“The perfect downhill alternative to the traditional Waterton Canyon dirt road climb.
— Chuck McQuade
This ride uses the Indian Creek Trailhead and the east leg of the Indian Creek Loop ride as a much better alternative to the Waterton Canyon part (dirt road) of Segment 1 of The Colorado Trail (COT).
The east leg covers 10 fast mostly downhill miles with only a small section of dirt road before joining the Colorado Trail at Lenny's Rest. By using this alternative, you'll have a huge smile on your face knowing that you just skipped 7 miles of dirt road up Waterton Canyon. The remaining 10 miles along the COT includes a few tough climbs, a couple of advanced rock gardens, however it's well worth the effort for the final 2 miles of classic downhill!
Need to Know
**This route is described as a one way ride using a two car shuttle** - leave a car at the Indian Creek Trailhead, then a second on the Platte River Rd. There is a large dirt parking lot at the terminus of COT segment 1 and the start of segment 2. There is a large Iron bridge at the parking lot used for bikers and hikers to cross the South Platte. The car shuttle is 10 miles long, taking about 20 minutes each way. From the Indian Creek Trailhead head west on HW 67 til a fork in the road, take a right at the fork onto W Pine Creek Road (dirt). After a few miles you'll take a right onto Platte River Road. Continue north until you see a large dirt parking lot, pit toilet and the iron bridge.
Parking is available at the Indian Creek Trailhead, though it gets full most every weekend. There is overflow parking at Rampart "Upper" Lot 1/4 mile from Indian Creek Trailhead.
**Fee for parking at the Indian Creek Trialhead is $4.00 per day per vehicle**
The singletrack starts at the NW corner of the Indian Creek Trailhead parking lot, just behind the pit toilet. Look for and follow trail signs reading trail #800 (east leg). Start with a short 1-mile climb to an intersection of a dirt road and the Ringtail Trail
Congratulations you have just reached the loop's high point. The next 8 miles are all downhill from here. Continue north along the dirt road marked with the #800 trail sign for 3 fast miles. Once you reach a large power line tower, look for the singletrack to start back up to the east. An awesome mile long section of downhill now awaits.
Next you'll reach a crossing trail - turn left or north to continue along trail #800. The next section is made up of a wide singletrack with countless what appears to be man-made jumps. FUN. After reaching a meadow, the trail bends to the west with some more amazing downhill and several big rock and root drops. Continue along the trail #800 passing a trail that turns to the right which heads to the dirt road of Waterton Canyon.
After a few creek crossings and the loop's first steep and challenging climb, you'll reach a "Y" junction. Continue north leaving the Indian Creek Loop. After a short distance you'll meet up with segment 1 of the COT at Lenny's Rest bench. From here, continue west along the COT crossing Bear Creek and the ride's low point.
Now climb for the next 3 miles and 1500 feet of vertical, crossing a few more small creeks while winding your way up along dense forest and wonderful singletrack. This section includes a few rock gardens, one which most riders will likely walk. After the long grind, catch your breath and enjoy a 3.5 miles 1500 foot screaming, smooth downhill, ending at the south fork of the South Platte River.
See Segment 2 --- Colorado Trail: South Platte Canyon to Little Scraggy TH.