Keystone Gulch to Soda Creek Loop

 64 votes

15.5 Miles 25.0 Kilometers


70%

Singletrack

2,046' 624 m

Ascent

-2,051' -625 m

Descent

11,012' 3,356 m

High

9,287' 2,831 m

Low

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

24%

Max Grade (13°)

All Clear

16 days agoUpdate

A moderate dirt road climb leads to a sustained, scenic, fast singletrack tour of Soda Park.

Nick Wilder

Overview

Keystone Gulch Road is closed May 15-June 15 for elk calving.
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.
Dogs: Off-leash

Need to Know

Though technically moderate (even bordering on easy), this ride has a sustained climb at very high elevation. Most people will find it aerobically challenging.

Description

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.

Contacts

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4.4 from 64 votes


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Check-Ins

Sep 16, 2017
bob sacamano
Solo! 16.1mi
Sep 9, 2017
Dan Ruether
Sep 4, 2017
Stephanie Kohnen
Awesome! Beautiful ride.
Sep 2, 2017
Eric Schneider
Sep 2, 2017
Katie Schneider
Sep 1, 2017
Kelly Muedeking
Great ride! The navigation towards the end got a little confusing, but otherwise a wonderful ride! 15.5mi
Aug 21, 2017
Andy Reed

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Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 64 votes

#55

Overall
  4.4 from 64 votes
5 Star
47%
4 Star
47%
3 Star
3%
2 Star
3%
1 Star
0%
Rankings

#22

in Colorado

#55

Overall
1,464 Views Last Month
19,066 Since Jul 2, 2014
Intermediate Intermediate

0%
20%
59%
18%
2%
0%

Conditions


All Clear 16 days ago

Getting forecast...

Photos

We did the soda creek loop followed by this loop on back to back days. Comparing the two, this trail - especially the CT section - is significantly more challenging. While the ascent was not technical, there were three large drops (> 3 feet) on the CT and most of the switchbacks were washed out, loose, and crazy steep. The descriptions of these two trails are NOT consistent. Do not be fooled. This ride is a serious challenge for a beginner/intermediate. The only other riders we encountered were quite studly. I think the description suffers from some "expert bias." Aug 15, 2016


this loop is a tough climb for a green rating, so blue seems a good rating for the uphill. The DH is too easy for a blue rating, just long smooth straight sections with no technical features except the switchbacks (yes, there are a couple small stepdowns but not enough that this should be considered a blue descent). I would skip the road climb and do the single track up and back. Oct 15, 2016


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