Rio Grande Trail: Aspen to Glenwood, and Back

Rio Grande Trail: Aspen to Glenwood, and Back

Rio Grande Trail: Aspen to Glenwood, and Back

Taking what was going to be my one hour lunch loop, I got on my road bike and headed down towards the Catherine Store Road to ride up into Missouri Heights. I had a lot of work to do but was determined to fit in some exercise.

Being directionally challenged, I took a wrong turn onto Cattle Creek Road and my one hour ride turned into four. It’s a good thing, and to no surprise to anyone, that I have made a livelihood out of writing life travel stories. After all, being lost is a state of being for me. I am often made fun of that I carry a full pack of food and clothes wherever I go, as I am certain that  I would be the first one to get thrown off the boat, or eaten because I couldn’t figure out how to catch dinner or make a fire if ever in a survival situation.

Upon reflection, I should have heeded the warning signs that yesterday would be a day destined towards lostness. It began with my missing an appointment that I was 30 minutes late for. Believe you me, I have had many a friend reprimand me for hours about my lateness, telling me that late people are just selfish people. My theory is that late people are the kind of people who live completely in the moment and have no sense of time, a difficult trait to live by when one needs to grow up and run a family, and a business. We are who we are and I blame it all on my mother. When we were growing up we learned to tell her to go left when she really needed to go right.

Parking my car at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel I biked down towards Carbondale, crossed the highway and headed up the hill to Missouri Heights. Lost in the moment as I passed fields with grazing sheep, horses and deer, I somehow ended up in Glenwood Springs.

Reaching into my survival pack, I was happy to find a shot of GU, the kind with a full cup of caffeine in it. Adjusting my head phones I gave in to the moment, gathering content as I rode back to El Jebel with Bald Eagles and Blue Heron flying over my head.

It was a fantastically wonderful, unexpected day and even though I am making up for it today with a double workload, I find that I am able to handle it all with much more clarity since the calmness of nature, with birds soaring and rivers flowing, untied the tight knots of clutter that were clogging my brain. I highly recommend that you too allow yourself to get lost so that you realize that it’s okay to walk away from the grind. The work will always be there, but the adventures might not be.

What and Where is the Rio Grande Trail?

The Rio Grande Trail is a 42.5 mile continuous multi-use trail completely protected from vehicular traffic except at intersections. It begins at one of our favorite parks for children in Aspen, Herron Park on Neale Ave. in Aspen., and travels all the way down to Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs.

There are many ways to get on the trail, but if one begins at Herron Park one will find people with their dogs, children, Striders and strollers heading towards Rio Grande Park, the John Denver Sanctuary – Rock & Perennial Gardens and the Theatre Aspen tent. The dog walkers will soon enough venture off and follow their own secret routes that travel to all the watering holes.

Past Cemetery Lane the path becomes more quiet and turns to gravel, and is where the wildlife becomes more abundant as the animals venture to the river to drink. Bears and Mountain Lions with their cubs have been spotted around there, as well as where the path travels past the serene and beautiful Rock Bottom Ranch and all their farm animals.

In Carbondale the path travels near the old train tracks and one will find paths to businesses located off the path, like True Nature Healing Arts whose path leads to their Peace Garden and deliciously organic Sangha Kitchen. Yesterday I rode through it all.

You have (at least) three trail options. You can start in Glenwood Springs and journey uphill to Aspen, then take the RFTA (Roaring Fork Transit Authority) bus back; you can bus to Aspen and ride downhill back. Or you can ride out and back. (Are you crazy?) Of course there are also options to just ride a portion of the trail with various RFTA bus stops along the way in towns such as El Jebel and Carbondale. If you choose to take one of the RFTA bus, not only will that save your weary legs, but it will give you a chance to mingle with some of the locals. No matter which way you choose to go, you will enjoy this world-class, high altitude trail. This trail, is great for family bonding trips by foot, horseback, bike, inline skate, Trikke, recumbent, tandem, or nordic skis. The trail is also wheelchair accessible and great for walking with your best friend, whether that friend is the two-legged or four-legged variety (leash only).
The Rio Grande has 42 miles of The Rio Grande Trail is a rails to trails project which is built in the Aspen Branch of the historic Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. Train operations in the corridor ceased in phases, between the 1960s and the mid 1990s. In 1997 the right of way corridor was purchased with a combination of funding by local governments, Great Outdoors Colorado, Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, and the Colorado Department of Transportation. This presented an opportunity to explore both transportation and recreation solutions to Highway 82 congestion and trail connectivity challenges in the Roaring Fork Valley. In 2001, RFTA was formed and thus a dedicated funding source for transit and trails was created. RFTA now manages and maintains the trail corridor, in conjunction with Pitkin County Open Space and the City of Aspen, in their respective jurisdictions.


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