Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hewlett Gulch (MTB)

Hewlett gulch is a great singletrack ride in the Poudre Canyon. It is an out-and-back from the parking lot with a loop at the top. It is mostly pefect singletrack with some stream crossings and a few rocky technical sections. Just after the summit there is a steep and rocky downhill section to connect back up to the start of the loop.

  GPS Track

Trail Stats
Total Distance = 8.0 mi
Total Elevation Gain = 1650 ft
Ride Time = 2 hr
Trail Type = singletrack
Start coordinates =  40°41'21.42"N, 105°18'37.29"W

From Fort Collins, drive on US287 north until the west CO14/Poudre Canyon exit (left turn). Take CO14 west 10.5 mi until the pull-off (to the right) going to the Hewlett gulch trailhead just past the town of Poudre Park. Drive over the bridge shown below and go to the parking lot.

Bridge across the Poudre River

Trail Walkthrough 
From the parking lot ride up the trail making a few stream crossings and going over a few rocky technical sections. You'll see the foundations of some old homesteads on the way up. The topo shows two mines as well (although I didn't see them). On the way up you can see evidence of a fire that came  through in 2004. The Hewlett fire also came through in 2012 (which was after these photos were taken).

 Burn area

There is a fork in the trail at about two miles up. This is the base of the loop. Stay to the right and after another mile you'll reach a nice meadow.

Meadow at the top of the loop

More singletrack

You'll reach the top at about 4.5 miles from the parking lot. If you keep going this way you'll reach a steep and rocky downhill section, otherwise turn around at this point and enjoy a nice easy downhill ride.

 The trail near the top

Steep rocky downhill option

Singletrack following the creek

Stream crossing

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fort Collins Foothills Trail (MTB)

The Fort Collins Foothills Trail is a 14 mi long trip with beautiful views, challenging singletrack with rocky uphill and downhill sections. Navigating this trail system can be confusing so I recommend taking a look here and reviewing the route with Google Earth or Google Maps. Here is a screen shot of my GPS route loaded in Google Earth.  

Trail Stats

Round Trip Distance = 14.1 mi
Total Elevation Gain = 1836 ft
Ride Time = 2.5 hr
Trail Type = Several technical sections (rocky)

Trail Walkthrough

Start from the Maxwell natural area parking lot (coordinates: 40.555931,-105.143823) and head south on the trail. When the trail splits at Dixon reservoir keep right. The trail will take you along the side of the ridge, almost to Harmony road and loop back around the other side of the lake. Part of this trail was closed due to muddy conditions when I went, so I had to cross over to the other side of the loop.

 View from the southern end of the trail facing Dixon Reservoir

Dixon Reservoir and Dixon Canyon Dam

After going around Dixon Reservoir ride north past the parking lot into the Maxwell Natural Area. Pass by the stadium, stay to the left and head up the ridge towards Horsetooth Reservoir.

Rocky section in the Maxwell Natural Area

 After you get over the first hill take a left and then a right. This will take you across Centennial Drive and through a parking lot. Head to the north side of the parking lot and stay to the left. This will take you to the shoreline trail part of the trip.

View from the north side of the parking lot facing north. 

Shoreline trail will eventually cross Centennial Drive again. If you continue on the trail past the road it will take you over the ridge down to the CSU foothills campus on a very technical downhill section (a few steep drops) and back up the hill on a very steep part. If you're like me and don't have a full suspension bike and full body armor you can ride north on Centennial drive (across the Soldier Canyon Dam) until you see a trail going to the right.This trail will take you back onto the Foothills trail and into Reservoir Ridge Natural Area. Head into Reservoir Ridge and go clockwise around the loop at the end. Once you go around the loop, head back towards shoreline trail.

View from the north end of Reservoir Ridge (facing south)

Instead of going back on shoreline trail, head south on Centennial drive for a short distance until you reach a trail that follows the road on the right hand side. This will eventually cross the road and enter Maxwell Natural Area. From here head back to the parking lot.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Foothills Trail to the "A" (MTB)

For my first blog post I thought I'd share one of my favorite short mtn bike rides. It ususally takes me about 45 min so it is a good ride to do during the week before work. I ususally feel awake, energized and ready for the day after this steep technical single track ride. This time estimate usually includes taking some pictures, enjoying the brisk early morning view overlooking the city or watching the occasional deer.

Trail GPS track

Trail stats
Round trip dist = 3.5mi
Total elevation gain = 734 feet
Ride time = 45 min
Trail type = rocky technical single track

Trail walkthrough
At the intersection of Prospect and Banyan there is a dirt road that is gated off. Ride up this road about a half mile and you'll reach the Maxwell natural area entrance. Continute about 1/4 mile until you reach the foothills trail and take a right. This begins the steep and rocky part of the ride. At a total distance of 1.4 miles there is a marked fork in the road with the option to continue straigh to the "A" or turn right to continue on the foothills trail. From this point its about 1/4 mile to the "A" and smooth singletrack except for a very steep rocky hill near the top. Once you reach the "A" there is a very nice view of the city to the east and a nice view of Horsetooth reservior and horsetooth rock to the west. I ususally will relax for a short while at the top and take a few pictures.

The trail

View from the top


Once you're ready for the fast technical downhill that is similar to the "easy" trails at Keystone just go back the way you came.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Monarch Lake

This is a nice hike around Monarch Lake which is south east of Lake Granby. This lake is located in the Arapahoe National Forest (entrance fee required, dogs allowed) and more information can be found here.

