“An obscure trail in the Flattops that is big on wildflowers, views, and adventure.”
— adam cornely
Need to Know
Ride with a friend. This is an isolated area, that is rarely visited. Cell phone service is scant, if not non-existent, so plan accordingly. The second creek crossing, just before the little climb up to the intersection of FS 820 and the Mansfield Ditch trail is a nice place to rest and splash some cool creek water on your head to cool off, although drinking from the creek is likely not advisable.
To access Clark Ridge, park at the top of Buford Road FS 245 at the gravel parking area, and winter recreational staging area. From there you have two choices, either ride the West Elk Multiuse Trail which leaves directly from the parking lot, or ride Buford Road FS 245 to the intersection with the Clark Ridge Road FS 822. If you choose to take the West Elk Multiuse Trail you'll exit the trail on Bar HL Road. Take a right on Bar HL Road and a quick left on Buford Road FS 245 and continue on to Clark Ridge Road FS 822.
Take a right on 822 and begin climbing this rough doubletrack. After a short climb, you'll top out and enjoy a nice ride through a wildflower meadow before descending towards the trees. Once you enter the forest you'll come to a "trail closed to motorized vehicles" sign and a large tree in the road and commonly a large muddy pond. Work your way around the pond, and over the tree, and the singletrack trail will present itself on the other side.
The trail is generally pretty well defined, but at times can get a little faint. If you study the map of Clark Ridge before beginning your ride, you'll notice that there are two steep canyons on either side of the ridge. The trail takes you down the ridge, where you then make a sharp right turn and head back to the beginning of the steep canyon that was on your right as your rode the ridge.
Enjoy the singletrack, which alternates between flowy, rocky, and technical. As you work your way down the slope above the canyon, you'll get to a muddy stream crossing. Cross this and immediately begin a short hike-a-bike section. Once atop the hike-a-bike, begin another fun section of trail, which ends in a very steep, technical descent to another creek crossing. Once on the other side of the creek, climb up the singletrack and arrive at the intersection of FS 820 and the Mansfield Ditch Trail. From here, you can climb up FS 820 to arrive back at the car you parked at the top of Buford Road, or if you left a shuttle vehicle at the bottom of Buford Road at the cattle guard you can finish your ride on the Mansfield Ditch Trail. Both will present challenges. Mansfield Ditch in the way of additional mileage to your ride, and FS 820 with a brutal climb up to Buford Road. Enjoy!