Get Out! Not middle of the road
Now is a great time to ride mid-elevation trails
We’re lucky folks to live in a state where mountain biking is possible almost all year. Except for January and February (and sometimes even then if you have a fat bike) it’s possible to find excellent biking at least somewhere in Colorado.
June provides an especially interesting time for biking. It’s warming up here in the valley, which means biking earlier in the day or heading to higher ground. However, the popular high-elevation rides like Crested Butte’s 401 and Salida’s Monarch Crest trail are still drying out. This means it’s the perfect time to check out the many mid-elevation trail systems in the western half of the state. If you’d rather sleep in and bike at noon than get up and get going at 9 a.m., try heading to one of these places.
Eagle: All of the trails in the Eagle area are open and in great shape, according to the Mountain Bike Eagle Facebook page. A great ride is to park out at the Pool and Ice Rink, then use the bike path and streets to make your way back over to 2nd street and east to the Bluffs Trail Head. A map at http://mountainbikeeagle.com/ can help tremendously, as can stopping by the Mountain Pedaler bike shop on 2nd Street.
From the trail head, you’ll climb the Boneyard Trail and eventually meet up with the Pool and Ice trail. This trail was professionally rebuilt a few years ago and is a fun downhill ride with lots of berms and speed! You’ll end right at the Pool and Ice Rink where you parked. The town of Eagle is home to Bonefire Brewing and they allow you to bring your own food to their tap room at the corner of Highway 6 and 2nd Street. Grab some take-out from the Red Canyon Cafe and head over for a taste of some great microbrews!
Gunnison: Now is prime time to head to Gunnison and ride the trails at Hartman Rocks. It’ll be hot there soon, which is when we’ll all be riding in Crested Butte, but for now, Gunnison is a great weekend option. The Hartman Rocks trails are located off of Hwy 50 on Gold Basin Road near Gunnison. There’s a large sign as you head into town pointing towards the Hartman Rocks Recreation Area.
Hartman Rocks has a plethora of trail options, but from the main parking lot take the obvious entrance near the bathrooms and make your way up a series of switchbacks called Lower Jack’s. According to mtbproject.com, the trails are signed well now, so finding your way around shouldn’t be too difficult. You can find a map and trail descriptions at http://www.mtbproject.com/directory/8011625/hartman-rocks. Trails I’ve ridden in the past there that are my favorites include Lower Jack’s, The Luge, Rocky Ridge, Josie’s and Bambi’s.
Once you’re done riding you must head into town and find Anejo’s, a tiny but fabulous Mexican restaurant at 107 South Main St. If Mexican isn’t what you want, there are plenty of sandwich shops in town, too.
Ridgway: If you haven’t been down to camp at Ridgway State Park and ride the new RAT trails, what are you waiting for? These fast and flowing trails are fun for everyone. Features are well-built, the climbing doesn’t kill you, and there are fast downhill trails like Squeaker that you’ll want to ride over and over again.
The trails are located off Highway 550 just before the town of Ridgway on the Owl Creek Pass (CR 10) road. Parking is limited to the sides of the roads and the trails start on your left just after you turn onto the gravel road. You’ll probably see cars there and a sign. These trails are still a work in progress but a map and information is available at http://ridgwaytrails.com/trails/.
Our favorites here include Rattus Maximus, Speedy Gonzales, Squeaker and Rat Trap. Once you’ve had enough riding, check out Colorado Boy Pizza at 602 Clinton St. or Tacos del Gnar at 630 Sherman St.
Other areas to keep in mind: There are many multi-use trails on the Uncompahgre Plateau, and the folks in the Delta COPMOBA chapter can tell you all about them. You can find out more by searching for the DAMBikers on Facebook. They’ll be happy to answer questions you have about those trails.
Lower-elevation trails are also opening up in Steamboat and the trails down in Durango should be in excellent shape right now. The Beall-Ridge-Rotary loop in Steamboat is my favorite ride there and the Salebarn section of the Telegraph trails in Durango is pretty sweet too. You can find more information on both at mtbproject.com.
Finally, let’s not forget about what local attraction will be opening Friday: the Powderhorn Bike Park! You can see a video preview of these trails on Powderhorn’s Facebook page and photos on the Singletrack Trails Facebook page. These should be a nice addition to our Grand Mesa bike options for the summer!
Don’t forget you can always find trail maps and information in our 2016 RIDE Guide at GJSentinel.com/magazines.