Pitkin County bike trails: Hay Park, El Jebel
April 10, 2018
Getting there: From Carbondale, take CO-133 south and turn left on Prince Creek Road. After a few miles, the road turns to dirt. You'll top out at an intersection; from there, turn right and proceed a few miles to the parking lot. From there, you'll head across the road and begin climbing. (You should see a trail marker and kiosk.)
Trail talk: The scenery draws people to Hay Park, and it keeps them coming back. The rocky first mile of climbing makes for a difficult ride, but the views are worth it.
Distance: 18.6 miles
The dirt: Grind up the trail. You'll know you've hit the halfway point when you come to a left switchback. At a cattle gate, the rail will smooth out and the ride will become more enjoyable. There's one intersection on the trail. Here, bear left toward Hay Park; the right path would take you toward Thomas Lake and Mount Sopris. You'll come to a stream crossing and then ride along the river. Eventually, you'll enter a lower meadow and cross a wooden bridge. A final climb will take you through another cattle gate. After about 4 miles, you'll find yourself in the upper meadow, which offers captivating views of Capitol Peak. From here, you can turn around and enjoy a fast return trip or plow forward for 5 more miles of difficult singletrack on the way to Capitol Creek Road.