Summit County bike guide 2019: Bill’s Ranch Trail
Bill’s Ranch Trail
Distance: 1.3 miles one-way
Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Elevation: 9,040-9,850 feet (810 vertical feet)
Type: Out and back, singletrack and doubletrack
Season Late May to late October
Expansions: Miner’s Creek Road, South Rainbow Trail, Peaks Trail
There’s a reason you won’t encounter many mountain bikers on the rough and rocky Bill’s Ranch Trail.
Found just south of downtown Frisco, the trail is one of several singletrack connectors in the lush, aspen-filled forests around Rainbow Lake. These spiderwebbed routes are popular with hikers and mountain bikers, especially the flowy-yet-technical lower section of Peaks Trail, but few are as technically demanding as Bill’s Ranch.
The trail is littered with large boulders and slippery roots on grades varying from steep to utterly demanding.
It’s only 1.3 miles one way, but the uphill climb from Frisco is only for veteran riders (newcomers will spend most of the time hiking). The trail is more suited for solo hikers and trail runners, thanks in large part to that daunting initial grind from Frisco. But, if you connect with Bill’s Ranch from lower Peaks or South Rainbow Trail — two short and sweet rides found off Miner’s Creek Road — the descent is an absolute blast. Just be sure to bring your full-suspension rig — it’s a wild and bumpy ride.
The best and easiest way to ride Bill’s Ranch Trail starts at the Peaks Trail or South Rainbow Trail junction with Miner’s Creek Road. From the junction with Peaks Trail, ride roughly 0.25 miles to Rainbow Lake. Pass the lake and ride a few hundred yards downhill on steep, rocky turns to the junction with Bill’s Ranch Trail. The trail heads downhill into Frisco on the right-hand side and uphill deeper into the woods on the left-hand side.
Head uphill on a steep, double-track climb for about 0.25 miles to a junction with South Rainbow Trail. Follow the sign to Bill’s Trail as it bears left and heads uphill for another 0.5 miles of rocky, rooty climbing. The double-track slowly narrows before looping back on itself for a well-earned 1.3 miles of pure descent.
From Interstate 70, drive through Frisco on Highway 9. Just south of town, turn right at the stoplight onto Peak One Boulevard (County Road 1004). After a few hundred feet, take the first right at the Miner’s Creek Road/Bill’s Ranch sign. Take an immediate left and drive up a narrow paved road a short distance. This paved section is open to bikes and other rec users. Use caution. Park at the trailhead and pedal up the paved path about 0.25 miles to the intersection with the Summit County recpath.
For a strenuous uphill climb, turn right and follow the path for 0.25 miles to the Bill’s Ranch trailhead on the left-hand side. For a mellow climb, follow Miner’s Creek Road to the lower Peaks Trail or South Rainbow Trail connector.
Take these rides 0.75 miles to a junction at the middle of Bill’s Ranch Trail, found a few hundred yards from Rainbow Lake. From here, pedal uphill on Bill’s Ranch for a short, rocky climb, or follow it downhill for a bumpy descent to the recpath.
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