Grand County: Explore 600 miles of mountain bike trails
Sky-Hi Daily News
If you want to know all there is about the local mountain biking scene in Grand County, one way to start is to follow your nose to the aroma of coffee.
Totally Wired Cyclery in Fraser, The Village Hub cyclery in Grand Lake and Big Shooter Coffee in Kremmling are noted mountain biking hubs, where shots of espresso flow as freely as news about the latest wipe-out, revived trail or technical marvel.
Mountain biking is a grand subject in the county with ever-expanding trails and a reputation of becoming one the premier mountain-biking Meccas in the states.
Each spring, a cross-country, snowboard and downhill-ski culture shifts gears to become a community on the quest for bone-shaking rides.
And Grand County is flush with a subpopulation of riders who devote year-round energy bettering the experience for others, building and planning new trails, working out deals with public landowners to do so, and keeping established trails maintained.
“Winter Park has some of the best tracks I’ve ever ridden in my life, up there with Crested Butte,” said avid rider Tim Markel.
Few can disagree, with an estimated 600 miles of single-track, double-track and jeep roads.
“There’s endless riding,” said Doug Hordon, manager of Totally Wired Cyclery.
“It’s already one of the best riding locations in the state, and money is being put into new trails at Winter Park and SolVista.”
Right out of the town of Fraser, access can be gained to the Fraser Experimental Forest with enjoyable cross-country beginner terrain, such as the Chainsaw to Creekside and Flume or Zoom loops, to intermediate terrain with sustained climbs and more technical descents, such as the Northwest Passage to Tiperary to Spruce Creek trails.
And more advanced riding with more than 2,000 vertical feet can be found at Winter Park Resort. Up the Park’s bike-carrying high-speed Zephyr Express lift to the summit, a latticework of intermediate-level-and-above rides await, such as “Mountain Goat.” For beginners, the resort offers two trails “Fantasy Meadow” and “Lower Roof of the Rockies.”
And SolVista Ski Basin to the north end of Fraser Valley is making a name for itself.
In June, the nationwide publication “Decline” magazine featured a seven-page spread on SolVista Ski Basin for its escalating mountain-bike scene.
Sweet trails can be accessed from the base of the SolVista basin just outside of Granby, or many locals reach summit from the trailhead behind Alpine Park toward the top of Red Dirt Hill. It’s in this way, SolVistas trails interconnect with the south end of the Fraser Valley. And SolVista offers an abundance of trails open earlier in the season than those located down Valley.
For a leisurely pedal, the Fraser River Trail connects Winter Park Resort to Fraser, and for a longer jaunt, a dirt trail that continues almost to Granby can be accessed near the Fraser ball fields.
Before even one pedal rotation in the area, however, adventurers should pick up these seasonal trail Bibles: The “Mountain Bike and Trail Guide, to Winter Park and the Fraser Valley” free brochure (or found at http://www.guestguidepublications.com) and the “Winter Park and Fraser Colorado Mountain Bike Map” brochure, both located at any bike shop or chamber building.
Jam-packed with safety information and trail profiles (the second offering more detailed information about parking info, trail descriptions, elevations and distances; it’s $9.95, but worth every penny) each brochure should be stuffed into everyone’s Camel Pack before heading out.
And mountain biking rental and repair shops are sprinkled throughout the Valley, from the base of Winter Park Resort to Fraser, such as Grand Sports in the town of Winter Park, Totally Wired Cyclery in Fraser, and Icebox Mountain Sports, Fraser.
Almost all mountain-biking trails in the Grand Lake area are intermediate to advanced because of a climbing start out of the valley.
Many can be reached off of the Arapaho National Recreation Area North Supply and South Supply trailheads, where single track and double track trails are plentiful, and some provide bird’s eye views of Grand County’s “Great Lakes” area.
Trails listed among local favorites are Gilostine, Illinois Pass, North Supply Creek and Wolverine, all which can be studied on the necessary Headwaters Trails Alliance “Grand County Trail Map,” offered free and found at mountain biking outlets Village Hub Cyclery and Rocky-Hi Speedway go-carts and bicycles, as well as at the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center.
Riders primarily can reach trails by taking County Road 4 off of Highway 34 to the Idleglen National Forest Service boundary, or by way of County Road 491 to the Supply Creek/Stillwater access, which is a National Park Service Boundary to National Forest Service Boundary.
And in-the-works are plans for added public trails on Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District property to provide more beginner/all-ages trails in the area, as well as an adventurous access to intermediate and advanced terrain.
For those exploring trails in the Grand Lake area, mountain bike rentals are available at Rocky High Speedway go-carts and bicycles near the entrance to town.
And custom sales and services-by-appointment are available at Village Hub Cyclery.
The Village Hub also offers guided group mountain bike rides twice a week. Find out the schedule by calling 627-5095.
Shawn Scholl, owner of Big Shooter Coffee, says Grand County’s biggest trails secret is Kremmling.
Just outside of town, riders discover a whole new experience just an hour’s car ride from Summit, Steamboat, Winter Park, Grand Lake.
“We got it going on down here,” he said.
Kremmling offers miles of mountain biking on public lands, and due to Kremmling’s more arid temperature and treeless terrain, it is the perfect alternative for those who want to ride earlier in the season.
“It’s like going to Fruita,” Scholl said. “It has some of the similarities to Fruita without the long drive and the crowds. I think people are discovering they don’t have to drive so far.”
And what’s there? “There’s endless trails, you can go forever. Big loops, small loops, single tracks, climbs, moderate terrain to more advanced terrain,” Scholl said.
And, mountain biking in Kremmling is far from lacking in wicked views, with Gore Range and Gore Canyon to the south and the Continental Divide to the east.
To get there, park in Kremmling and ride about a mile north out of Kremmling on County Road 22, off of which most of the trails can be accessed.
Maps are available at the Bureau of Land Management office in Kremmling.
Small to pro riders can look forward to a new free and public dirt park near the Fraser softball fields, expected this summer.
The park will welcome BMX and mountain bike enthusiasts to dirt’s version of a skateboard park. The Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District board of directors approved the project last fall, presented by and to be built in conjunction with Totally Wired Cyclery folks and other local volunteers.
Also, the Huck Forest Bike Camps outside of Tabernash is a place for those “who want to learn how to leave the ground,” according to site patron Andy Miller whose son Forest, an expert competitive rider, manages the camps.
Mountain cross, ladder trails, downhill and gap-jump training can be gleaned from three weekends July 18th-20th and 25th-27th and Aug. 8th-10th. The camp invites all levels, from beginner to race circuit, to hone skills deep in the backcountry near Arapaho National Forest lands, complete with campfire nights and accommodations in a solar-powered cabin. Adults can obtain a similar experience with a custom-made trip.
Check out http://www.lonesome-hut.com/youthbike.htm for more information.
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