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5,275 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a map nerd. I get maps of areas and go exploring with my imagination on the curves of the topo and the dashes of trail lines. I first saw this ride quite a while ago doing just that and imagining what a great loop it would be. The ride: Up and over Guanella Pass from Georgetown in the Jeep to the Burning Bear CG on the other side. Bike back up Guanella Pass Rd to the top, then hit South Park Trail, Red Cone Jeep Rd, and Burning Bear Trail to make a loop. My dreams were further fueled by mtbr friends with reports of awesomeness. I finally had a day to do it. Today. It worked out well as I've got a bunch going on that required some solitude and some thinking time.

Solo mission to South Park, here I come!

I've gotta say, this ride completely blew away all of my expectations from start to finish. Starting with the beginning of the ride - As it turns out, the road on the south side of the pass is under construction so there's no where to park legally. That meant parking back up closer to the summit where they weren't working. Unfortunately, that'd been a long road climb out at the end of the ride. Oh well.

Up the road to the mountain center in the far distance. Start time 9:15am

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Guanella Pass at 9:51am - not bad, only about 1/2 hour of climbing. At least I was warmed up. Quick bathroom stop and I was on my way. Skies were clear-ish and I was feeling good.

Down South Park trail just a bit. The views do not dissapoint.

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Long climbs
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This is where things started to feel more like a real adventure. See the trail? Me neither. Cairn hunting was the rule for the next coupe of miles. The cairns would lead up and over the ridge in the foreground.
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Up and over the ridge and this was the descent. See the cairn? It was like freestyling it straight down a ski slope. It was sooo steep that I could hear my spokes pinging as the wheel flexed under braking and cornering.

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Once into the trees, the steep pitch didn't let up but the trail got more interesting. Rooty and fast. Loved this part.
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Once at the bottom, you hit a road and get to cross Geneva Creek. The crossing wasn't too bad. It was the first of many times my shoes would get totally soaked.

The climb out of the Geneva drainage and up Kirby Gulch was tough involved hiking. Loose rocks, steep trail and deadfall. Adventure. #itsnotmountainbikingunlessyourehiking. right?

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Up to right around timberline again. The trail was super faint. See it?

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This was climbing up Bruno Gulch. I really loved this part. It was like Cerain St Vrain on steroids.
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Up to timberline again. This was right about at the end of South Park Trail where it climbs up to Red Cone jeep road. This is looking back where I had come up from.
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And this was the view ahead. Red Cone was just out of sight on the horizon! 1:52pm
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Red Cone - what a descent! Super steep and extra chunky. Kinda was wanting full suspension for that one! I was already tired from bouncing around on the rocks.
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Spent a few miles riding down the road.
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Finally! Last trail of the day. Burning Bear, #601
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Burning Bear was really nice. It was intermittently rideable and hike a bike but probably more rideable in its entirety than anything else I'd been on. Felt good to pedal but my legs were getting tired.
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Burning Bear trail is worth hitting in and of itself. I really liked.
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Thennnnn, I was not liking it so much. By now, the rain was pouring and thunder and lightning were directly overhead. This part of the trail was a long and wet hike.
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Finally up and over the top of Burning Bear and ready to enjoy my final descent of the day. Despite the fact that I was chilly and soaked to the bone, my stoke level was high. Fortunately, almost all of the Burning Bear descent looked like this. Or chunkier with more roots. Burning Bear back to Guanella Pass Road reminded me a LOT of Lion Gulch (which I miss dearly!).
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Even though I'd been riding all day at or above timberline, this was one of my favorite views of the day. It was at the very end of Burning Bear and the mist and rain and clouds all came together for a memorable shot. 3:45pm? My memory is as fuzzy on that as the clouds were.
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Now the not so fun part. I had to ride back up Guanella Pass to the top to get the Jeep! That turned into a slog. By that time, it was raining pretty hard and still crashing thunder and lightning. The road was soft and slow but it felt good to pedal and spin. It was a welcome change to the grinding and hike a bike from most of the singletrack of the day.
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Parting shot. Made it. 4:29pm. The ride was about 7 hrs 15min door to door - about 6 hours of that was ride time. Total stats were just shy of 7000' climbing and 31.1 miles.
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South Park did not dissapoint! I will absolutely be back.

Here's Strava deets:

1,002 Posts
Awesome!!! I used to do the exact same thing all the time. Grab a map, look for anything that could connect, go out, get lost, get found and be completely spent and love it. I think you have just inspired me to get off my lazy azz and pick up a map again.:thumbsup::thumbsup:

5,275 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I clicked on this thread expecting to see a burning bear but I was pleasantly sir are awsome

So how much of that trip was single track and how much of it was good old hike a bike?

lots of hike a bike. Um... But mostly hiking on singletrack :) #itsnotmountainbikingunlessyourehiking

5,275 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It was so much awesome it was almost unbearable ;) As far as GPS, I put it up on Strava. That's about all I'm technologically gifted enough to do.

It's all on the Lat 40 Summit map as well as the Lat 40 Front Range map. Route finding was not an issue - everything was relatively easy to find.

Agent of tang
1,141 Posts
and this is why, when seeing advice from people on mtbr, you need to know who is giving and who is receiving. 7000' and 31 miles would hurt me on good trail. I am sure I would still be somewhere out in the woods if I attempted this one. Well done!

5,275 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Guanella Pass Rd has a ton of construction (they are paving the road) and the Burning Bear trailhead is technically closed. You can't park anywhere on the road. Unless you're prepared to ride this as a loop, it would be a pain. They are running a pilot car guide cars thru the construction. You'd be waiting a long time.
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