“An advanced Intermediate loop from Monument Preserve through Limbaugh Canyon.”
— J Erik Hartel
One of the region's under-utilized trails, the Mount Herman-Limbaugh Canyon Loop takes you from Monument Preserve up Mount Herman Road
to a little used trail (715) behind Mount Herman and Raspberry Mountain. The route starts with a dirt road climb for approximately 4 miles to the start of the singletrack.
The singletrack section is fairly challenging, except in Limbaugh Canyon itself. The initial climb from Mount Herman Rd is steep and covered with loose gravel - for most people this becomes a short hike-a-bike section. Once over the initial climb, the trail descends along a narrow, moderately technical track until it empties out in Limbaugh Canyon.
The canyon stretch is a great, flowing trail with a few surprises. As the canyon narrows towards its northern terminus, the trail becomes somewhat more technical. Although this central stretch is fairly unchallenging, the trail does throw up some sudden technical sections that warrant a bit of care.
Eventually, the trail dumps out above Monument Preserve, where you can catch Mount Herman Road
back to the trailhead.
Need to Know
The only notable navigational challenge comes at the one o'clock point, where the actual trail forks off to the right onto a seemingly minor branch. The larger trail (a former mining road) eventually dead ends in private property. The branch is actually the main route and marks the start of a challenging, rocky stretch of lightly used singletrack.
Park at the Nursery Road Trailhead, at the intersection of Nursery and Mount Herman roads. This is a good, safe, well-trafficked parking area frequented by MTB'ers and trail runners.
From Nursery Road Trailhead take the Meadow Trail
to Monument Rock then take the Mt Herman Road trail from Monument Rock to Mt Herman Road. Easy singletrack warm up.
An Alternate route is Mt Hermann road from the Nursery Road Trailhead, however this portion of the road is severly washboarded and is best avoided using the route described above.
At the top of the Mt Herman Road trail, turn left on to Mount Herman Road
, which is dirt from this point onwards. For the next two miles, follow the road south and around the southern shoulder of Mount Herman. Look for a well-marked trailhead for Tr. 715. It is located approximately .10 miles after the Trail 716 trailhead. Do not confuse the two.
At the 715 trailhead, which is located at a sharp turn on the road and is marked by a metal sign and several metal posts, you'll observed the singletrack (715) heading directly north. After a short distance, the trail bears westward up a steep gravelly incline that bears the footprints of many mountain bikers before you. Do not be ashamed to hike the next 100 feet or so since the trail is very challenging for all but the most sure-footed riders.
For the next mile, stay on the gravel trail. A number of trails crisscross the route - stay on the main one until you drop down into Limbaugh Canyon. The dropt into Limgaugh Canyon is marked by a brown Carsonite marker. After an initial scramble down an eroded gravel slope, the trail becomes more rideable, eventually turning into a challengingly narrow traverse through aspens that winds down into the valley. Your inclination may be to let the bike run fast at this point, but be aware that the trail has several unexpected turns. Eventually, the trail exits into a wide canyon and becomes more flowing.
For the next few miles, the trail cruises through meadows, following a small stream. Depending on the time of year, the stream may not have water. As the canyon narrows, the trail moves up the right side of the canyon and once again becomes intermediate. There are several unexpected rock gardens and technical sections along this portion.
At approximately the 8 mile point, as the trail begins to pivot around the north shoulder of the Raspberry Mountain, it widens into an old rocky mining grade and begins to drop more steeply towards town. After approximately .25 miles look for a small sign and a narrow, steep branch to the right. Although significantly less prominent than the mining grade, the branch is actually the main MTB route to get back to Monument Preserve. If you miss this turn, the road will eventually peter out in private property and require a lengthy schlepp back up the hill.
The next segment is a challenging 2 mile traverse of the northeast and east faces of Raspberry Mountain and Mount Herman. The trail is narrow, fairly new, and somewhat rocky. All told, it can be a significantly aerobic grind. Although there are several branches that turn downwards, stick to the main trail; any attempt to go downhill at this point will end in private property or dump you out in neighboring Palmer Lake. Just stay high on the slope until you pass around a red sandstone monument, which marks the last half-mile or so of the trail.
Cruise back to your car on Mount Herman Rd or along any of the fun downhill singletracks (Mad Hatter
, Twisty Oaks, Monument Rock to Mt. Herman Rd
, etc) that parallel the dirt road.