Colorado Mountain Biking Adventures - Part 2
Twin Lakes routes are moderately challenging with a few short, steep climbs. The 470-mile Colorado Trail network traverses the state from Denver to Durango. Several sections are well-known mountain-biking destinations. Although popular with locals, sections around the Twin Lakes area remain relatively untraveled. From the visitor center, head east on the narrow Colorado Trail as it rolls through sagebrush along the lake shore. At 3.3 miles, the trail merges with a dirt road that crosses a dam and enters a parking area. Go west to pick up the signed trail again. Wider now, the fun resumes along the scenic lake shore through dense pine forest. Some short sections are a little steep and rocky approaching the Victorian-style ghost town of Interlaken, where picnics are fun.
Colorado Trail continued: From the westernmost buildings at Interlaken, look for the narrow single track headed west. It continues as an easy to moderate trail for a few miles before merging into a slightly confusing network of trails at the west end of the lake. If you bear right, it is possible to complete a loop around the lake by crossing Lake Creek and a few other smaller creeks. Feet are likely to get wet. The trial transitions to dirt road and back to grass-covered single track as it meanders through tall brush and open meadows. At a parking lot near the historical Nordic Inn, join Colorado 82, with its wide shoulders, and return to the visitor center.
Robbins Trail and Perry Peak Campground: West of Interlaken, the Colorado Trail continues south toward the Collegiate Peaks. More advanced trail options include Willis Gulch and the short Robbins Trail. Again, it is possible to join Colorado 82 and ride back to the visitor center.
Old Stagecoach Road: From Leadville, go south on U.S. 24 for 10 miles and park at the abandoned Moosehead Condos. Cross the bridge and pick up the historical Old Stagecoach Road that meanders along the east side of the Arkansas River as it heads south toward Buena Vista. Mostly an easy to moderate double-track trail as it rolls down to the town of Granite.
Crested Butte may be the most scenic mountain-biking destination in the state. In addition to "the butte," Whetstone Mountain and the Maroon Bells are ever-present landmarks on most rides. In the 8,500-foot-high valley east of Mount Crested Butte, several great trails are available. Perhaps the most advanced is Teocalli Ridge, climbing more than 11,200 feet. Starting with an initial climb, the trail levels out through aspen groves and a stream. At mile 3.6, a steady ascent culminates on top of the ridge. A dirt-road double track with loose sections, exposed roots and two stream crossings.
Strand Hill area: Driving toward Teocalli Ridge 2.6 miles from Colorado 135, look for the Cold Spring Ranch sign and a fence at the base of a winding dirt road. This is the trail head for three interconnecting rides that are favorites of local riders. The steady climbs are mostly on dirt roads. And the long downhill sections are on single track that twists through aspen groves.