Garield County Mountain Bike Trails: New Castle
May 14, 2015
Garfield County offers a wide variety of mountain bike trails — smooth dirt and rocky descents; short, rollercoaster funfests; and long, challenging epics. Plus, terrain spans rocky, desert riding to lush, forest scenes.
There are lots of trails close to towns (or in them), and some that require a long drive into national forest land.
See if you can pry secrets from local bike shops, or at least get advice on trail conditions.
In New Castle, turn north onto Seventh Street (County Road 245) and stay on it as it becomes the New Castle-Buford Road for approximately 6.5 miles to the Mansfield Trailhead, just before the White River National Forest Boundary. About 1.5 miles farther is the Cherry Creek Trailhead.
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These two trails travel from cool aspen at 9,000 feet down through shrubs and pinyon-juniper at 7,000 feet. Often each is ridden as a loop with the climbing on the New Castle-Buford Road for about 6 miles and downhill on the trails. The trails share a starting point, but diverge from there. At one point the two are about 0.5 mile apart, but on opposite sides of a pass.
CHERRY CREEK TRAIL
Distance — 5 miles
Difficulty — Moderate
Turn off the New Castle-Buford Road onto FR 819. The trail heads south from there through Aspen before descending into Cherry Creek, where it stays for the remainder of the ride.
MANSFIELD DITCH TRAIL
Distance — 9.5 miles
Difficulty — Moderate
There are two choices for the start: Turn off the New Castle-Buford Road onto FR 819 (as with Cherry Creek trail), but head north and down a drainage to Mansfield Ditch; or go another 0.25 mile on FR 245 to FR 820 and travel about 2 miles down that road to the private-land boundary and head east to the ditch. The ditch trail stays mostly on a contour between 8,000 and 8,500 feet for about 5 miles. With about 4 miles to go, the trail dips below 8,000 feet before dropping the final 1,000 feet in the last 1.5 miles.
From I-70, take exit 90 for Colorado Highway 13 towards Rifle. Travel approximately 0.2 miles and turn right onto Highway 13 North. Travel 1.5 miles and turn left on West 16th Street. Turn onto Rifle Bypass after 0.6 miles then continue on County Road 244 (Fravert Reservoir Road). Turn right on County Road 290 and travel approximately 1 mile to the parking lot.
This desert riding area is a maze of unmarked trails and roads. The best advice is to head to the parking area and explore. Though there are other trails, these areas offer the best mountain biking in the area. Riders can also park across from the Forest Service and ride up Fravert Reservoir Road for a warm-up.
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