Mountain Biking in Southern Colorado

Wilson Peak Mesa Trail

The 2nd annual mountain bike road trip was dreamed up on the ride home from Moab last year. After many guide books and web searches we decided to spend 3 days in Durango and 3 days in Telluride.

Day 1: DRIVE

We left at 5:00 am from Valencia. Not much in the way of excitement until we got to the Four Corners region. It started to pour and just as I opened the window for fresh air a bolt of lightning flashed followed instantaneously by a shotgun blast sound of thunder. After a mediocre Chinese food dinner in on the road and by 10:30 PM we arrived in Durango at the house of an old high school buddy. Many thanks to Joe and Kate for their hospitality.

Day 2: Durango

After checking out the resident bike shops we took off to the Colorado Trail off of 25th street. Within the first 1/4 mile John blew out his derailer and it was back to the Bike Shop.The rest of us continued up for great singletrack to the views of Goudy Point.

colorado1.JPG (17182 bytes) View from Goudy Point.

From here we followed the trail up toward Kennebec Pass. We decided to turn around after about 10 miles out. The rain kicked in as we were heading back. I caught up to some locals and went into major downhill crank mode. Some good jumps and sketchy corners later I was back at Goudy. I waited for the George and Harold as I took in the view. Harold showed up a bit dirtier that I had saw him last. He caught a root and took small pile. The next part of the trail had severe penalties if you missed a corner, I headed down with a bit more caution than before. Some local was just jamming down the trail. I hit a hairpin fully intimidated by his presence. This took its toll causing me to go for a full endo over the bars. The local passed me in a flash. That was the last we saw of him and my inflated ego.

We took off to our accommodations at Purgatory Ski Resort. After settling in, John and I tried out the World Cup Mountain Bike course on the ski slopes. After the earlier ride this was pretty grueling. The downhill section was pretty cool. They need to work on the trail in a few spots and clearly the course does not get as much traffic as the earlier ride in the day. We saw some deer and a ferret eating a mouse. I was ready for dinner.

Day 3: Purgatory and Hermosa Creek

Up early and starting from the resort we bike the 8 miles to the trailhead. This great trail follows Hermosa Creek meandering through pines and aspens. The single track is some of the best I have ever experienced. The uphill at the end will kick your butt.

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One of the many waterfalls in the canyon.  There are many places to stop and take in the wilderness.  The only problem is that you are having so much fun cranking down the trail you just want to keep riding.

This trail is Singletrack Nirvana.

Day 4: Bolsom Pass

We drove up past the turnoff for Hermosa Creek to the junction a junction to Black Mountain. From here up a fire road for a few miles. We passed an old Mining building. From the pass we could see Lizard Peak, Mount Wilson and Wilson Peak. The panorama was breathtaking (and so was the ride to get there).

 

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Day 5: Stoner Mesa

This looked great on the map. Deceptive to say the least. We started on the pavement (8 miles) then on to the fire road.      

 
High-tech Harold on the fire road.

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The beginning of the singletrack at Stoner Mesa.  This trail started out very well marked.

 Stoner Mesa Trailhead

The singletrack was great through the aspen trees.  The farther down the trail we got we realized that many cows on this mesa made their own trails and suddenly the trail finding became difficult. On track on Stoner Mesa
George in the Rain The skies opened up and it poured BIG TIME. Lightning and thunder added to the uncertainty of our route finding. 

Here is George coming in from the sprint across the meadow. There is nothing calming about riding in an open meadow during a lightning storm.

As we came to a pond there were many cows and trails. Route finding turned to the compass and intuition. Intuition prevailed (wrong choice) and we began to meander in the aspen forest.

Here is Harold looking for the trail. We spread out to find some semblance of the right way. One suggestion: "Let's just drop down into this canyon" was quickly voted as "Are you out of your mind". We proceeded to make a big circle and wind up back on the single track.

 

Lost on Stoner Mesa
This sign appeared and lead us to follow the trail to Stoner Creek Bridge. Well that was BACK THE WAY WE CAME. We missed the sign on the way in. It was quite a surprise when we hit the fire road.
Horned Lizard from Stoner Mesa The last thing I thought we would find on this ride was a Horned Lizard. Here it is in George's hand. I will have to check my field guide for the species.

Well Stoner Mesa was quite an education in route finding. We vowed to invest in a GPS for the next run of this trail.

Day 6: Wilson Mesa Trail

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Great views abound on this ride. An once again the trail became faint and we were trail blazing again.  We were having too much fun again and hopped a log at a switchback instead of doing the turn.  It was a  trail but it went nowhere.

On the last day we had in Telluride I suggested that it was "Every Man For Himself" day.  I needed some space!  I woke up early and quietly tried to prepare my bike.  My thought was to casually bike into town for some coffee and bagels and see the sites.  One of the guys stirred and said..."Wait for me"...  NOT.  I took off knowing it would be another 30 minutes until his bike was tuned, camera prepared, snacks meticulously packed and so on.. 

After Java and munchies I biked up to Bridleveil falls.  Great view of the falls, and the valley.  The Trail continued into the high country.  I kept going passing some hikers above timberline.  I followed an old mining road to the snow fields.  It was hike-a-bike over the snow up to the pass.   Later I found out this was Virginius Pass at 13,120 feet.  I found signs for the Hardrock 100 Ultra race through the pass and down toward Telluride.  As I glissaded down the slope with my bike from the pass I could see the Telluride Valley.  The trail was very narrow and steep.  For a solo venture I had to be careful.  I met some people at the creek crossing and scouted the route down.  Some very technical sections and then into the woods.  At one point I lost my concentration and did a head plant over the bars.  It totally took me by surprise. 

The trail eventually opened up to a fire road and people encounters became more frequent.  I was back a the condo by 2:30.   This was a great solo adventure and a highly recommended ride if you get the chance.

Telluride is worth a visiting for a whole week.   I definitely will be coming back.

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