Colorado Mountain Biking Adventures - Part 3
Farris Creek is probably the easiest route, topping out at about 9,800 feet. Strand Hill reaches about 10,100 feet and perhaps offers the best views. Trail 402 is the longest of the three and has the most technical descent after climbing to 10,000 feet. It also involves a stream crossing before it joins the Teocalli Ridge Trail. Local books describe riding to the trails from town. But the dirt roads can be dusty and busy on weekends. A parking lot and a portable toilet are found 2.6 miles from Colorado 135.
Colorado Trail routes consist of mostly smooth single tracks with large, imbedded rocks and some loose rocks. The Colorado Trail weaves nicely in and out of the foothills of the Collegiate Peaks range of Fourteeners. From Mount Harvard south past Mount Shavano, it eventually joins the Continental Divide south of Highway 50. This is some of the best mountain biking in the Buena Vista / Salida area. The described section begins below Mount Princeton and features an out-and-back leg to some picturesque waterfalls. It's mostly a rolling trail with little elevation changes. Many large imbedded rocks almost seem to reach out to grab turning pedals. Weight shifts and stuttered pedaling will help.
Monarch Crest Trail: This ride starts at the top of Monarch Pass and follows the Continental Divide between 11,000 and 12,000 feet with great views. After some moderate climbing, 12 miles of mostly downhill single track lead to Marshall Pass. From here, trail options include riding an old train grade or following the Colorado Trail to Highway 285 at Mears Junction. A more advanced option is the Rainbow Trail with 28 more miles of single track. A car shuttle to the top of the pass is required.
Midland Railroad area: There are several less gnarly trails easily accessible from Buena Vista. The Midland Trail was the area's first designated mountain bike trail. From the east end of Main Street, cross the footbridge over the Arkansas River. At a junction, County Road 304 and the Midland Trail go right for 8 miles before ending at Highway 24. Heading left at the junction takes you to County Road 371. Both eventually head east and can be joined as a loop.
Old rail beds make a fine ride. Like many other Colorado mountain towns, the old mining roads and abandoned railroad routes around Aspen make for excellent mountain bike trails. The Denver and Rio Grande was Aspen's first railroad in 1887. Today, the abandoned railroad bed offers easy, scenic riding along the Roaring Fork River. The first 1.8 miles are paved bike path with numerous dirt spurs that are fun options. Just before a bridge at Cemetery Lane, go left under the bridge where the trail turns to dirt. Ride behind Red Butte and on to a junction at 5.8 miles. A more technical single track goes left; or the dirt road on the right goes past houses to a paved road and the junction to Woody Creek where a popular, historic tavern offers refreshments.
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