“This rocky portion of CT can be a challenge, but is rewarding.”
— BlakeV Vanier
Disclaimer: We did segments 16 and 17 as a day ride starting at the dropoff of the Monarch Crest trail, so my opinion of difficulty might be a little biased due to the long day we had.
This section really seems to be one for motorcycles. The cuts can be steep and the rocks are tiring.
Once you leave the clearings around Sargent's Mesa and enter the forest, you're back into the rocks. About the next 10 miles of trail is pretty rocky. You might feel like all you're doing is climbing, but it's actually flat to slightly downhill. These miles are slow and require constant effort, with lots of rough sections that sap your energy.
After the descent (at around 11 miles into the ride), the trail cleans up a bit. However, it does go to the top of every hill in the vicinity which can get old really quickly and sap your motivation to try to ride.
After the final descent leaves the singletrack, turn right at the dirt road and continue on. Unfortunately you lose a lot of elevation on this road which would have been nice on singletrack. Hw 114 is close!
If you're starting this section fresh, most of it is rideable. The hardest part is simply the amount of miles you have to fight for.