If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s worth a spin. As several riders I encountered commented, any new trail in the Boulder vicinity is worth getting excited about.
But let me back up a step: This ride also marked my first mountain bike experience since my injury last September. Hooray!!
As I got ready to ride, I realized how much I had missed everything to do with mountain biking. All those little rituals…putting water in your hydration pack; listening to music in your car while you put your shoes on at the trailhead; clipping in and feeling the dirt roll under your wheels. Awesome.
I parked at the trailhead at Marshall Road and U.S. 93. Both parking lots were jam-packed with cars. It was a bit of a buzz-kill, but I had kind of expected it. It’s a nice Saturday in February, after all. People are sick of the gym.
From the trailhead, I headed south on the Coal Seam trail. It was full of dogs and hikers as well as a few other mountain bikers, but everyone was playing nice together. My plan was to cross 93 and head down Community Ditch to the new Spring Brook Trails. I survived the Frogger game across 93 and cruised along the CD Trail to Doudy Draw. I hadn’t been down that way in a very long time, so I was surprised to see the fancy bridge that crosses the ditch and its little spillway.
From there it’s a short cruise up the Spring Brook Trails. There’s a North and a South, although basically they just create a loop.
Out here, there were lots fewer hikers (although two joggers went by, yelling at each other in what sounded strangely like a business meeting). There were a handful of riders, though, many of whom were also riding this for the first time.
I chose to ride the North side first, and had it almost entirely to myself. The singletrack was smooth and narrow as it rose up onto a little mesa, where the wide-open sky topped a distant view of town.
Two dudes I don’t know. But they’re having fun, I think.
Then it veered into the forest and became rockier. Back there, I felt totally secluded and separated from civilization — a feeling I love having on any trail, but its an especially cool trick for a trail that’s so close to the bustle of Boulder.
Farther west, the trail meets up with the South Loop, as well as a little spur that takes you up an embankment and onto a dirt road. From there, a little bridge lets hikers go into a Habitat Conservation Area (no bikes or dogs). According to the map, turning right on the road will lead to some sort of dead end, which might be a rad overlook or something.
I was more interested in consuming the singletrack I’ve been deprived of for so long, so I opted instead for the South Loop. It’s more of the same – nice cruisey trail that eventually puts you back to Doudy Draw. I was barely feeling satisfied at this point, so I turned right there and climbed the only substantial hill in the area. It’s actually steep enough for a decent switchback.
Shooting from the hip doesn’t work as well with a point-and-shoot camera.
At the top of that, you get on the Flatiron Vista Trails, which also have North and South loops. They are mellow, johnny.
Even pro downhiller Neven Steinmetz rides a flat trail now and then.
These trails are flatter than the Spring Brook ones, but they’re nice enough, and they serve the all-important function of connecting back to 93 and the trails east of the highway — the High Plains Trail, etc. There’s a good map of all this here.
As I came out of the sparse area of trees and could see out that way for miles, I realized that this area has actually become pretty decent for riding. Now don’t get me wrong – these aren’t the raddest trails ever built, but there’s a solid amount of singletrack to be had now. And since there’s great connectivity among them, you could do a great 2 hour “base miles” kind of ride down there. You could even add on the South Boulder Creek trail. Or start your ride anywhere that could grab onto those bike paths, and be out for hours.
I would have looped back to enjoy the downhill switchback on Doudy Draw, but cold weather was coming in, and I was starving. So I crossed 93, rode up the Greenbelt Plateau (a boring dirt road, so watch for the singletrack off to the side), down to Coal Seam, and back to my car. I finished off with the ritual of wrestling off my chamois in the bucket seat of the Rally Wagon. Nice.
All in all, it was a great afternoon. I feel like a new person now that I have mountain biking back in my life. I guess I can put away all those Tony Robbins tapes now.