The onset of fall near Laramie, Wyoming brings about crisper temperatures, rustier pallets, and an almost desperate desire to get outside and soak up every last ounce of warmth and warm-weather recreation before winter sets in.
Mountain biking is an exceptional outdoor activity during the fall for several reasons. Autumn brings drier conditions, meaning you’re less likely to encounter muddy trails. And, in a sport that gets your heart pumping as much as mountain biking does, the cooler temperatures are a welcome change from the heat of summer. Finally, while mountain biking areas near Laramie never disappoint in terms of scenery, the views are especially beautiful during the fall, where the oranges, yellows, and reds of the aspens and willows contrast beautifully with the evergreens and peaks of the surrounding mountain ecosystems.
Read on for our recommendations for the best mountain biking trails to ride during the fall.
Middle Aspen Trail to Aspen Trail at Happy Jack
The Middle Aspen and Aspen Trails are located in the Tie City / Happy Jack trail systems, about 12 miles east of Laramie. With ‘aspen’ in the name, it’s no surprise that this is a top selection for autumn riding. Both trails have benefited from a recent rebuild that has created a fun and exciting trajectory that passes through old growth aspens. The route is rated moderate and is notable for its fast, flowy singletrack that promises just a little bit of tech and some fun corners.
Our suggested route is to park at the Happy Jack parking area, located at the bottom of the recreation area. Take Middle Aspen uphill and then follow the Aspen Trail on the way down. This route allows for lots of beautiful aspens and a more mellow uphill when compared to the alternative option, which is to climb up Pole Creek Trail.
Crow Creek at Happy Jack
The Crow Creek loop is another excellent option for mountain biking in the fall. Crow Creek is filled with aspens, including some very old and large groves. Crow Creek is also found within the Happy Jack Recreation Area, but we suggest accessing it from the Summit Trailhead, which lies further to the east and north than the Happy Jack / Tie City parking area.
The Summit Trailhead is just off I-80. From the parking lot, take the east (downhill) trail until you reach the Crow Creek Loop Trail, on the right. Ride the loop counter-clockwise until you return to the trailhead spur. If you want to add a little bit of distance, use the Crow Creek Connector Trail to tie in with the Summit or Headquarters trail on the loop's most northeastern point.
The lower sections of Crow Creek tend to be soggy during much of the year, but the drier weather of autumn solves this problem.
Headquarters Trail at Happy Jack
Another Happy Jack favorite, the headquarters loop is 6 miles long and is also accessed via the Summit Trailhead. Headquarters provides sweeping panoramic views of some of Wyoming’s best wide-open space, which is particularly beautiful in the fall as the aspens start changing.
From the Summit Trailhead, take the trail to your left that goes uphill. Just as you start levelling out, you’ll come to a fork at the edge of an aspen grove. Stay right. The trail connects to Van’s Loop, and then to Brown’s Loop. Keep riding in a counter-clockwise direction. You’ll notice that, at your furthest point, you’re right next to Headquarters Road, and this proximity makes Headquarters Trail a great candidate for a shuttle ride with friends. You can easily do multiple laps if you shuttle a vehicle to the bottom.
Albert’s Alley in Curt Gowdy State Park
Albert’s Alley is home to Curt Gowdy State Park, a well-known and well-loved location among mountain bikers from all over the county. Curt Gowdy is a quick 30-minute drive from Laramie and boasts 35 miles of trails for all skill levels and notable “play areas” featuring massive granite boulders.
Albert’s Alley is a great ride for checking out fall colors in Gowdy. Park at the Aspen Grove Trailhead and hop on the Stone Temple Circuit until you hit Albert’s Alley. Once you’re on the trail, you can follow it until you intersect with Crow Creek and then head back to the trailhead or, if you want a more challenging ride, you can connect to El Alto. The views from the top of El Alto are well worth it.
Barber Lake Trail in the Snowy Range
No list of the best fall mountain biking trails near Laramie would be complete without a mention of the Snowy Range Mountains, located about 35 miles west of Laramie. The Snowies are incredibly scenic, and the fall brings about a special contrast between the colorful leaves and the looming granite peaks. The Barber Lake Trail lies within the Snowy Range and departs from the Green Rock Trailhead. With a shuttle to the top (park at the Forest Service Welcome Center) this trail is pure downhill joy, though intrepid riders might choose to brave the ascent for a rewarding workout.