Need to Know
Please abide by any wilderness boundary or use regulations signage you may encounter. This trail, and the adjacent Buzzard Basin #1957.2B, are open to bikes by the USFS, but the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness (not open to bikes) boundary is not too far away to the west.
The trail quality is a mix of rocky roadbed and classic singletrack. The scenery and mountain ambiance are positively first-rate. Babyheads and loose rock create a physically challenging initial climb, but once the upper singletrack is gained, the riding improves, and the views of Capital Peak in the upper meadow are amazing.
Reach the northwest trailhead by driving up PC Rd., and then right on Dinkle Lake Rd. Although it means plenty of paved miles, some will ride this trail as a loop using Dinkle Lake Rd., Hay Park Trail, Capitol Creek Rd., and West Sopris Creek Rd.
A large, fenced-in lot makes parking a breeze. Cross the road and start climbing immediately, passing a trail marker and kiosk. When the trail bends right you'll get a short breather before the physically challenging section of babyheads and loose rock begins.
Climbing on the lower trail section is more a test of fitness than bike handling. A 180-degree lefthander (on the way up) marks about halfway through the challenges. Keep grinding until you hit the cattle gate (please keep the gate closed after passing through).
After the gate, the trail smoothes out and narrows to pleasant singletrack (often on old road bed), marred only by the cattle crossings where hooves have torn the earth apart. About half a mile from the gate, you'll encounter a trail intersection on the right. Bear left for Hay Park, not right toward Thomas Lakes and Mount Sopris (which are closed to bikes due to Wilderness Boundary).
Cross small streams and ride through stands of aspens and pine. The trail flattens and you'll enter the lower meadow, crossing a small wooden bridge. Punch through a final climb, go through a cattle gate, and prepare your senses for the upper meadow.
The upper meadow area offers mind-blowing views of Capitol Peak and other mountains. Soak it in as this is the highlight of the ride. Some will turn around at this point if only seeking a shorter ride.
To continue to the far southeast end of the trail, descend out of the meadow, wind along several more miles of singletrack, often steeper, often rooty and rocky. Before reaching the far southeast trailhead on Capitol Creek Rd., you'll encounter a couple short stretches of private road; be sure to look for signs to get you back on the proper trail. As an option, include Buzzard Basin #1957.2B as part of loop with Hay Park Trail regardless of which trailhead you start/finish from.
Shared By: Mark Eller