Smile inducing trails at Idlewild | SkyHiNews.com

Smile inducing trails at Idlewild

Keith Sanders
Mountain Biking with Keith

Craig Kobe rides the trails near Winter Park.

The Olympics inspire us. I recall during the height of my competition days in skiing and cycling of dreaming of being in the Olympics. The only thing that kept me from being an Olympian was the fact that there were always better than me. Regardless of our skills or in many cases lack of, we all are masters our own Olympics. Life can toss many challenges in our way trying to interrupt the precious time we have to get out and ride our bike and escape the troubles of our personal worlds. Maybe it's the juggling of the kids schedules or escaping all the "joy" at your family reunion that creates your own personal Olympics of finding time to get on your bike.

The last few years of trail development have been indirectly targeting those who are long on desire to ride but short on time. If that's you then I have a great option for you.

You don't have to factor in getting to the trail head because you can ride from wherever you are in Winter Park. Of course if you are not familiar with the trails a bit of help goes a long way.

Trail maps

Go online at http://www.mountainbikecapitalusa.com and look at the interactive map created through a partnership of Headwater Trails Alliance and the Winter Park Chamber (there are some great route suggestions too).

Or go to your local bike shop and pick up the free map produced by the WP Chamber. I'm going to give you a suggestion for an easy access ride close to town. This is a ride that will work well on days of threatening weather as you can cut it short if necessary.

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Ride Idlewild

On the east side of the Town of Winter Park is one of my favorite areas to ride, the trail subsystem known as Idlewild. This has some the best smile inducing trails you'll ever ride.

Start out at Hideway Park in downtown Winter Park (home of some great music this weekend!). Ride around the backside of the park and hop on the Meadow Trail. Enjoy your first single track as you start your climb through the Rendezvous neighborhood. Just after crossing Friendship Drive the second time (great place to start with the kids) you enter the Idlewild trail system. When you reach the top of the Meadow Trail turn left on Crosstrails and it will merge into the Homestead trail.

Aspens frame the trail on your left. Look for the Ditch trail on your right. This easy trail follows an old ranching irrigation ditch and is a favorite hangout of moose. At your next intersection turn right on South Fork then left on Winter Woods then right at the Y. You climb just enough to notice but not so much regret following my suggestions….

This will bring you back to Crosstrails where you will turn left. This is your hardest climb of the day as you work your way up the singletrack. When you reach the top stay left (this is a new connector trail built by the Town of Winter Park last year). The road you seen in front of you is part of the Rollins Pass road (you don't quite go to the road). After a couple of punchy short climbs you begin rolling downhill and meet up with the Arrow Trail. Turn left on Arrow (and take your next left as well) and begin one of those smile inducing descents as the singletrack flows through the trees with just enough challenges to keep you on your toes. Arrow is one of my favorite trails as you seem to float through the forest as you enjoy the reward after climbing to the top of Crosstrails. Stay right at the next intersection, then right again over the bridge. You are now at the top of the South Fork Loop and bottom of the Twisted Ankle trail. Head down the South Fork trail and enjoy one of those rolling descents that make this a local favorite.

Do be aware that there is a large tree down about 1/4 mile from the top of the trail. Near the bottom of the trail your technical skills may be tested as you ride through a root filled section of the trail. Take your next left over the two bridges and continue up the South Fork trail. Ride the South Fork Trail until it meets with Crosstrails. Turn right on Crosstrails and it will take you back to the Meadow Trail where your adventure began.

Weekly ride

Beavers Sports Shop offers a weekly group mountain bike ride every Friday at 6 p.m. from Beavers Sports Shop at the Best Western Hotel in downtown Winter Park. The ride is open to anyone of intermediate ability and above. The pace and type of trails are determined by the group. Come join us! Call 970-726-5988 for more info.

Looking for more information or want to get involved as a mountain biker? Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber! Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach me at keith@winterparkskirental.com

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