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Looking for a bike route that provides plenty of mountain scenery, a great workout, but requires less time and is easier on your body compared to the more intense mountain passes? Try a locals’ favorite, the 21-mile Buena Vista-Nathrop loop.
Starting in Buena Vista, bike south on Highway 24 out of town. Continue south through the traffic light in Johnson Village (which becomes Highway 285) to Nathrop. So far, it’s been an easy and gentle descent for eight miles.
At Nathrop, turn right (west) on CR 162 where the climbing begins. You’ll be facing the towering Sawatch Range directly ahead, with Mt. Antero to the left and Mt. Princeton to the right. Continue for five miles toward the base of the mountains and into the trees. At the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, turn right (north) on Chaffee County Road 321. From here, the climb is very steep and has breathtaking views of the valley. Hang in there, because the tough climb ends within a mile. At a major switchback, the worst of the climbing is over and you’re on a knoll with grand views of the entire Arkansas River Valley.
Continue on CR 321 and reward yourself with a gentle descent back to Buena Vista for another eight miles. You’ll pass the historic Maxwell Park one-room Schoolhouse and return to town on West Main Street.