WBP Review: Keystone
21 Jul 2015
Keystone Bike Park: Passion and Artistry
Want to know what it looks like to be the best bike park in the Western United States? Look no further than Keystone Bike Park in Colorado. It’s not to often that we want to stop bike park touring and pick up a real-estate guide. There are key factors that make a bike park great and Keystone has them all, right down to having a great grocery store, just down the road in Dillon. It was very hard to find anything wrong with Keystone’s Bike Park. Honestly, once we started riding we almost forgot why we were there. The trail crew is family. They are the reason why the bike park is so amazing, and we felt right at home there.
(Big Mountain Enduro: Keystone's local who happens to work ski patrol and trail crew, won 1st place in the PRO category! Alyson Cockrell you rock!)
This was our third time visiting Keystone Bike Park, but something magical has happened since our last visit in 2013. Maybe the recent rain or the Big Mountain Enduro had something to do with it, but Keystone’s trails were dialed and in great condition. People ask us all the time, “what is the best bike park?” or “what bike park should we not miss?” In the past we had teetered on which bike park is the best out West. We coveted a list of about four, and Keystone has always been on that list. But, now we can answer that question without a doubt hands down “DO NOT PASS UP KEYSTONE!” and we’ll say it like we’re little kids jacked up on chocolate. “KEYSTONE!” The saying “this bike park has something for everyone” is an understatement. In fact, it sounds dumb. This bike park is better than Disney World on acid, is more like it.
(Paid-In-Full's newest wall-ride addition. We heard that Jared Graves - PRO Mens winner of the Big Mountain Enduro - jumped over this entire feature during his race run!)
The one chair-lift that will drop you off at the top of 11,640ft. will leave you breathless, both literally and as a consequence of the killer views. Unless you are a local with an unusually high red blood cell count, expect to search for your breath, while you easily roll over to the start of your trail. From off the top of the mountain you only have a few trail options to get started on: one green, a black, or a double- black. So, if there is one complaint, currently there is not a blue trail from off the top of the mountain. However, starting on Aug 1st that is all going to change, as that is when they have been granted permission from the US Forest Service to break ground on a new blue trail. Finally, something to warm-up on! The one green-trail from the top grants you access to a couple blue trails further down the mountain. One is more flowy and one is more technical with rocks and roots. Both of these blue trails are a great step up from the green by offering opportunities to double-up rollers and air it out over roots and rock-gardens. The tech-gnar blue at Keystone is a gateway to the black trails. So, those trails are a full step-up from green. If you feel 100% confident on the green roots and rocks, then you are ready for one of the premier intermediate trails called Eye Of The Tiger & Mosquito Coast. Be sure to have plenty of water and snacks because Keystone has well over 2,000ft. of vertical descent! We noticed not just rocks and roots but also rollers to pump and small rock booters on the side of the trail. An advanced rider could ride these trails and have a great time on the features as well.
(A great gap to boost on Motor Head.)
Now, let’s move on to the black and double-black trails. First off, let’s just touch on the fact that Keystone Bike Park is located on a very large mountain. That real-estate offers a ton of variety and mixture of terrain. The possibilities for the bike park are endless. Keystone is not a one trick pony! On the double black diamond trails, Helter & Skelter, also known as Helter-Skelter, one can max-out their suspension riding down some serious rocks with advanced turning maneuvers, but then also find smooth gap-jumps, all on the same trail! Jam Rock is a standout expert trail and a marvel of trail building with a perfect mixture of flow, jumps, gnar and epic scenery. Many bike parks tend to lean towards flow or gnar for any particular trail. Because Keystone is so large, they can have a huge amount of variety on one trail. This feeds the soul and the ADHD personality type. PERFECT for us here a WorldBikeParks!!
(Dave Cardwell inspects the new feature on Cowboy Up... from above.)
Some people might say that skinnies are “old school”, but we think skinnies are just another level that every bike park should have. Keystone is not afraid to raise it up and make it narrow. You can find multiple options and routes with hand-crafted woodwork elevated in the trees, which you don’t often see at a lot of bike park across the U.S. these days. Skinnies are not for everyone, but if balancing and focus are what you crave, Keystone has you covered! Building elevated woodwork that stands up to the test of time is an art and a mind teaser to ride. To wrap your mind around the steepness and turns that go along with being sometimes 14ft in the air is a serious challenge for those not born riding the fabled NorthShore. Once you’ve mastered it, then it’s time to lap Evenflow and Sanatarium!
(CJ Seling and Natty G. getting a taste of the gnar on High Speed Dirt.)
As we mentioned earlier, Keystone has been granted new trails. It’s been eight years since they have been able to build anything new. But starting Aug 1st, they will begin building the first of seven new trails! It’s a very exciting time for the bike park. When we were there, they had begun construction on upper TNT. The plan is to put in a new legit jump-line on this section. This will add a much-needed advanced, jump-trail to the bike park repertoire. Paid-In-Full and Money are considered their jump trails currently, but we found them to be a bit difficult to learn-on and offered a somewhat inconsistent feel. But, with that said, by the end of our trip, we were learning the jumps and hitting them better than ever. We are looking forward to riding the new jumps on TNT!
(Trey Clay showing the Drop Zone what he's got.)
There is a new skills area with five progressive jump-lines located at the base. The skills area is open all the time, and it is free for anyone to trick. We found there was a big step-up between the small and the medium line. We consistently over-shot the small-line, but then, the medium-line was knuckled on both ends, which took significantly more commitment and inherent risk on the part of the rider. We would like to have seen the medium line have a knuckle on the face of the jump, but have a forgiving landing to help people get a feel for airtime with a little less consequence. Then, go ahead and knuckle it up on the big lines! Also in the skills area, there were a few small drops/rollers, a little rock garden, and a spattering of tiny wooden features. There were kids and adults in there every time we came through to catch the lift! It’s a great addition to the park!
(Our new friend Bryan Everhart of NATrials.com showing us a different line.)
Keystone has become our favorite bike park out west in the US. We can’t wait to come back and haven’t stopped talking about since we left! We predict that once the new blue-trail goes in up top, and the new jump line on upper-TNT are in and ready to go, Keystone will see an influx of riders to the park. We are still in Colorado, and we may have a chance to go back there and ride the new trails…so, a part II may be in the making!
(We call this wall-ride on TNT "Janky", but we have heard that it may be getting a face lift soon!)