Riflesight Trail offers rare easy high-elevation ride
Mountain Biking with Keith
I have written about what is happening and changes that may come on our trail system. Sometimes we overlook some of the great rides that have been around for years.
Wednesday I did a ride with some friends that few people ever do. This is the Riflesight Trail off of the Corona Pass road not far from the old train Trestle.
What makes this ride unique is that it is a very easy ride that is also high in elevation. Most often high elevation rides are very difficult to ride or even access, which eliminates lesser skilled riders from one of the best experiences in mountain biking or just being out on the trails. This is one of the few rides where I recommend car shuttling for the entry level rider due to distance from town and quality of experience.
The Riflesight trail follows the old railroad grade, which is very gentle. While the trail is wide it rides like a singletrack as one defined line snakes its way through the rocks that have rolled onto the trail over the years.
The views are spectacular. Immediately below you is the headwaters of the main fork of Ranch Creek lush with thick forest and spring-fed meadows. In the near distance Mount Epworth looks down upon the valley while the Indian Peaks Wilderness area makes up the Continental Divide to Devil’s Thumb Park and beyond. Remnants of train wreckage can still be seen as you cross through a cliff area that makes you wonder just how the route was built more than 100 years ago.
Two old trestles have survived the elements and do require a bit of concentration as you cross them (cross at your own risk, you can turn around here if you like). Your final destination leaves you below the main train trestle in Grand County as it towers a few hundred feet above.
You can ride this as an out and back. Total mileage is about 4 miles ( 2 miles each way). To reach the beginning of the trail ride or drive up Corona Pass. Continue on Corona Pass past the intersection with Forest Road 128. The grade is fairly gentle until you reach a sharp left where the grade increases enough to notice. About 1-1.5 miles up this grade the road will turn to the right. You will see a gate and road on the left, continue past this. About one-quarter mile or so past the first gate you will see another gate and road on your left (basically at the corner where the Corona Pass road makes a hard right). This is the Riflesight Trail. Park at the gate to begin your ride. You can look at a map on the Winter Park Chamber’s website http://www.mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Although this can be driven in a car, I recommend a higher clearance vehicle as the road can be a bit rough in places .
Don’t forget to look and comment on the Master Trails Plan. The Master Trails Plan can be found on the Headwaters Trails Alliance website http://www.headwaterstrails.org. – public comments are being taken through Aug. 7. (Scroll down the home page for the link to the Master Trails Plan) The Master Trails Plan will be the foundation of the future of the trail system.
Beavers Sports Shop next the Best Western Hotel does a group ride Friday at 6 p.m. This ride is for the intermediate and above rider. We will explore the local trail system as a group. For more info call the shop at 726-5988.
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 him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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