Usually about this time of year I start thinking about favorite trails like old friends I’m going to go see soon. Those trails usually form the basis of my summer riding bucket list in the Gunnison Valley. But as I get more technically proficient on my bike, the list of trails that I can ride continues to expand. This spring, I’ve been making a list of new trails that I haven’t explored yet.
Some are obvious ones that every rider in the Valley needs to tick off their list (I’m almost ashamed to put this list out publicly since I’m missing so many classics) and others are a little bit farther away and harder to get to. Here are my top must-ride trails for summer 2017!
Aberdeen Loop at Hartman Rocks
I’ve already gotten a couple of rides under my belt at Hartman Rocks this season, but the Aberdeen Loop is south of Powerline Road which means it’s in protected Gunnison Sage Grouse habitat and won’t open until May 15 (more info on Sage Grouse can be found on the Gunnison Trails website).
The Aberdeen Loop is a nearly 17 mile loop of mixed desert flow and tech that is mostly on singletrack. Because it’s farther from town and a longer loop with fewer ditch out points than some of the other trails at Hartman Rocks, it doesn’t get ridden nearly as much. But I’ve heard from numerous people that I would really like it. My husband Tom, unfortunately, isn’t one of those people. He has ridden it once and doesn’t really love the idea of riding it again so I’ll have to find someone else to be my partner in crime for that day. I’m thinking I can recruit Leia to show me some Gunnison trail!
Canyon Creek is one of those famous local epics. It’s in the far southeastern reaches of the valley and comes down off the Continental Divide so it’s a bear to even just drive out there. Then, the approach on bikes is a steep climb on an old jeep road full of loose rocks followed by a hike a bike before you top out at 12,581 feet on the Continental Divide. I struggle to just hike at that elevation. But I’ve heard from many a person that the struggle is worth it.
People don’t ride Canyon Creek for the climb. They ride it for the nearly 10 mile and 3,000 foot downhill. It starts out with a few miles of the prettiest above-treeline singletrack in the world. Then it dips into the trees and turns into a pretty darn technical trail (for the Gunnison Valley!). Like many of my favorite trails in the Valley, this is one that is shared with motos. I love the features that trails get from this shared use– stepdowns and roots galore! According to Greg Heil over at singletracks.com, Canyon Creek gets easier as you go down, turning into a pumpy bermfest to reward you for your effort higher on the trail. I’ll probably shoot for this one in early September after I have a lot of riding under my belt and the monsoon season is over.
Much like Daniel, I have never ridden Deer Creek. It’s an absolute stunner of the trail that is very popular with visitors, but doesn’t get nearly as much love from the locals. So much of our riding in the north end of the Gunnison Valley is a hard uphill slog to a fun, steep, fast downhill. Deer Creek isn’t like that. I can’t tell you the number of people who have told me it’s uphill the whole time.
That being said, my good friend Pip told me that the way to do Deer Creek is to pack plenty of snacks and water and go out with a good friend and the intention of just spending the day out on the trail and enjoying each other’s company. Sign me up! I’ll be trying to hit this one when the flowers are at peak since Deer Creek is famous for its blooms.
Favorites—Doctor Park and Teo Ridge
The first three on my bucket list will all be new to me. But there are a couple of trails that I will make a point of riding every single year. Those trails are Doctor Park and Teo Ridge. A college buddy came to town last summer to race in the Big Mountain Enduro and chose Doctor Park as a trail to ride on one of his preview days. He has ridden bikes all over the world and came back from that ride saying the Doctor Park downhill is one of the best downhills he has ever ridden. It’s a truly phenomenal trail and no summer in CB is complete without at least one trip to the Doctor.
The second repeat trail I HAVE to do this summer was new to me last summer. Teocalli Ridge is known for having a brutal uphill and then a fantastic downhill. I concur with that statement. I rode it on a really hot day where the bugs were out and the climb was rugged. But the downhill is worth every crank on the pedals and footstep of hike-a-bike. Note that there are people who can clean the uphill. I am not one of those people.
My plan this summer is to ride at least 250 unique miles of trail, or a third of the total miles in the Valley. In about a month, we’ll fill you in on why I’m shooting for 250!