Colorado Mountain Biking Adventures - Part 5
Although the Carolyn's Bliss ride is not as long as others found in nearby Jefferson County Open Space, it is fun and challenging. Inspired by a local rider, the trail begins on a blissful single-track climb through a dense pine forest. At the ride's high point, trees yield to an open hilltop. Continue straight as the single track descends into the forest, where some worthwhile trail options are found. Returning from the high parking lot, look right for the double track route crossing through the creek for some fun cruising. At the high intersection, go right to rejoin the single-track descent back to the lower parking lot.
Cub Creek: This more advanced trail vacillates between smooth single tack and loose, rocky double track. Twelve-inch water logs and exposed roots add to the challenge. This is 7.25 miles roundtrip through thick forest. The route ends at the boundary to Mount Evans Wilderness area. The trailhead is found off the dirt Black Forest Road past the Brook Forest Inn, or it can be ridden as an extension of Carolyn's Bliss by riding down to the trailhead from the upper parking lots.
Echo Lake: Many road riders from Team Evergreen climb Squaw Pass Road to Echo Lake as a convenient training ride. Park at the softball fields at the intersection of Jefferson County Road 73 and Squaw Pass Road, just south of Bergen Park. Begin a steady ascent at 1.7 miles until you top out at 14.9 miles on Juniper Pass. Descend three miles to Echo Lake where a lodge offers refreshments before you have to tackle the return trip.
Steamboat trails offer plenty of wheel fun. Although Steamboat Springs does not immediately come to mind as a mountain-biking destination, the area is surrounded by a variety of excellent trail options. Mad Creek features some fun and relatively easy single-track riding that's close to town. The short distance makes this a perfect ride for late-day or half-day options. The vegetation is lush with aspen groves and thick ferns 3 to 4 feet tall. The route also skirts a number of historic houses and a barn. The initial 0.3 miles is a little steep as it traverses a narrow canyon wall, but it levels off.
County Road 128: CR 128 intersects with the Mad Creek Trail 1.5 miles from the trailhead. Here, a gate leads to a smooth dirt road that meanders northeast before crossing Mad Creek near some old log cabins. A rolling climb opens up to a field with great views of the Flat Top Mountain range. The road descends for about 2 miles to meet County Road 129. This leg is also done as a climb starting on CR 129 to join the Saddle Trail.
Red Dirt Trail: From the trail intersection at 1.5 miles, the single-track Saddle Trail climbs west to join the Red Dirt Trail. There's a modest climb gaining about 400 feet of elevation to the summit with views of the Mad Creek Valley. Continue another 0.1 miles and go left to join the Red Dirt Trail heading west. Going east dead ends at Mount Zirkel Wilderness area. Continuing west on single track leads to a technical descent under power lines to join CR 129 and the paved road back to the trailhead. This leg is often combined with CR 128 for a longer loop option of 8.1 miles.