GPS Track

Trail stats
Total Dist = 4.5 mi
Total Elevation Gain = 880 ft
Hiking Time = 1.5 hours
Trail Type = Singletrack
Difficulty = Easy to Medium
Start Coordinates (copy and paste into google maps):  40.111452 N, -105.74738 W

From Granby turn north onto U.S. Highway 34, travel approximately six miles to County Road (CR) 6. Turn east onto CR 6 (Arapaho Bay Road/NFSR 125), and drive 10 miles to the parking area.

At the beginning of the trail there is a cabin with trail information that is staffed in the summer. From this cabin  we chose to go counter-clockwise around the lake. After going about 0.35 miles we ran into a trail closure due to tree removal. After speaking with someone we found out that we could in fact go clockwise around the lake. So we ended up going an extra 0.7 or so miles because we originally chose the wrong direction.

View from trail start

Before we set out on the hike we sat and watched the tree removal from a safe distance. It was very impressive to see and hear the trees fall. We also gave Gromit the chance to cool off in the lake before we started out.

Gromit enjoying the lake

This is a singletrack trail in good condition and I would say that is was of medium difficulty. I remember that there were many of rocks and roots on the trail, but nothing technical like steep rock gardens or drop-offs. And as you can see by the elevation profile, it is fairly flat with only small climbs and descents as the trail weaves around the lake.

View from about 1.7 miles into the hike

Towards the end of the trail there was an old machine called a steam donkey (sorry no photo) that was a steam powered winch used for logging here back in the early 20th century.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blue Sky Trail (MTB)

This trail starts at Horsetooth Reservior, goes along the foothills through Devil's Backbone Open Space all the way to Highway 34, and then back. It is a long trail with steep climbs lots of rocks and some very technical sections. There are many options for biking in this area as blue sky trail connects to Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, Devil's Backbone Open Space and Coyote Ridge Natural area. See the map for more info.

GPS log

Trail stats
Round trip dist = 20 mi
Total elevation gain = 2,755 feet
Ride time = 3 hours 45 min
Trail type = rocky technical single track
Start Coordinates =  40°31'7.01"N, 105°10'5.53"W

Go west on Harmony road 5.3 miles past Taft Hill (where it becomes West CR 38E) to the Blue Sky Trailhead parking lot. If you park in this lot, plan on paying $6.

Trail walkthrough
From the parking lot turn right when you reach the trail so that you head south towards the Devil's Backbone area. This first section is a gradual 3.1 mi climb up to the intersection with Rimrock Trail. Then stay on Blue Sky Trail for another 0.3 mi and you'll reach the intersection with Indian Summer Trail. I'd recommend taking Indian Summer Trail first rather than on the way back like I did. This trail is a 1 mi (380' vert) climb followed by a 1 mi descent back to Blue Sky.

View of the ridge (facing north)

Go another 1.3 miles on Blue Sky until you reach the Laughing Horse Loop. If you take a left on this loop you will go through extremely difficult rocky terrain with steep drops and long rock gardens. From what I remember going right is much easier.

View from Laughing Horse Loop (I think)

On both Hunter Loop and Wild Loop bikes are only allowed on one side of the loop (not mentioned on the map). After Hunter Loop there is a 1.8 mi (500' vert) descent to Devil's Backbone trail head. Once you reach the trailhead take a lunch break and head back to Horsetooth Reservoir.

Devil's Backbone

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ruby Jewell Lake

This hike is deep in State Forest State Park and journeys up to Ruby Jewell lake at an altitude of 11,250'. 

Trail stats
Round trip dist =5.4 mi
Total elevation gain = 1,642'
Hiking time = 4.5 hours
Trail type = Singletrack
Difficulty = moderate
Start Coordinates:   40°34'59.85"N, 105°57'49.70"W

Take CO14 west from Fort Collins, CO about 75 miles just past the town of Gould. Turn right on to county road 41, pick up a map and pay the park entrance fee. Continue on county road 41 until you reach an improved 4 wheel drive road that heads to Ruby Jewell Yurt. We parked at the yurt as most cars can make it here, but 4 wheel drive vehicles can continue on 1.4 mi to the trailhead.

Start out hiking up the 4 wheel drive trail from the yurt to the trailhead. This isn't the most exciting part of the hike but is necessary if your car dosen't have as much clearance as a Jeep. Once you reach the trailhead it is a singletrack with some rocky parts and a stream crossing, but no problem for our westie.

Our westie (Gromit) on the trail

After you pass the fork in the trail that heads to Kelly Lake you'll pass through a skree field with a few marmot residents.

The trail cuts through a skree field as you get close to timberline 

Just as you reach timberline you'll reach a spot with a nice view of the park and the 12,951 ft Clark Peak.

Nice view 1/4 mile from the lake

We decided to turn back at 40°35'51.66"N, 105°56'20.58"W because of an approaching thunderstorm, reminding us of the unpredictability of alpine weather.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Keystone Mountain Biking 2010

I had been mtn biking at Steamboat many times and I had always wanted to try out another ski resort to see how it was like. I had heard from some friends of mine that Keystone was a very challenging and fun place to go so one day this summer I decided to grab my hardtail Trek 4500 and go try it out.

My trusty Trek Alpha 4500 from 2002

Dist = 3.5 to 5.5 mi per run
Total elevation = All downhill thanks to the bike lift
Trail type = rocky technical single track with features


Keystone rates thier trails like ski runs: green, blue and black. The green trails are fairly difficult singletrack with plenty of rocky sections. The blue trails have more technical sections that include short drop offs and optional manmade features. The black trails are steep and technical and have rock gardens, mandatory drop offs and impressive features like raised boardwalks and berms. I would highly recomend a downhill bike with downhill gear like a helmet with face shield and some body armor (which I don't have).

Easy section of a green trail

View from the trail