Daily News staff report

Summit County Bike Trails: Colorado Trail

Following a beautiful section of the Colorado Trail, this loop explores forested hillsides and open meadows above the Swan River Valley. The West Ridge section of the Colorado Trail includes some of the area’s most popular singletrack.

Know Before You Go: This trail is quite rideable in the opposite direction and also can be split into three shorter loops by parking at the dredge boat parking lot, 2.6 miles up Tiger Road or near the old Tiger townsite, 4.8 miles up Tiger Road. Use either the North Fork Road or Horseshoe Gulch Road as connections back to your vehicle. The 6-mile loop following the Middle Fork Road and the first section of the trail is the easiest. If you use Horseshoe Gulch Road, park at the dredge boat parking lot, and follow the trail that leads to two newly constructed bridges. Turn left after the second bridge to reach Horseshoe Gulch Road. Please stay on the trail, as all surrounding land is private and you will be trespassing if you wander. The trail is maintained entirely by volunteers, who provide feedback to the Forest Service and Colorado Trail Foundation about the trail’s condition. Please ride responsibly so comments regarding cyclists are positive and the trail remains open to them. Also, anticipate other cyclists, hikers and horse riders on this popular trail. Expect to yield and use caution around blind corners, especially when descending. Expect traffic on Tiger Road. The area also offers a number of alternate trail routes.

Parking: From I-70, drive through Frisco on Highway 9 and continue south toward Breckenridge for about 4.6 more miles. Turn right onto road #950 and park at the Gold Hill Trailhead.

Description: Get on the paved recpath and ride up a short distance. Cross the highway at the traffic light onto Tiger Road (by the Breckenridge Golf Course). Follow this road as it changes to dirt up to the junction of North Fork and Middle Fork roads at 5.5 miles. Turn right onto the Middle/South Forks road. Pass some private property and at the next junction continue straight, staying on the Middle Fork Road. Climb along the left side of the drainage, passing a gate. At about 7.8 miles, look for entrances to the Colorado Trail on both sides of the road. Turn left onto the trail (the right fork climbs steeply to Georgia Pass and the main road climbs above timberline, eventually dropping into Montezuma). Ride over rolling terrain along the base of Wise Mountain. Cross the North Fork of the Swan River. Then, at roughly 10.4 miles, cross the North Fork Road (this road climbs to a high alpine valley). The trail continues on the other side. After crossing a stream and passing a road and log fence, the trail begins a long steady climb to the West Ridge section. Two trails that drop to Keystone also connect along this section. The long steady decline includes a number of switchbacks. Speed control is suggested in order to prevent trail damage near the turns. Stay left at intersections to continue on the Colorado Trail. This portion of trail includes some scenic views of the Tenmile Range as well as forested singletrack. The trail will eventually return to Highway 9 and the recpath. A number of alternate ride options are available using this trail network and other trailheads. The West Ridge also can be accessed via the Keystone Gulch Trail, another popular ride option.

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The Summit Daily Updated Aug 29, 2014 09:36PM Published Sep 4, 2014 11:22AM Copyright 2014 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.