Article by Cameron Burns
CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve chosen the perfect place from which to launch your next outdoor adventure. Basalt is in the sweet spot of the Roaring Fork Valley, halfway between Glenwood Springs and Aspen at the gateway to the Fryingpan Valley. So whether you’re looking to hammer some challenging mountain bike trails, glide your skis through a picturesque winter landscape, or simply throw your blanket on the grass by a rushing river, fun and adventure is just a short drive, ride or walk away. If it’s a park you’re looking for, you have several form which to choose.
Arbaney Park is a beautiful, centrally located town park with playgrounds for kids of all ages, picnic tables, barbecue pits, and a large open area to run the dogs. Basalt River Park is a park on the banks of the Roaring Fork River near historic Downtown Basalt that’s perfect for a picnic or just chillin’ by the water. A short drive downvalley brings you to Crown Mountain Park, a huge 124 acre mountain park with athletic fields, sand volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, a playground, a one mile concrete walking/biking loop, a fenced dog park and BMX pump track. Want to take a hike in a beautiful place? There are several options near Basalt. The Arbaney Kittle trail is one of the most popular trails with the locals. It is a moderate to steep climb that at its apex provides spectacular views of the Fryingpan Valley, the Roaring Fork Valley and the high peaks beyond. Another challenging hike close to town is the Basalt High School Trail, which starts right behind the high school and takes you up a steep trail to a ridge near the top of Light Hill from where you’ll get wide views of Basalt and the entire midvalley.
The Ruedi Overlook Trail starts 12 miles up scenic Fryingpan Road adjacent to the Ruedi Reservoir boat dock. The first two miles of the trail are steep, but the payoff is worth the effort as the trail takes you to the top of Red Table Mountain with 360 degree views of the Fryingpan Valley and Hunter/Fryingpan Wilderness. For a more moderate hike, the Crown Mountain River Trail starts at the back of Crown Mountain Park and winds down to a network of trails along the banks of the Roaring Fork River. It is a very popular area for both dog walkers and river lovers. With popular road routes and paved bike trails heading in every direction, Basalt is the ideal starting point for enjoying road biking.
The Rio Grande Trail is a 42-mile long paved trail that follows the old Rio Grande rail line route all the way from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, and some of the most popular and scenic sections of the trail are located close to Basalt. From the recently improved parking area near Basalt High School you can either head upvalley through picturesque Snowmass Canyon to historic Woody Creek, or downvalley where the trail whizzes by the Emma Schoolhouse and skirts the Roaring Fork River before passing through the heart of Carbondale. The 32-mile-long Fryingpan Road is a popular road ride up the scenic Fryingpan Valley to Ruedi Reservoir and beyond that includes some challenging climbs. The lower part of the road can see high volumes of clear the reservoir, it’s smooth sailing.
The Basalt/Old Snowmass Trail is an easy ride that starts at Fisherman’s Park in Basalt and runs upvalley for about two miles where it connects with the Rio Grande Trail. You are in luck if mountain biking is more your style. Some of the best mountain biking trails in the Roaring Fork Valley are just a short drive or ride away. The Crown Trails are a popular mecca of singletrack mountain biking trails located on top of Crown Mountain, south of Basalt. They can be accessed directly from either the Glassier Trail or the Buckhorn Trail via the Rio Grande Trail, and also from Prince Creek Road. Basalt Mountain Road and Upper Cattle Creek Road are popular intermediate-level dirt roads that mountain bikers use to access the Basalt Mountain trail system. Of course, Basalt has your winter outdoor adventures covered, too, with some of the best cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking anywhere. The Rio Grande Trail is groomed in winter for both classic and skate skiing through Snowmass Canyon and all the way to Aspen, if you’re up for it. Crown Mountain Park has two dedicated loops, one for skiing and snowshoeing, and one for fat biking. The Roaring Fork Club has groomed winter trails for skiing and snowshoeing on its golf course that are easily accessed from Basalt High School and the Rio Grande Trail. So as you can see, whatever your outdoor passion or skill level, you’ll find a place to engage it in Basalt.