- 6 - 22 miles
- Aerobic Difficulty:
- Moderate, Advanced
- Time To Allow:
- 2+ hours
- Trailhead Elevation:
- 8100 feet
The Benchmark Area Trails offer riders in the Vail area a good workout with several variations for descent. Of note, Benchmark Mountain was once a training ground for the infamous 10th Mountain Division.
All options in the Benchmark area start first with a climb up to the top of Vail Resort on the double-track of Mill Creek Road. At mile three, riders looking to bail early can hop on the Commando Trail at Chair 10, located on the right. From here to the top of Benchmark is another seven miles up the Mill Creek-Upper Commando Trail.
Once at the top of Benchmark, riders can choose to take the roadway back down, the Two Elk Trail down or the Minturn Trail down. Two Elk Trail features excellent singletrack and heads eastward down the mountain face for 2.5 miles and ends up back in Vail. The Minturn Trail option also features excellent singletrack and heads westward down the mountain for 12 miles into the town of Minturn. Riders heading to Minturn should be prepared for a 30-mile road shuttle back to Vail. A map is a key piece of equipment when riding from the top of Benchmark.
Views from Benchmark Mountain and trails are quite good of the surrounding peaks and the valley below. The ride traverses through pine forest and aspen glades until reaching above tree line towards its highest elevations.
Several trail variations increase and decrease length
Time To Allow:
Time varies due to route taken
High elevation riding
While riding any trail system it is a great idea to include a repair kit and first aid kit. The Benchmark Area Trails are multi-use and hikers, horseback riders, vehicles and other trail users may be seen along the way. Please be considerate on the trails and understand right of way protocol. The Benchmark Area Trails are located in high elevation mountains and can experience sudden weather shifts, so riders should bring appropriate warm layers in anticipation of this.
From Vail head to Vail Ski Resort. Mill Creek Road begins at the Vista/Rasta Bahn Quad Lift and heads up from there.