Going into the summer, I had a few rides on my bucket list. Aberdeen was one of them. In late May, I started to hear the flowers were going off down there so it moved to the top of my list.
Aberdeen is much more remote feeling than a lot of the riding at Hartman’s. The trail actually dips out of Gunnison County into Saguache County. It also offers the longest sustained climb and descent at Hartman Rocks that I can think of and a good chunk of singletrack riding. With the launch of the new CBGTrails app and the included TrailQuest game, I’ve started planning my big weekend rides around racking up those trail miles. Memorial Day seemed like a great day to tackle Aberdeen.
A lot of people drive Powerline Road in to go ride Aberdeen, but Tom recommended we park at Bambi’s and ride from there to get even more trail miles. To get to Bambi’s, we headed out Gold Basin Road in the direction of the Hartman Rocks Base Area. Then we just followed the map on the CBGTrails app until we hit the start of Bambi’s and parked in the small parking lot at the Trailhead.
Riding the Aberdeen Loop
The ride started out great. I’d never been down at that part of Hartman’s and I really enjoyed the dramatic rock features and the tall vegetation. Then, when going for one of the rock moves, I put a foot down and my flat pedal came around and took several large chunks out of my shin with one of the spikes. Foolishly, we didn’t have our first aid kit with us and so we turned around, rode back to the truck, cleaned it out, and bandaged everything up. Still wanting to get our miles in, we started up Bambi’s again. I have since stocked both of our backpacks with first aid supplies.
We rode Bambi’s to Outback road, then pinned it to the parking area on Powerline Road, and down to hike across Beaver Creek. Apparently walking across a creek with a large wound in your shin isn’t a good idea, as I found out when I went to the Doctor to get my requisite tetanus shot following a deep puncture. I’m sharing so everyone can learn from my errors.
After crossing, we climbed the road a bit more and made a left on West Aberdeen. That is a nice piece of trail at a really nice gradient. Compared to the steep stuff I ride near my house in Cement Creek, Aberdeen was glorious. After a nice long, but gradual, climb, we descended through some nice flowy trail to a two-track road. There is about a mile or so of two-track riding to get to East Aberdeen and another little climb there.
We didn’t see many people out there, but we did see a small herd of cows. That’s one of the best parts about the Aberdeen Loop. You can see the town of Gunnison from a lot of the trails at Hartman Rocks, which is cool in its own right. But if you want remote riding with big vistas, Aberdeen is the way to go.
East Aberdeen offered more smooth, flowy downhill with a couple climbs in the middle. There were also a few technical moves, but for the most part it was just a nice flow trail. It finishes up right by the creek in a super lush area with a lot of really green vegetation. Tom and I hiked across the creek, again, and headed back up Powerline Road.
Powerline road was probably the hardest climb we tackled all day. The photo gives you some perspective on how high the powerlines are compared to the creek! I was worked by this point (those shin lacerations took it out of me), and it was hard. On the way back, we hit Outback and Back-In to rack up some more singletrack miles. It was worth it. The flowers out there were good enough that I stopped a couple of times just to look at them. Lupine, paintbrush, and a bunch that I didn’t recognize.
After a little more dirt road time we picked up Bambi’s again. Tom took a slight detour on Sawtooth because he’d never ridden it before. We met back up where it connects back to Bambi’s. His assessment of Sawtooth is that it’s probably better ridden south to north given the way the rock moves worked. Then it was a quick ride back down Bambi’s and then home to properly clean out my shin and enjoy a beer on the deck.
All together, we rode 17.21 miles and I earned 10.89 unique trail miles toward TrailQuest. Tom “pocket-paused” his recording part way through so he’ll have to go back and do it again. A good tip to avoid the pocket-pause: after you switch on your recording, toggle over to the map feature in the app. That way, even if you do manage to unlock your phone in your pocket, you’re way less likely to mess up your recording.
Aberdeen is one of the best ways to get a good amount of singletrack trail miles in the early or late season before the big epics melt out (keep in mind that the stuff south of the Powerlines at Hartman Rocks doesn’t open until May 15th due to sage grouse mating season). I like to think my injury slowed me down and that’s why it took me just under 4 hours and that I probably could do it a little faster than that. When we do go back, we’ll still probably do the climb from Bambi’s because I like it back there. Next time, we’ll definitely get Sawtooth on the way to Aberdeen so we can ride it in the proper direction.