This is a variation on a common ride in the area, incorporating the Lame Horse Trail #055
. You'll push your way up three major climbs, but all climbing in this area is rewarded with amazing descents. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and lush forests. But, don't get caught looking too long, you'll need your eyes on the trail for that next root-drop!
There is an entrance gate just past the Aspen Grove family camp. A day pass is $6 per vehicle. Motorcycles are allowed on this trail system.
Start and end this ride at roughly the middle of the Lame Horse Trail #055
. The advantage of starting here is you cut off the bottom half of Lame Horse, which, honestly, is just ok and probably more work getting up that it than it is worth.
Begin your pedal up the trail through thick aspen forest with even thicker fern groundcover. These ferns grow tall and lush and may grow over the trail in places depending on usage. This climb can get a bit steep, but without very many technical features other than the occasional root and/or rock step-up.
You'll break out of the woods at the Alpine Summit trailhead. Cross this looped parking lot by heading northwest through it (or in the same general direction as the trail you were just on). At about the 11 o'clock position of the loop, you'll see the Ridge Trail #157
on the right heading north into the trees. Take that and just when you think you're settling in for more singletrack riding you'll come to a road crossing. Just cross that road and directly on the other side is the singletrack you seek.
The southern portion of the Ridge Trail #157
is enjoyable, not too much climbing and some short but fun descents. One descent you'll come to pretty quickly is a bit on the rowdy side with several root and rock drops. Enjoy that, then stay right at the intersection with the Alpine Ridge Connector
A short distance later, you'll reach an intersection with the Pine Hollow #47
trail. Take that trail to the left. The descent down the eastern portion of this trail is not to be missed. It is flowing, s-curving, singletrack goodness! There is a creek crossing along the way and some of this gets fairly steep so be mindful of the potential uphill user; coming to a stop here might be difficult. There are also a few root-drops that will make you feel like an mtb champion as you catch a little air off of them.
This is the only place on this ride where you'll take a fun descent out on credit: you now have to climb back up what you just flew down. The turnaround point here is the intersection of Pine Hollow #47
with Salamander Flat Trail #150
. You had your fun, now turn around and earn it by cranking back up that hill.
Once returning to the Ridge Trail #157
, veer left. You'll do some more moderate climbing followed by a short, but fun, descent. At the bottom of this descent, take a hard right (going straight lands you on the Mud Springs #173
trail). Here is one of the tougher climbs of the ride. The trail is steep and the surface is loose. But just put your head down and pedal, dangit!
Once at the top of this, you'll get some more fun and flowing singletrack. Some of this feels a little exposed as the drop off on the right is severe and steep. Be sure to stay focused on the trail in front of you.
Next up is the intersection with the South Fork of Little Deer Creek Trail #252
. This is it, you've made it! This descent is amazing! Lower that seat and get ready to rip your way down some super flowy and smooth singletrack with the occasional root-drop mixed in. You'll zip through thick forest and feel like a hero doing it. This part of the ride is too much fun! Some locals refer to this stretch of trail as the Joy Trail
. Ride it and see for yourself.
The joyride comes to a close at a road crossing. This portion of the trail is a gradual climb back up towards the Alpine Summit Trail
. Enjoy the pretty meadows and forests. You'll cross a dirt and then a paved road. Then you hook back up to Lame Horse Trail #055
to your left.
Riding down Lame Horse is fun. Remember those ferns? They didn't seem like too big of a deal on the way up. Suddenly on the way down they seem to hide the trail from your view with their slope. They also seem to want to reach out and grab your arms and pull them off of your handlebars. Just flex your muscles and power through. Then feel like you're on the forest moon of Endor as you ride back down to your car.
As an alternative start and endpoint with more parking, use the Timpooneke trailhead for Salamander Flat Trail #150
and head up to this same loop with the Alpine Ridge Connector
. On the return, hop onto Willow Hollow Trail #159
instead of Ridge Trail #157