The Red Hill trail system is super fun riding. It's all singletrack, and there's something for just about everyone here. There's a technical, challenging climb to start the ride, then a mix of easy to somewhat challenging ups and downs on mostly flowy singletrack. There are even some great views out over Carbondale to Mt. Sopris in the distance.
This route touches on most of the great singletrack in the main Red Hill trail system, and provides nice flow as ridden. However, there are many options to ride trails in a different order, or even to extend the ride out to the Elk Traverse
and Northern Trail.
The main parking lot for this trail is right on the edge of Carbondale on Highway 82. Then it's just a quick 1/3 mile climb up a smooth dirt road to the start of the singletrack. It's very easy to ride this from town, and makes a fantastic evening ride, with plenty of options to shorten or lengthen your ride.
Ride from town or drive to the large parking lot right along Highway 82 to start the ride. This parking lot serves as a commuter parking lot as well during weekdays, so be aware that it can fill up.
You'll get a short warmup climb as you head up the dirt road (Rte. 107) from the parking lot. It's about 1/3 mile up to the clearly marked trailhead with a map kiosk on the left side of the road.
You'll start out on Three Gulch Trail
, climbing steadily and at times steeply on a mix of red sandstone and red clay dirt. The trail is full of little rock moves and step-ups. It's all rideable by strong intermediates, and a nice place to work on your technical skills. But less experienced riders will find it frustrating.
Towards the top, you'll start climbing over volcanic rock, and you'll continue to be challenged. The final section of trail before it tops out is brutal - your heartrate will be high from the steepness, and you'll have to conquer a rock garden that leaves very little room for error. Only a few advanced riders will be able to clean this one from bottom to top, but many will have fun trying!
Next, you'll take a right to ride a very short section of Blue Ribbon
, then look for signs for Skeeter's Ridge Trail
to the right. After ascending Three Gulch Trail
, most riders will find this one kinder and gentler. The trail surface is generally much smoother here, although there are still a few rocks to contend with. You'll be rewarded very quickly with incredible views out over the Roaring Fork River and Carbondale, all the way out to Mt. Sopris in the distance.
There are plenty of spots to hang out and enjoy the scenery once you reach the ridge. Just remember to stay right at the first fork you come to, and just before you reach the highest point along the ridge, be looking left for a 180 degree turn to the left for Roller Coaster
If you miss Roller Coaster
and continue straight, you'll end up on Mushroom Rock Trail, which becomes unrideable. Roller Coaster
is super fun, but far too short. It's a twisty roller coaster in a bit of a mini gully, with a smooth trail surface and bermy sides. The traction is great, and it's hard to rip down this trail without hooting and hollering. If only it dropped another 1000 vertical feet...
Continue off Roller Coaster
to the marked Faerie Trail
on your left. This trail starts out with a short continuation of fun descending like Roller Coaster
, but then becomes level to slightly climbing for a bit. You won't have much trouble pedaling along over the bits of volcanic rock in the trail, as you work your way around through the woods.
After half a mile or so, the trail descends again. This section is very flowy and fun, requiring little to no brakes in most places.
About a third of the way along the trail you'll reach a marked intersection with Bogus Trail
, and you'll stay left to continue this trail. There's more descending, then a short bit of very mild climbing to the end.
You'll pop out at a kiosk with Elk Traverse
right in front of you and Bogus Trail
off to your right. Feel free to hope on Elk Traverse
for a longer ride, or take Bogus Trail
to follow this ride. This is probably the easiest of the trails here - still an intermediate trail, but just barely. It climbs a bit on a mostly smooth trail surface with a few small rocks here and there.
Use this trail to complete a loop. At the end, you can either take a left to descend Three Gulch Trail
to the trailhead, or stay straight to follow Blue Ribbon
For this ride, take Blue Ribbon
. Most riders will agree that Blue Ribbon
is a very fun way to end a ride on this trail system. It's rideable by most intermediates except for a few easily walkable sections. For more advanced riders, there are tons of small drops, rock launch ramps, and technical moves to make this a highlight of your entire ride here.
Head back down 107 to the parking lot and you're done!