This loop starts at the Mount Herman trailhead at the corner of Nursery & Mount Herman Road
. This singletrack route can be ridden in both directions depending on mood. Overall the ride travels through approximately 5 miles of scrub oak with wonderful views up at Mount Herman.
Start at the Mount Herman Trailhead, leaving from the northwest corner on Mad Hatter
. When ridden in a counter-clockwise direction, Mad Hatter
is a great easy uphill that twists itself unchallengingly from the TH to the access road to the Pikes Peak National Forest fire center.
At the access road, follow the dirt road north for 200ft before crossing over Mount Herman Rd to connect to Twisty Oaks Trail, which lies on the far side of a small pullout/parking area on the north side of Mount Herman Road
approximate 25m west of the junction of the Fire Center access Rd and Mount Herman (MH) Road.
As described elsewhere, when ridden CCW/up, Twisty Oaks is a fun lightly aerobic climb through a jungle of scrub oak. The trail twists and turns crazily as it snakes its way westward - when ridden down, the trail is a bike-handling challenge, requiring supremely good bike handling skills and balance to negotiate the turns at high speed.
Twisty Oaks eventually pops out on Red Rocks Rd. Turn left (south) on RR Rd until it intersects with MH Rd approximately .25 miles later. Immediately before the intersection is a short connector trail on the right that cuts off a bit of the road. If you miss the connector - no big deal. Just turn right on MH Rd and follow it until you see a line of rocks on the left shoulder. This marks the turn-off to the nexus of several trails - including Monument Rock to Mt. Herman Rd
, the "7400 Contour" Trail, and at least two others.
The "7400 Contour" Trail is located on the right as you descend into a cluster of scrub oak. The route swings south just below Mt. Herman Rd and continues along a rock-strewn singletrack trail that bounces through multiple rock gardens for the next mile or so. Although it lacks any significant climbs, this trail undulates across the lower slope of Mount Herman, diping in and out of downslope drainage from the road and mountain above. The only potentially confusing turn occurs near the end when the main trail turns hard right, inadvertently directing the rider onto a particularly sinuous branch of challenging rocky singletrack. Stick to the right along the milder piece of trail.
A short 150m later, the route runs into a triangular trail intersection. Take the left branch and cruise down the 715 Trail. This trail is an intermediate trail because of the period drop-offs and unexpected rock obstacles that threaten to unseat inexperienced riders carrying too much steam into the blind corners. In the opposite direction, it's a moderate climb that can be an aerobic challenge when ridden hard.
After .7 miles, 715 Trail merges with the unpaved Schilling Road for approximately 100m. Look for a singletrack spur that branches off from the left and connects to the "Schilling Road Trail." Also a luscious piece of singletrack, this trail careens through several easy obstacles and water-bars, eventually ending at the Mount Herman trailhead.