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blueBlack Sunshine Kitty - Rock Drops Loop

  4.7 ( 29 ) Favorite

Trail

8.1 mile 13.0 kilometer loop
90% Singletrack
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 860' 262 m
Descent: -865' -264 m
High: 8,546' 2,605 m
Low: 7,912' 2,412 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)

Dogs

Off-leash
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Trail shared by Brian Smith

A short loop option with fun climbing and descending that hits some of Penitente's highlights.

Brian Smith

E-Bikes Unknown

Features -none-

Overview

This is a great loop that could be done as a "just passing through" or a "laps from the campsite" ride. Really well-built trail and awesome natural topography pay off big time with super fun climbs and descents.

From the main entrance, drive Penitente Canyon Road through the campground to the main trailhead. You can access this loop from a number of points, but this access point is recommended.

Need to Know

There are "trail confidence markers" at trail junctions, but unless you have a picture of the main trailhead map to reference, they're useless. Be sure to download the Colorado data on the MTB Project mobile app for easy navigation.

There's a developed, self-pay campground right at the main trailhead. More info.

This is a great shoulder season ride (spring and fall). Summer can be brutally hot. Be alert at all times for rattlesnakes.

Description

From the main trailhead parking, head southwest on the Blue Sky Loop. The trail climbs at a nice grade along a sage and juniper-covered hillside. Be sure to look over your shoulder toward the prominent Sangre de Cristo mountain range to the east. Pass through the gate and continue to a 4-way junction. Here you'll diverge from Blue Sky Loop by continuing straight (Blue Sky goes right) onto South Witches Canyon Road / Capulin Loop.

Descend the road and look for the first right onto another doubletrack that's steep and cobble-covered. At the bottom, turn right onto the connector that leads to a gate at the canyon mouth. Once through the gate, enjoy the scenery inside the canyon along Sunshine Kitty trail. At the first junction make a hard left (note the hazard symbol on the map) to stay on Sunshine Kitty.

This trail was extremely well built and many thanks are owed to Brink, of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, and the youth trail corps that made it happen. A nice climbing grade paired with creative routing that utilizes the area's amazing topography, make this a trail that is a blast to climb. It's so good you won't even realize how much vert you're gaining.

At the top (around mile 3.5), a signpost marks the junction with Rock Drops, which splits off hard to the right. Continuing straight (west) at this sign post would put you on a non-system trail. Rock Drops starts with a short, mellow climb followed by an almost continuous descent.

As you start downhill, you'll quickly find out where the trail's name came from. Advanced riders will love launching off drop after drop and beginner/intermediates should feel pretty comfortable rolling everything. The trail will leave you wanting more laps after your first as you're unlikely to see/hit every optional line the first time around.

At the next junction, stay left to ride the northern portion of Blue Sky Loop and get ready for more of the same. At about mile 5.7, stay left again to follow Iglesia de San Juan into the gulley. A quick, fun descent here leads to a mellow climb on Los Hermanos. Finish with a cruising descent on an open sage hillside and bang a right on the road to follow it back to the lot or your campsite.

History & Background

Penitente Canyon is well known amongst Colorado climbers. If you're a climber, bring your shoes and a sport rack for some multi-sport fun. Visit Mountain Project for climbing beta.

Contacts

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Check-Ins

Jun 9, 2019
Matt Castelli
Counter clockwise. More technical up. Less flowy down. 8.6mi
Jun 8, 2019
Drew Turner
Jun 8, 2019
Matt Castelli
Raddddd. Blue sky down 6mi
May 29, 2019
Erland Mowinckel
10.7mi — 1h 50m
May 26, 2019
Lauren Marie
Missed the sharp left
May 2, 2019
Gee Toe
Apr 28, 2019
Laurie Strasburger
Beautiful climb with breathtaking views and super fun downhill!!
Oct 20, 2018
Brandon McCann
Got lost at the end

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 29 votes

#307

Overall
  4.7 from 29 votes
5 Star
72%
4 Star
28%
3 Star
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2 Star
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1 Star
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Rankings

#85

in Colorado

#307

Overall
127 Views Last Month
5,694 Since May 25, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

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