Colorado Mountain Biking Adventures - Part 13
Lookout Mountain/Chimney Gulch: From the upper bridge at 2.4 miles, the top of Apex Trail is almost in sight where it intersects Lookout Mountain Road. A dirt trail continues along Colorow Road to the top of the mountain and a nature center with water and restrooms. The trail drops off to the north with more switchbacks for about a mile and joins the Beaver Brook Trail. Go east to cross the paved road at Windy Saddle and look for the Chimney Gulch Trail as it descends northeast for about two miles to Highway 6 near Golden. Take Highway 93 south to return to Heritage Square. Riding the paved Lookout Mountain Road down to Highway 6 is also an option.
Buffalo Creek: Numerous switchbacks highlight this 3.7-mile climb, with several false summits teasing on the way to gaining more than 1,400 feet. The ensuing descent will keep a rider's attention as much of the single track is shared with motorcycles and is badly eroded. Small iron fences denote boundaries, and walking some sections may be prudent. After crossing Bear Creek, another climb awaits, but this one is less than a mile and very manageable. It's also the last climb before more fun single-track descending leads to a service road and an easy cruise down the canyon lot.
Buffalo Creek to Waterton Canyon - Part 1: Described last week, this route lends dramatic views of the burned forest from 1996 fires, which caused the closure of the Top of the World Campground and several trails in the area. Miraculously, there's much new ground vegetation that's lush, colorful and reassuring to see. From the described parking area off of Highway 136, take the first right and continue northwest to cross 126 and two dirt roads. Cross Forest Road 538 at 5.6 miles to begin a more technical descent with loose dirt, rutted gulleys and switchbacks. Part 1 ends at County Road 97 where a bridge crosses over the South Platte River at 11.4 miles. A good out-and-back option is to ride Forest Road 538 at 5.6 miles and go left to the trail to Chair Rocks. This ride is about 13 miles total.
Buffalo Creek to Waterton Canyon, Part 1: One of the most popular sections of the Colorado Trail runs through the Buffalo Creek Mountain bike area west of Highway 126. To the east, the single track is just as beautiful and much less crowded. This route lends dramatic views of sweeping woodlands. Totaling 28.8 miles, it requires leaving a shuttle vehicle at the Waterton Canyon Parking lot. Another option is to leave a shuttle vehicle at the end of Part 1 at the junction with County Road 97 accessed from Deckers.
Buffalo Creek to Waterton Canyon, Part 2: From the bridge at 11.4 miles, the Colorado Trail resumes just across County Road 97 and continues northeast. It's a long and steady climb for the better part of 3.7 miles gaining more than 1,400 vertical feet. Most of the switchbacks are rideable. Several false summits eventually give way to flatter terrain before descending again to Bear Creek at 19.3 miles. The final, one-mile climb crests at the top of Waterton Canyon where a final one-mile single track descent leads to a dirt service road and to the Waterton Canyon parking lot.