Keystone Bike Guide: Keystone Aqueduct to Soda Creek Trail (video)
Distance: 5.5 miles
Time: 1-2 hours
Elevation: 9,142-9,470 feet (328 vertical feet)
Season: June to late September
Extensions: Hay Trail, Red Trail, Keystone Gulch Road
Parking: Dirt lots at Keystone Ranch on
Keystone Ranch Road
Mountain biking in Summit County is more than flumes, pine forests and mine tailings. When you get away from the Breckenridge area — home to the county’s most popular trails — things open up to reveal rolling meadows and faded ranch buildings. It’s the other side of life in the Rocky Mountains: Alpine ranching, the High Country’s last, great industry before the rise of ski tourism.
On the west side of Keystone Resort is a system of trails that weaves past the fairways of Keystone golf club and south into Horseshoe Gulch. The system eventually connects with the wooded routes many mountain bikers know and love — Blair Witch, Gold Run Road, the Colorado Trail — but for a few short-and-sweet miles, it’s a taste of riding not often found in these parts (unless you want to pedal high above tree line, that is).
All of this makes race No. 5 of the Summit Mountain Challenge series, the Soda Creek Scramble, a welcome change of pace late in the season. The race begins at the Keystone Stables before connecting with two of the area’s finest rides: Keystone Aqueduct and Soda Creek and Ridge.
Pedal uphill on Keystone Ranch Road for about 0.3 miles and turn left onto Aqueduct Trail at an obvious (yet unmarked) trailhead at the crest of the hill. Aqueduct follows Keystone Ranch Road south on the hillside through luxurious neighborhoods, with wildflower meadows to your left and the Keystone Ranch Course fairways to your right. The trail is mellow singletrack with occasional wooden bridges leading over the namesake aqueduct.
After about 2 miles — right after a surprisingly steep and sometimes slippery descent — the Aqueduct Trail ends at a three-way junction: Soda Creek Trail to the southwest, and Hay Trail and Red Trail to the southeast. There’s also a dirt road connecting the golf course with a smattering of refurbished ranch buildings on the shore of a small beaver pond. If you’re riding with the family, turn north onto the road for a mellow return to your car on a mix of dirt road and pavement.
Soda Creek Trail and Hay Trail eventually reconnect via Horseshoe Gulch. Both are relatively flat and forgiving, with only brief climbs and moderate technical sections. Red Trail is steeper and leads to the Colorado Trail at the junction with Horseshoe Gulch.
You can go both ways on this trail and terrain. It’s a really fun trail system. You have pretty mellow climbs, really fun descents and really flowy singletrack deep into the forest with rivers and nature abound. There’s nothing too technical here. There’s this one descent where you are between these two trees, there is a left turn and going through the turn at the right time of year there are beautiful blue, yellow and pinkish wildflowers to wow you.
— Lasse Konecny
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