This ride introduces the willing intermediate to exceptionally well designed trails that are aesthetically pleasing and help to build skills. In about 4 hrs you can see a good sample of the famed Telegraph
Trail System and get a good workout.
Take plenty of water, sun protection, and tools/spares.
The namesake Sale Barn
is long gone but the trailhead features a signboard and trail system map. After a steep rise from the parking area, Sale Barn
settles into a pattern of gently curving runs up the narrow valley punctuated by switchbacks that will provide a good workout and test of skills.
The mesa top is achieved and here the rider finds gently curving singletrack that seems designed for mountain biking... because it is. The trail drops back down into the canyon in some steep turns then crosses the arroyo at about 1.2 miles and rises onto the west mesa.
Passing the junction with Cowboy
Trail, you now head out onto the first portion of South Rim Trail
. This is great cruising with minimal rocks. As the trail contours along the mesa edge, the proximity to the busy 550 corridor is apparent.
The trail descends into Big Canyon
, which provides a shorter variant of this ride or a convenient bailout point if you've had enough. Rising out of Big Canyon
is a series of very tight and fairly loose switchbacks that may require a bit of walking for the intermediate.
The next section is the west portion of South Rim Trail
, featuring more cuising and views. The trail continues across another canyon and up onto the mesa. Here the trail splits, with the north branch heading up into the Telegraph
The south split contours around an open field, then begins a precipitous drop to Carbon Junction. Things get steep in a hurry: despite the views look ahead for abrupt and loose switchbacks. Missing the final switchback before the parking area would result in a steep drop onto the highway.
This was my introduction to Durango intermediate: a fine trail that mixes pleasurable cruising with technical challenges to build skill.