A scenic ride within the rolling and rocky southern San Juan mountains.”
— J. Bella
Usually snowpacked from October through May.
The reward of this ride is a fairly new trail, built by some dedicated locals with the Forest Service a few years ago along the primitive and remote Continental Divide Trail route through New Mexico.
The trail crosses open meadows and mixed growth conifer and aspen forests, crossing a network of forest roads built within a historic gold mining region.
The valuable metal deposits may be played out, but the section of singletrack flowing through the rolling high elevation terrain is a riding gem for anyone who loves singletrack.
Need to Know
There are a lot of campsites along Burned Mountain Trail (Forest Road 91B)
, as well as the Hopewell Campground and where the Continental Divide Trail crosses 42B, providing different opportunities to ride this as a shuttle or out-and-back.
The CDT continues beyond the bottom of this ride for several miles, crossing U.S. Highway 84 near Abiquiu - much of the trail is rideable, some sections are patchy and not completely built yet. Check with the Tres Piedras Ranger District for more information, they are enthusiastic about the lands they manage and have some good maps of the entire region.
This area can be heavily used by campers and anglers at times, during the fall, it's a popular elk hunting destination. Because it hasn't been adequately mapped and not many bikers know about the potential of this region, the trails become overgrown. They are maintained by the FS as much as possible yet could benefit from more use, more bike tread could do a lot to keep the trails rideable!
Ridden as a loop, this is a moderate ride with some eloquent climbs, a few short, rocky sections and a couple miles of flowing singletrack leading to a fast sprint on a downhill traverse.
From US 64, turn west onto Forest Road 42B at Hopewell Lake. Drive a mile (passing the entrance to the lake and then the campground on the right) and continue to the left onto Burned Mountain Trail (Forest Road 91B)
for 5.3 miles to the junction with FR 450. There is space for a few vehicles to park here, and also below the junction where 450 leads to an open meadow.
Ride back up Burned Mountain Trail (Forest Road 91B)
for three miles, enjoy the mile long descent then climb 1.4 miles to where the CDT crosses the road. Turn right and follow the trail markers along doubletrack for 0.2 miles, the singletrack begins here.
The first section is a gradual climb where scattered rocks and some roots require a bit of technical maneuvering, leading to a brief sprint along a doubletrack road before transitioning to singletrack for the descent. Smooth and flowing in places, rocky and bumpy in others, and with a couple flat sections where the trail is sunk into the earth, the trail meanders through old mining prospects and grazing meadows before dropping into an aspen grove.
Eight curvy switchbacks precede a fast descent across an open meadow and through rolling drainages leading back to the road. This last section is fun, yet because it's not a heavily used trail it can be bumpy where animals have burrowed into the ground and plants have grown over the trail. Look for the CDT markers if you can't see where the trail crosses some of the forest roads, they're strategically placed along the route.
History & Background
Hopewell Lake was built within a historic placer and hard rock gold mining area. The local gold rush was short lived as the modest deposits played out, leaving a trove of tailings and waterways affected by accelerated erosion. Successful restoration projects have begun rehabbing the damage caused to Placer Creek and along the slopes and valleys draining from the divide.