BMA Trail Ratings Guide

How hard is the Bitterbrush Trail? Can I drag a kid trailer behind my bike on Marshall Mesa? How good is the flow of Picture Rock Trail? What about the scenery? Look, there are many ways to label trails and there are a fleet of opinions about how hard trails are. But the Boulder Mountainbike Alliance system is the best and we think you'll dig it so much that you'll call up your local senator and demand a national system! It's simple, we have metrics for rating we call the TAC system:

Technical Difficulty (1-10):

Bumps, rocks, jumps, drops, sharp turns, sand, roots and angry trees grabbing at you on a trail make for harder riding. A "1" on our scale is something smooth, wide and easy. Grab the kiddies and watch them cruise down the path! A "10" constitutes a level of such astounding badassedness that only the burliest gnar gnar riders would even think about it. Yes, yes, yes people have different opinions and skill level plays a lot into that, but we've done our best here to paint with an even-handed brush. Some examples:

Wapiti Trail: 4
Picture Rock Trail: 6
Bitterbrush Trail: 8
Marshall Mesa Trail: 2

Aerobic Challenge (1-10):

Look, some trails, whether technical or not, have back-breakingly long climbs. Some may be really technical in spots but offer very easy climbs. Also, some are just long suckers that require stamina. Just like our Technical Difficulty rating, this metric is on a scale of 1-10. After you've ridden a couple of the trails we've rated, you should be able to figure out what number means "easy" for you and which means, "bring the hanky because I'm going to be crying by the end".  Examples:

School Bus Trail: 8
Bitterbrush Trail: 9 (going up)
Eagle Trail: 2
Nelson Loop: 4

Coolness Factor (1-10):

There is a lot more to riding than just pedaling and going over bumps. Some trails are just awesome! They have great "flow" (a sense of engagement felt by the rider where the rest of the world just doesn't seem to exist) or they have amazing scenery, or the trail has a destination that makes it all worthwhile. This is the Fonzie factor. If you are a rock climber, think of it as being kinda like the star rating. If a trail gets a "10", it's a County classic ride with amazing flow, great views, and probably a beer at the end of the trail. If it gets a "1" this trail feels awkward, has lousy views, involves extensive riding on or crossing of big roads and probably a rowdy gang of 1950's motorcycle dudes throwing beer cans at you. If a trail rates low, don't rule it out, though! They are often great connectors to other trails that can really rule! Examples:

Picture Rock Trail: 9 (great flow, tranquility, and Oskar Blues sitting at the bottom)
Foothills Trail: 5 (riding to work next to the foothills is awesome)
Hobbit Trails: 7
Community Ditch Trail: 2 (cross a highway, flat doubletrack that is exposed to all manner of weather)