I've been biding my time waiting for the weather to dry up, and then the higher temps to cool down since the Grand Opening to get up there and check out the trails. Today looked like the pick day of the week....until last nights ~ 1" of rain in Ft. Collins. :madman:
I was a glad to see blue skies at dawn, and checking Ft. Collins flood stations, showed that the brunt of the storm hit my house, but the N side got almost nothing so I threw everything in the truck and headed N.
The roads had been pretty dry .... until I got a few miles from the TH and then there was lots of standing water on the sides of the road.
I parked at the South lot, and got my stuff out. I walked a short section of trail to see how muddy it was, and finding it very tacky
vs flat a$$ muddy, I decided to give it a try.
I had been planning a loop up the W Pronghorn trails, Sandy Wash, to Canyon, then a quick loop on Mahogany, back to Canyon, all the way up to Cheyenne Rim and then back to the lower lot. If you have the map or the LINK
to the trail map, I was planning from the TH to go W- U- X- Y-T-Q-V-T-M-H-K and all the way back to the TH.
Right away I was deafened by all of the bird calls in the underbrush along the trail. Horned Larks, Lark Buntings, Towhees, Meadow Larks were calling everywhere. Pronghorn is ST but wide in places. It also has seen very little use as it fades in and out occasionally as it rolls across the prairie... "Where the Deer and Antelope Play"
The trail conditions varied from very
tacky to almost dry but I was still getting a pretty heavy build up on my tires as I rolled along. I hit a nice fun downhill for a ways then got to my first junction. Those familiar with Blue Sky and HTMP will recognize the junction markers. I stopped to pull out my map to see where I was...."U" junction.
Pressing on up Pronghorn was more of the same ST, then I got to Sandy Wash :madman: :madmax:
. Not even Dbl Track, just a nasty gravelly road climb that seemed twice as long as the mileage on the map.
I finally got to Canyon after forever
, and crossed through another gate. Canyon started out as standard issue dbl track as it starts the long climb up the canyon. Just as I got to the Mahogany turn off, I had a mechanical with my front derailleur . It took awhile, but it was just from all the built up mud and gravel jambing it up. I decided to bag Mahogany, after the delay and the forecast for severe storms in the afternoon and kept climbing up Canyon. The further up you ride, the fainter it gets, and just when you think you're going to have to do a service road steep climb up a nasty gravel road, a nice ST trail shows up. Unmarked, unsigned...the only signage is for something that is NOT a Trail
, so I headed up. It was a beautiful moderate climb up a side valley, through Mahogany and a carpet of flowers at first, before breaking out near the crest of the Cheyenne Ridge.
The ST rejoins the now much faded dbl track for several more miles across the high prairie. Don't get caught up here in the wind !! It would be brutal !!!
It finally meets the Cheyenne Rim Trail in Red Mtn Natural Area. Through 2 gates and you're riding 1000' above The Big Hole and looking down towards Red Mountain.
What's all those white spots in the meadow ?
A screaming long downhill followed by an equally long climb back up, out of Red Mountain, gets you to a nice section of trail that might
get a bit techy over the years with great views as it rolls along a nice cliff.
Then it's back to almost 6 miles of fast downhill fun, mostly ST as it contours around small canyons and a few brief dbl track sections. The trail is very well built, nice bermed corners, some water bars to catch a little air, and as much as I hate to use the term, just some really great flow
This is where I was getting slightly spooked though, since here is so signage at all back there. There are several faint dbl tracks that cross your path, a few have the tiny ground level sign saying Not a Trail
but every time the next long section of ST branches off the short bits of dbl track, you're lucky
to find a 3 rock cairn marking the turn off. Keep your eye's open !
You're out in the middle of no where, and there is no water available, even at the TH's, so be sure you carry enough.
After the long downhill, you finally hit the short section of dbl track that takes you back to the parking lot swooping through several cool arroyos.
Final tally after 4 hrs riding, with several photo stops.
No other humans seen, I quit counting the Antalope after the first 2-3 miles, probably 20-30, not even another bike track until 1 mi from my return to the TH. Ahhhhh.... :thumbsup:
Who these trails will appeal to: Long distance xc riders. You can easily put together 30-40 mi loops without retracing a trail, decent climbing, fun sweeping downhills.
Who won't lke this area: Anyone that has to have a technical challenge, there is none at this time.