First mountain bike adventure at Mud Lake

Nyla embraces her little brother, Silas, at the head of the mountain bike trail at Mud Lake. Then, in a flash, the children zoom off into the forest leaving Silas and I in a cloud of dust. Through the woods we followed, off an on getting glimpses of the pack of older children and parents before they pulled away from us for good. By the time we made it half way around the easy loop trail, we could see across the lake that the older children had arrived back at the start.

Mountain bike riding with children of mixed ages and skills is always difficult. While there was this common frustration, Mud Lake is an ideal place to take large groups. There are a number of loop trails that go around the lake, each that is a different difficulty (number/type of obstacles, climb, distance, etc.), and they all meet back up at the East side of the lake. Parents with very small children who were not riding were able to stay and play with their children at the lake, while the rest of us broke up into groups based on interest and skill and went on different trails, always looping back to the lake.

Having a common meeting place made for a very enjoyable rhythm. The bikers would go off to ride a loop, then return and take a break for snack or play in the forest or by the lake. While the loops only took 10 to 20 minutes to complete, we enjoyed a couple slow-moving hours before the children tired and wanted to return home.

This adventure went super well. We only ran into two small issues: children feeling frustrated when they couldn’t keep up with older / better riders and younger children whacking others in the head with long sticks!


Mud Lake sits at around 9,000 feet and is just a few minutes outside of Nederland, Colorado, accessed via the Peak to Peak Highway. The high-elevation lake and picnic area are beautiful, nestled in the woods against the backdrop of the Caribou Ranch Open Space.

  • More about the area: Boulder County and Boulder Mountainbike Alliance
  • Location: Mud Lake, Nederland, CO
  • Directions: Google Map to parking lot
  • Map: Trail Map of Mud Lake
  • Date: September 18, 2016 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM
  • Distance: Loops range up to 1.1 miles
  • Difficulty: The trails are wide and easy. The most-difficult and longest loop has an elevation gain of 131 feet. This was a good challenge for the more aggressive 8-year olds. The easiest loop is probably around 0.5 miles with very minimal elevation gain that worked well for Silas at almost 4-years old.


  • Bikes
  • Clothing layers
  • Helmet
  • Sunscreen
  • Additional protective gear (knee pads, gloves) – optional
  • Snacks!! And WATER!
  • Backcountry bathroom supplies


  • If your crew has children of mixed ages and skills, split into groups.
  • Take breaks for snacking, playing in the woods and near the lake to make for a memorable experience.
  • There are bathroom facilities at the parking lot although we always carry teepee, which came in handy this time!
  • Arrive early to ensure you get parking. When we left around noon the parking lot was full.


Riding on wide easy trails in the woods.

Lunch near the lake.

Discovering the faster children have already arrived back at the start of the trail, across the lake.

Playing in the woods.

Playing in the woods.

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