Durango

Durango was the place we liked most of all we visited in Colorado. The possibilities for biking in the area are immense. The mountain biking around Durango is fantastic. There are no less than five areas with trails. Even though one of the largest, Missionary Ridge, was closed due to the devastating forest fires 2002, we felt there was more to ride in Durango than in any other place. The trails are highly varied. In the Horse Gulch area they are desert like. North of town are high alpine trails climbing as high as 3000 metres.


The town of Durango is larger than it appears. One realizes in the rush hours when there is a lot of traffic. We stayed in United Camping a few kilometres north on the road to Silverton. It was a nice camp site. The museum rail way between Durango and Silverton went straight through the camping, contributing to the entertainment.

We soon made friends with Bob and Anne who lived in a mobile home. Splendid people



Party at Bob's and Anne's

Durango has often been said to be the cycling capital of the US. There is something to it. The trails are incredibly varied, there are a couple of good bike shops, the season is long, and most importantly a lot of the locals are into mountainbiking. When we were in Durango the NORBA-finals were held in the Durango Resort. It was a kind of mountainbike festival. Lots of riders and supporters. All the important companies had service tents. Many of our neighbours on United Camping were racing.


Luke our neighbour

Gave us a
ride up

We liked to watch
trials most

Lifting downhillers

Shimano service

Intense service



Horse Gulch

The most popular area is known as the Horse Gulch. All the trails in the area are non-motorized: i.e., totally free from motorbikes and ATVs. Horse Gulch is just next to town. It is dry and arid. Trails are narrow hardpack, with occasional rocky pitches. A map produced by Trails 2000 is available free of charge. All of the trails are great fun.




The Raider Ridge trail is a technical trail along the crest of a ridge with the same name. Challenging and fun! Rocky road connects the  Raider  Ridge with the Horse Gulch valley below. The Telegraph  Trail climbs a ridge in switchbacks ending with a really steep and technical climb. Sidewinder is a fast twisting trail. South Rim follows the rim of a flat top mountain, winding in and out of gullies, on roughly the same altitude. Great fun! Big Canyon is a fast undulating trail that goes down the dry bed of a stream, going up and down the sides of it. Crites Connect is a rocky and exposed trail that connects Telegraph and Sidewinder. All trails are great fun. There is every reason to envy the citizens of Durango that they have such a splendid mountainbike area in the middle of the city. 


Raider Ridge

Raider Ridge

Rocky Road

Rocky Road

Rocky Road

Telegraph Trail


Sidewinder



South Rim


South Rim


Big Canyon


Crites Connect

Colorado Trail

The Colorado Trail that goes all the way from Denver on a circuitous route through the mountains ends in Durango. We rode the last leg from close to the Kennebeck Pass. It was long beautiful ascent, up the Junction Creek Road, a climb to Animas Overlook, then fairly level riding along the crest of a 3000 meters high ridge, on FS 171, to a mountain called Little Olga. There we left the road and picked up the Colorado Trail heading down Fassbinder Gulch.

The trail was consistent singletrack winding and twisting downwards. There were switchbacks, the path clinged on narrow ledges, passed waterfalls, and gorges hemmed in by precipitous cliffs.  Most of the way down to  Walls Gulch  we were losing altitude and were pretty close to the valley floor. It was  followed by a steep technically demanding ascent and high traverses on the slopes far above Junction Creek until we reached a spot marked as Top of Climb (2910 m). Then, it was all downhill again all the way to Junction Creek, with some really interesting switchbacks approaching the creek.

It was a splendid outing, an epic ride in the true sense of the word.


At last singletrack

Meadow with wild flowers

Path on carved out ledges

Canyon walls



An epic ride

Hermosa Trail

The Hermosa Trail is a famous epic ride. It is usually ridden down hill from north to south. One goes up to Durango Mountain Resort, a ski area some 30 kilometres north, along the San Juan Skyway. From the resort one continues on a dirt road across a 2977 meters pass into the Hermosa Basin and down to an area called Hermosa Park, a grassy plain. One crosses the Hermosa Creek and then the singletrack begins. The first 10 kilometres it is fairly wide. Further down the gorge it becomes more narrow. Some sections are rather exposed, following a contour line far above the creek on ledges carved out for the trail. Approximately halfway down the trail begins to climb seriously leaving the creek way below. The last sections down to the road are on a broad fast trail.

From Hermosa Park to the road head is approximately 30 kilometres of singletrack. It was a beautiful ride: one of the best we had in Colorado. We liked it so much that we did it twice.


Bob dropping us at the trail head

Ford

Hermosa Park

Coasting

     The trail is rather broad


Exposed section

Friendly natives

The last kilometres the path is broad and fast

 

Jones Creek

The Jones Creek trails begins just where the Hermosa trail reaches the roadhead. It climbs on steep switchbacks up to a 3000 meters high ridge: a splendid climb and a great descent. On the crest of the ridge one can follow the Pinkerton Flagstaff trail.


 

Pinkterton Flagstaff

The Pinkerton Flagstaff follows a ridge on high altitude. There are several places where one can join  the trail. It is great to ride the ridge with the mountain falling on the sides and splendid views.

We reached it from the Jones Creek Trail, rode the ridge south till we reached a dirt road (barely jeepable), then we returned and rode the Jones Creek down.

Splendid views

Riding on the ridge

 
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