The West Magnolia trail system has always had a bit of a cult following. It's an area that is generally praised by those who know it well, and either hated or completely avoided by those who don't. The main reason for this is that it's a maze of short trails that dump out onto dirt roads or into campgrounds, they can flow well when pieced together correctly, but they can also leave even the most confident navigator completely turned around and frustrated. Trail signs were added in fall of 2020, they will certainly help with navigation woes.
An important though unpleasant development for this area has been a major deforestation project that was completed in 2012. The forest service clearcut a large part of the area to remove dead trees killed by the pine beetle infestation that's plagued much of Colorado.
One of the things that's always made West Mag unique is that it was mostly in deep forest. Though some trails haven't changed, several old favorites are drastically different. Shade and a cool tacky trail surface are now traded for hot sun and dry, dusty trail. But the views are spectacular in places that used to be closed in.
Note: There are a bunch of designated first-come, first-served campsites all around this area, along Hwy 132 east of the trailhead.
***Disclaimer: the classic route was created in 2012, there have been substantial reroutes to many of the trails in this ride. This is an update to better incorporate these changes and new trails. The general consensus is that it flows better in the counter-clockwise direction, but is certainly rideable either way (just don't go up the Aspen Alley Trail jump line!)!
Unlike many classic Front Range rides, this one doesn't start with a big climb and end with a downhill. This route undulates (and upulates) through pines and aspens and sometimes clear cut meadows with awesome views of the Indian Peaks.
Start at the main trailhead, one mile down Haul Rd off the Peak to Peak highway. You'll begin at the Observatory Trail, which starts with a tiny hill, then mellows out. This trail crosses Haul Road again, keep going straight. Observatory winds around the clear cut hillside then intersects with Lookout trail. Take a left and climb up the hillside again. There's some steep sections but once you get to the top, the fun begins!
You'll descend a couple hundred feet, then take the right onto the Hobbit
trail, where you'll be for the next 3.75 miles. You'll start in an aspen grove and then pop out in a meadow. About half a mile in, you'll get back in the trees. Look for an optional rock slab line to your left - you'll pass the exit first, climb a short hill, then the entrance will be at the top. If this looks inviting, ride the slab then circle back around back to the top.
now climbs through the forest for another .25 miles then undulates before a fun, flowy downhill to the intersection with Hobbit
3 and Hobbit
3.5 (yes, we know this is confusing). This intersection isn't well marked as of summer 2021, you'll want to go straight to stay on Hobbit
. The flowy fun continues for another mile, go past the intersection with Schoolbus by staying left, then cross the road to stay on Hobbit
. A couple more bumps and hucks and then you'll find yourself at one of the more challenging climbs of the day. While not very long at less that a quarter mile, it is steep and tops out with a little rock garden.
Continue weaving through trees until you hit a small steep downhill. Take the fork to the left for a ride around the downhill optimized alt line and then you'll come back to the main trail. There's a couple more tricky uphill rock moves until you top out and get to more down. You'll cross a road again and now you know the drill: climb up a hill and go down into a clear cut meadow. This part of the trail seems to weave needlessly between stumps, the 2012 fuel mitigation changed this section forever. But where trees once were, now there are patches of wildflowers and 360 views. Check the tree line for moose, this is a common area for them to hang out.
After the meadow, you'll go back into the forest and come to another intersection - left to return to the parking lot and right to continue on Re-Root. Keep right and get ready for some fun. Re-Root has 4 optional alt lines of black and double-black skill levels. Keep an eye out, finding them is half the fun!
Re-Root crosses Haul Road, then continues on to the left. You'll climb around a group of houses, PLEASE STAY ON THE TRAIL! Cross the driveway to stay on Re-Root, next up is the intersection with Aspen Alley. Hang left to continue uphill. A bit more winding through trees, then another meadow with great views. The bottom part of this trail is a flowy, bermy, pumptrack jump line definitely best ridden downhill!
Your next intersection is a a four-way with Handshake
. If you want to try Aspen Alley again, take a right, then another right on SuperVü
. If you are ready to go back to your car, take a left. And if you want more adventure into the twisty world of West Mag - continue straight on Aspen Alley.
We hope you enjoyed this tour of West Mag. With lots of trails and loop options, there are endless ride combinations. You can't go too wrong, just don't climb the Aspen Alley jump line!