This excellent 20-mile loop with a bit of everything mixed in; technical singletrack, 4WD trails, challenging descents, fast roller coaster doubletrack, and a fat-bike-specific stretch up the Cañada Ancha Route
through Diablo Canyon. If you're on a regular sized tire, there is a gravel road option for the final leg back to the trailhead.
From the parking area at Dead Dog Well, climb up Dead Dog Trail
. The grade starts out pretty mellow but steepens from there. There are some tricky step-ups and switchbacks, but, overall, it's manageable for an intermediate rider. At the top, you'll be rewarded with killer views back towards the Sangre de Cristos.
Pedal onto the Dead Dog Connector
which quickly connects to Road 24JD
for a casual descent to Road 24J
. Turn right to complete a rolling climb for a few miles. When Road 24J
splits to the right as an unmaintained road-trace, keep left onto Road 24JJ
for a short but stiff climb. At the next intersection, head right onto Road 24M
which takes riders for a rolling descent on a somewhat rocky road-trace.
Now that you've made it through all the sagebrush flats, get ready for the Soda Springs Trail. The way down is a steep and challenging descent that's definitely for advanced riders. After the initial straightaway, the singletrack heads into a series of tight switchbacks. There are some amazing views of the Rio Grande below, but just make sure to keep at least one eye on the trail. As it closes toward the river, the trail turns north for a casual road-trace pedal around the tip of the plateau.
At this point, those on fat bikes can turn to make their way along Cañada Ancha Route
through Diablo Canyon back to Dead Dog Well (as mapped). This is a long ride in sandy conditions, but there are excellent technical rocky spots and awesome views within Diablo Canyon.
If you're riding a bike with regular sized tires, keep following the Soda Springs Trail to where it ends at the Old Buckman Road. Turn right and follow the gravel south for just shy of seven miles to reach the trailhead.