’s Creek. Big rigs have easier access at Durfield. The trails are right outside your door at Saul’s Creek.
Finding a campground is like being on an episode of House Hunter’s. You’ll never find that perfect spot, but you will find one that’s perfect for you.
Now go ride!
MTB and Camping Resources Used
- Trailforks – app and site used for finding MTB trails
- Campendium – app and site used for finding camping spots (free, RV parks, state parks, etc.)
- Harvest Hosts Brewery Camping, Beer & Biking Guides – your guide to MTB and free camping at breweries and more
- Bikin’ Bits: Short Bits on Where to MTB – Craft Beer Travel and Adventure Podcast bonus episodes on biking
- YouTube – MTB Trails & Brewery Video Clips – We show you the trails so you know what to expect.
- Pedal the Peaks – Bikes break, and these guys fix – efficiently and wonderfully!
More biking in Silverton and the San Juans in Colorado
Head on over the Million Dollar Highway for more biking, beers, and vistas!
Not finished riding and drinking beer?
Find out more about another great place to go mountain biking and take a load off with a pint in Sedona, Arizona!
Not Ready to Leave Colorado?
Follow us through more of southwest Colorado. We go through great places to eat, drink, mountain bike, and ski!