Regional: There’s still plenty of great riding around Grand County
Mountain Biking with Keith
The snow on the ground is a reminder that weather always wins and winter is ready to pounce at any time. As much as I love the winter, I’m not ready to put the bike away. I guess it is the sound of the tires on the ground, wind in my face and the feeling of the bike rolling under me that makes me want the fall to continue.
A challenge with fall weather is knowing where to ride when snow flies, what trails remain good when things get wet and how to work around the weather. Early season snows followed by the days of Indian Summer will have you expanding your normal rides and how you think about riding your favorite routes.
There are a few places in the valley that offer some great riding when trails elsewhere are too wet and muddy to use. These are a few of my “go to” places to ride when the upper valley is a bit too wet or covered with snow.
Granby Ranch: This is one of the hidden secrets here in Mountain Bike Capital USA. Many associate it with downhill, but the cross country riding is excellent. This is a must-ride area if you haven’t been there. Granby Ranch has been active to create quality cross country riding in addition to its downhill offerings. This is one of the places where you will see quite a few locals at this time of year. The trails are marked and you can find maps at http://www.granbyranch.com. The majority of the cross country trails are south of the ski runs. Park at the base area of Granby Ranch and begin your ride by going up Natures Way. From here you have several options such as Low Road, Rabbit, Cabin, Ying, Yang and Lower Sidewinder to name a few. Granby Ranch was host to the USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Cross Country Championship in 2009 and 2010. Most trails are intermediate and above in skill and are physically demanding. One hint: You will find clay on some of the roads in the valley floor so stay on the singletrack when you can.
The Phases: The Phases near Tabernash offer some great riding. These trails are some of the last to be covered by snow and due to the sun exposure tend to dry out or melt a bit more quickly than the trails around Winter Park. The Phases are on land managed by the BLM. This means that you will not find trail signs in the area. Unlike the Forest Service, the BLM has not marked the trails in this part of the valley. To ride them the first time I suggest you have someone who is familiar with the area give you a tour. The website http://www.mountainbikecapitalusa.com by the Winter Park Chamber will have some information soon on the area. All that said, it is worth the effort to ride there. You will find the trails to be harder both physically and skill-wise than most in the area. Climbs are a bit steeper and trails more challenging in places. These are a couple reasons that they are so popular with the locals.
To reach the Phases drive west out of Winter Park. Turn right on county road 83 (road to Devil’s Thumb). Turn left at the first intersection on county road 84. Take the first left after crossing over Hurd Creek- BLM 2751. Drive about 1/2 mile and you will find a small parking lot on your left just before you enter the trees. Tip: Lots of dead trees around the parking lot; park far enough away that they won’t fall on your vehicle. You will find a series of trails off of the Hurd Peak road which is directly across from the parking area. To reach the first trail ride up the Hurd Peak road, go through the second gate. Just after the second gate there is a small island of trees on your left. Look for a trail on the far side of those trees. This will connect you to several other trails in the area. As noted before they are a bit difficult to find and are not marked.
Enjoy the fall riding. Have fun, repeat as often as you can.
Looking for more information? Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. Check out http://www.mountainbikecapitalusa.com.
Keith Sanders is president of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach him at email@example.com
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