Exploring the ‘new’ Middle Trail
July 20, 2017
New trails are so exciting to explore because you never know what's around each bend. Your biking reactions are tested to see how fast you can downshift because you need to climb hard. Your balance is tested because the trail suddenly narrows and the ground drops away sharply on your left side or the right side. Watch out for that rock. Concentrate.
Granby Ranch has been adding new trails to both of its east and west mountains and has a good variety of both downhill and cross-country terrain. I'm not much of a mountain bike "downhiller," who goes up by the lift and comes downhill rapidly — known as downhill or lift-served mountain biking. The pads drive me nuts. And so does the road rash. But I love to climb which is a big part of cross-country mountain biking. I also love the technical part of a single-track trail that winds through the trees and goes both up and down.
Too many rocks make my arms sore so I go for the smoother surface at least some of the time. I'm not much for jumps and added obstacles, but like to see the natural terrain put to good use. And I'm not afraid to get off and walk.
Charlie and I found a trail last weekend that combined so many different attributes that I was swearing at it yet later falling in love with it. A friend called it Lone Eagle Trail and parts of it seem a recent enhancement on the west mountain.
On maps it is referred to as the Middle Trail and the Upper Trail to West Peak of Sol Vista. Parts of it seem to have been there for years and other parts seem freshly dug with soft shoulders. Creating it was a lot of work. And riding it is a lot of work. You might want to hike it first to see what you are in for.
Park at the parking lot at the top of the ridge as you drive Village Road into Granby Ranch. This is the same parking lot used to access the Fraser-to-Granby Trail or the ridge-top kiosk for great views of the whole Granby area.
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Head up the old roadbed following signs to the Fraser-to-Granby Trail. Directly opposite where the Fraser-to-Granby Trail leaves the roadbed is the start of the Upper Trail to West Peak. The trail cuts back and forth across an old roadbed so you can bail if you get tired of the in and out – again, some parts seem recently cut and some has been there for quite a while. It's a good blend of the old and new, dirt surface and rocks, sharp turns great traverses and up and down. The terrain is used to the maximum to wind back and forth with long switchbacks and sharp turns. But the trail is not signed well so put on your explorer cap.
The views are incredible of the Tri-Lakes region up to Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park. Then you follow the mountain around to views of Granby and Ten Mile Estates as you circle the backside of the West Peak. It's hard to choose whether to watch the view or the trail.
After you start back down across the ridge, the Upper Trail joins back into the Middle Trail making a loop back to the parking lot. The Fraser-to-Granby follows much of the Middle Trail but the other direction connects down to the Val Moritz subdivision at Zermatt Street. It sounds confusing but it is just a loop with an access at each end. The climbing is a bit insane so, again, you might want to hike it first unless you are an expert rider with good low gears and great balance. Most of us will just enjoy a great hike.
Great flowers, great views, good ups and downs and twists and turns. Great either for hiking or the advanced cross country mountain biker. The trails to the West Peak are no piece of cake but great trails to add to your list. Kudos to Granby Ranch.