A great singletrack descent with a modest price! Get all the climbing over with right away, it's not too steep... Then enjoy scenery, wildflowers, and great singletrack for many miles.
Though technically moderate (even bordering on easy), this ride has a sustained climb at very high elevation. Most people will find it aerobically challenging.
Park at the Keystone Gulch Trailhead and immediately start climbing the dirt road right next to a stream. The grade is not too steep, and the surface is very smooth, so enjoy the views of the many beaver dams and pretty valley scenery.
At around 3 miles, you'll pass two lifts at the bottom of the Outback area of Keystone ski area. Shortly after that (at around 3.4 miles), there is a turnoff that crosses the stream and heads uphill. This is CO Rd 176, and your next turn.
Though it ascends 900 feet, this uphill section is spread over 3 miles and is never terribly difficult. There are several short steep parts, but then it has many sections of easier, rolling terrain which lifts your mood as you climb higher and higher.
There are many branch roads, but they're all obviously abandoned and it's easy to follow the main road.
Keep a sharp eye out near the top of the ridge. Turn right at a switchback, and look on the left for an area that looks like a camping spot. There you'll find unmarked singletrack heading out. It's very easy to miss this turn, so use the MTB Project MTB Project mobile app
! If you miss the turn, you'll only go a quarter mile more before the road splits, then ends.
Follow this connector up a small hill and you'll soon run into the Colorado Trail. Take a right turn and enjoy several miles of awesome scenery and a flowing descent. This trail is extremely popular with bikers and hikers going in both directions. Be safe and courteous.
Once you reach a signed intersection with the Red Trail
, take a right, and enjoy more spectacular singletrack. Wildflowers abound in the huge meadows, then enjoy a cool forest, and finally follow a creek and more meadows to the Soda Ridge Trail
near an old homestead.
Follow the Soda Ridge Trail
up and down small hills through recent logging operations. It's going to heal, but parts of this area are a bit torn up. You snake through neighborhoods and open hillside, sometimes directly in the aqueduct (where it's not contained in pipe). Surprisingly fun!
At the intersection with the Keystone Aqueduct Trail
, turn right. Pay attention and you'll see a diverted water stream flow into a pipe, and then you'll be riding right on top of it. Continue on level, easy terrain until you need to go around a cliff. The trail is skinnier here, and there are some wooden planks on top of parts of the exposed pipe for about 50 feet. If you're a total beginner, feel free to walk this section!
Follow the trail just a little ways up Keystone Gulch. It will cross the creek, but if you go 100 yards further, you'll find a bridge to ride over and back to the road. Cruise down a quarter mile back to your car.