Garfield County bike trails: Prince Creek, Carbondale
April 10, 2018
Getting there: From Carbondale's roundabout, travel about 1.5 miles south to Prince Creek Road. Turn left, and then travel about 2.5 miles until the pavement ends. Ride the dirt road about 0.25 mile to the inconspicuous trailhead on the left. The Bull Pen parking lot is set for a midsummer opening; keep an eye on rfmba.org for the latest.
Trail talk: The Prince Creek area offers easier riding than Red Hill through meadows and pinyon-juniper; one of the trails takes you over a car. You can opt out, but there are ramps built so you can ride over it lengthwise. Also, if you like climbing, give Innie a spin. There are additionally four-wheel drive roads that riders use to climb to the top of Crown, which they ride down on a combination of four-wheel drive roads, plus named and unnamed trails. Trails start about 4 miles from Carbondale, and lots of people ride up the pavement to get there.
Distance : 2.5 miles
The dirt: North Porcupine is considered a fun, rolling ride that offers views of Carbondale below. The trail takes riders far from the trailhead with little climbing, and a lung-busting loop can be made using Innie and Outie.
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Distance : 2.8 miles
The dirt: Buckhorn is usually considered to be the far end of the trail system, though it's the beginning when coming from Basalt on the paved rails-to-trails Rio Grande Trail. The difficult rating comes from the loose, rocky descent to (or climb from) the Rio Grande. The views of Missouri Heights are outstanding, as are the wildflowers in summer.
Distance : 0.3 miles
The dirt: Yeah, it's short, but this downhill-only trail is all about fun. Following a drainage, the trail sweeps from side to side, up some short climbs and over some optional jumps. If you like this trail, try Father Ginormous, which is in a different drainage and is
about 2 miles long.
Distance : 1.6 miles
The dirt: As an introduction to the Prince Creek trails (for those coming from Carbondale), this easy trail winds tightly through oak brush, across a ditch and over a car (a Monte Carlo, of course). Riders can connect to numerous trails and roads from this trail.
PORCUPINE/ROCK BOTTOM LOOP
Distance : 16 miles
The dirt: This circuit is only half on dirt, but it's a classic nonetheless. Start from Carbondale and ride up to the Prince Creek system, stringing together Monte Carlo, Christmas Tree, North Porcupine, Outie and Buckhorn. Enjoy an easy spin back to Carbondale on the Rio Grande bike path.