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West Mag Backcountry Big Ride

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.9 (74) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

The bigger and badder tour of West Magnolia featuring the School Bus Trail descent.


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Map Key

13.1

Miles

21.1

KM

90%

Singletrack

9,606' 2,928 m

High

8,630' 2,630 m

Low

1,415' 431 m

Up

1,413' 431 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

27%

Max Grade (15°)

Dogs Off-leash

E-Bikes Allowed

11/2020 Update: Parking is limited at the Peak-to-Peak trailhead and riders should park at the RTD Park and Ride in Nederland, the parking at Nederland High School (when school is not in session), or the central West Mag lot 1 mile down Haul Road. This route has been updated to start from the center lot.

Overview

This ride takes in most of the newly rebuilt close-to-town trails in the West Mag area profiled in the Rhythm & Blues featured ride and then adds one of the best climbs and descents in the West Mag area.

This is a more rugged and remote trail experience that requires an adventurous spirit, plenty of extra food and water, and a willingness to get lost and find yourself again. Much of this trail system will be updated, the intersections made more intuitive, and the eroded sections of trail rerouted or hardened due to the Boulder Ranger District's Magnolia Non-Motorized Trails Plan - so get out there to experience the "old school" Mag backcountry experience while it still exists.

What comes in the future is likely to be more navigable, less eroded, and more pleasant for the average mountain biker. Note: the West Magnolia trails area has many short trails that are disjointed by brief segments of road which can be disorienting. Do not despair if you make a wrong turn. There are as many good ways to do this ride as there are opinions on the internet. The key features of this ride are the Lost Meadow Trail #355 / Rocks and Roots / School Bus #929 link up to get the big climb and descent. The rest can be improvised.

Need to Know

This loop takes you far into the backcountry and away from civilization. This area is a maze of trails and old roads, you should expect to get lost and find yourself again. Come prepared with a map, plenty of water, and a sandwich. If you don't like exploring, don't do this ride without someone who knows the area well.

Description

This ride can be done from the Observatory Trailhead, the RTD Park-n-Ride in Nederland, the parking at Nederland High School (when school is not in session), the parking at the West Magnolia Trailhead on the Peak-to-Peak Highway (very limited parking). This route starts from the Observatory trailhead 1 mile down Haul Road, but you can modify these directions to work for the other parking areas.

From the parking lot, head east (the way you drove in), cross the road and start up the trail. At the first intersection, stay left to stay on Handshake. Follow Handshake to the four way intersection with Aspen Alley Trail #342A - make a right on Aspen Alley Trail #342A and head downhill. Cross Sugar Magnolia #926. Aspen Alley will spit you out at the far end of Haul Road - cross the road and begin climbing Lookout Trail #926.

A couple hundred feet after your crest the top of the hill, there will be a right turn onto Hobbit. This new trail segment was completed in 2020. While many riders prefer the south-to-north direction, it rides well this direction, too. You'll climb a bit (look for the optional Engine Slab feature 1/3 of a mile in) and you'll be rewarded with some bumps and berms at the end where you connect at a K intersection (you'll take the closest right). You are now heading away from civilization. If you thought the core West Mag areas were difficult to navigate, reconsider heading up here. If you are looking for some adventure, let's start the climb!

This trail is variously called Lost Meadow Trail #355 , Hobbit 3.5, or Rocks and Roots. After about a mile in the forest, the trail opens up into a pretty meadow. You'll pass a few trails along the way, but don't take them. They are mostly descents that will either be a horrible climb, or take you back downhill. Feel free to explore this area if you have an adventurous spirit. Many of these trails will be decommissioned as part of the Magnolia Non-Motorized Trails Plan, so enjoy them while they still exist - we hope to see equally awesome trails developed in the future that do not cross private property or go through sensitive habitat.

At the western edge of the meadow, there is a 4x4 road the enters from the north. Continue up Rocks and Roots to the southwest crossing a small stream and tackling many exposed roots and steep eroded tread. You'll come across several intersecting roads, and you'll usually do well by taking the one that looks most well worn, and, sadly, the steepest option. Doing so will eventually take you to a spot where the road levels out and spits you out on the 503 road. Go uphill on this road for about a quarter mile then turn left on the 109 road for about 0.4 miles. Look to your left for a short climb through some aspens - this is easy to miss, so don't get excited and start heading downhill on the road! There are some "No Trespassing" signs that can be confusing - they are there to remind you to stay on the trail.

From here, take a left and head east onto a short singletrack climb that is the School Bus #929 trail. A couple hundred feet later you start to descend. This is a long, and gnarly descent. If you like going fast through chunder, you'll love the upper parts of this descent. The legendary bus rests about 2/3 down a bit off the trail. At the bottom, you'll come to a T-intersection with the Hobbit trail - turn right (downhill). Stay on Hobbit through several road crossings to Re-Root #927 .

Continue on Re-Root #927 (crossing Haul Road) to the intersection with Aspen Alley Trail #342A where you'll take a left. Climb until it tops out in a meadow and begin descending. There is one trail intersection where you'll want to bear right and stay on Aspen Alley Trail #342A and another to stay left. The lower part of the trail is extremely fun - with rollers, jumps, and berms with a number of alternate lines with features. At the bottom of the berms you'll hit Handshake again. Make a left and come back the way you started to get back to the trailhead.

History & Background

The Boulder Mountainbike Alliance (BMA) has been working in this area for a very long time, from getting the original social trails legitimized when the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) was considering what to do about them back in 2003 to advocating for a dramatic expansion of the legal trail system when the USFS decided to tackle the issue of social trail proliferation in a process that came to a close in 2016.

The USFS recently approved the Magnolia Non-Motorized Trails Project, and BMA is helping to secure funds to help the USFS implement that project. This long-term involvement of BMA with the USFS has allowed for some very creative and progressive trail design and construction on the near town trails. In the coming years, this work will continue to head uphill to address many of the trails on this ride. Look for significant improvements in this ride in the years ahead. The Nederland Area Trails Organization (NATO) also partners on this project.

Contacts

Shared By:

Wendy Sweet with improvements by Jason Vogel and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  3.9 from 74 votes

#55

Overall
  3.9 from 74 votes
5 Star
27%
4 Star
45%
3 Star
19%
2 Star
7%
1 Star
3%
Recommended Route Rankings

#16

in Colorado

#55

Overall
111 Views Last Month
26,097 Since Nov 24, 2020
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Rolling through the aspens on Re-Root.
Oct 5, 2016 near Nederland, CO
Review in both directions of New 34
Jun 13, 2020 near Nederland, CO
"Look out" for awesome fall colors on this trail.
Oct 5, 2016 near Nederland, CO
Re-Root!
Jul 14, 2015 near Nederland, CO
It's more than 45 degrees steep, but rollable with a clean rampy exit.  And there's a ride-around.
Jun 22, 2013 near Nederland, CO
Parts of the trail are just as they always were.
Jun 26, 2013 near Nederland, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Bad / Closed 31 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Sep 26, 2020
Chance Weber
Sep 20, 2020
Matthew Koenig
13.4mi — 4h 27m
Sep 19, 2020
Chris Sulfrian
Sep 6, 2020
Lauren Brada
Sep 5, 2020
Nick Dahlin
Aug 25, 2020
Frank Silvester
Aug 15, 2020
Nicholas Horan
Sean's 33rd Birthday ride! 11mi
Jul 22, 2020
Britton Barrett
My personal favorite area to ride- massive trail system and can be secluded even with campers. Has smooth downhill sections on the Western side to… 4mi