Ride Report: ColoRADo Trail – Dry Fork Loop: Durango, CO

Man.  The riding in Colorado never ceases to please.  Every time I slip past the border of the Centennial State, a sense of tranquility comes over me.  Everything suddenly turns lush and the towering mountains smile.  This trip to Durango was no different.  I made the trek from Santa Fe, NM – stopping at Red Mesa and Alien Run along the way.  I’ve done some riding in Durango in the past –  the Telegraph and Horse Gulch Trails, and the Iron Horse MTB race, etc.  I wanted to touch some “new to me” dirt on this jaunt.

Colorado Trail - Durango Trailhead.

Colorado Trail – Durango Trailhead.

It was time to hit the ColoRADo Trail.  I’d previously ridden the Monarch Crest section of the CT out of Salida, which was one of the best rides of my life.  The complete Colorado Trail goes all the way from Durango to Denver (500 miles) and the Colorado Trail Race (CTR), which is high on my bikepacking bucket list, tackles it all at once.

This ride, is just a taste of the CT at the Durango terminus, yet a wonderful reminder of why I NEED to get my arse back here and do the complete CTR!   Although the lollipop described below is merely a fraction of the CT, including a couple of the nearby trails (which are just as great as the CT itself) – it is a fabulous ride that showcases what makes the CT so special.

Nice views of Junction Creek as you start up the Colorado Trail.

Nice views of Junction Creek as you start up the Colorado Trail.

Many people ride this piece of the CT as an out and back.  Simply climb until you’re toasted, and then turn around and come down.  It’s also popular to loop it with the nearby Dry Fork Trail.  I’m always looking to make loops whenever possible, so this is what I did.  You start at the CT trailhead. Climb up to Gudy’s Rest.  By this point, you’ve already climbed 1,100′.  Stop for a moment and soak in the views and marvel at how much elevation you’ve just gained in such a short time.

The view back to Durango from Gudy's Rest.

The view back to Durango from Gudy’s Rest.

The trail continues UP after Gudy's Rest.

The trail continues UP after Gudy’s Rest.

Just after Gudy’s, you reach the intersection of Hoffheins.  Take Hoffheins to Dry Fork.  This is a fast, flowy descent for the most part – a nice break from all the climbing.  Once you reach Dry Fork, turn right and start climbing again.  You meander through some beautiful terrain, including aspen groves that must be stunning in Autumn.  Eventually you reconnect with the Colorado Trail higher up.  I could tell that Dry Fork would be a super duper descent as well, and many people start from the Dry Fork parking lot and do a different variation of this ride for that reason.

A small aspen grove on the Dry Fork Trail.  I can only imagine the beauty when the colors are turning in the fall.

A small aspen grove on the Dry Fork Trail. I can only imagine the beauty when the colors are turning in the Fall.

Anyhoo, once you reach the CT, it’s time to gladly hand back all of the elevation that you worked so dearly for.   Descend the CT back down to the trailhead.  This is fantastic, rugged at times, flowy and buff at times, quintescential CT at all times.  Singletrack wizards created this magical trail.  Watch out for trail runners, hikers, and canine friends.  As you get closer to the trailhead, it gets pretty busy – at least on the Sunday A.M. that I rode it.   This is a wonderful route, and very easy to navigate for peeps that aren’t familiar with the area (aka tourons like me).  You’re gonna climb your balls off, but the rewards are bountiful.  Over 16 miles, you’ll gain 2,600′.  But remember, what goes up, must come down 🙂 — And down you come.   My 17T was too steep of a gear for this ride, but who cares.  I didn’t have a rear brake for this ride, but who cares.  It was exactly what the doctor ordered – and it moved the CTR a couple notches up my bucket list.

I love the steak sandwich at Carver!!  Washed down with a flight of tasty brew - the citroen saison and 120 shilling scotch ale were my favorites.

I love the steak sandwich at Carver!! Washed down with a flight of tasty brew – the Citroen Saison and 120 Shilling Scotch Ale were my favorites today.

I finished my ride around noon, and definitely burned a few calories doing so.  Time for grub and suds.  I’ve been craving the steak sandwich at Carver’s – so that was it.  It did not disappoint.  I washed it down with a flight.  The rest of my mini vacation to Durango consisted of hanging out with friends old and new, drinking more beer, and going to a Fly Fishing Film Festival.  And drinking more beer before heading back to Santa Fe.  Back to work.  Life is good.
 Here’s a strava link to the ride, and feel free to email me for the gpx file or anything else I can help with!!
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One Response to Ride Report: ColoRADo Trail – Dry Fork Loop: Durango, CO

  1. Yeah beer! Great to see you as always!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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