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.
There's a lot of dispersed campsites along Forest Road 91B
, as well as the Hopewell Lake Campground Loop
(for a nightly fee) and where the CDT: Hopewell Lake South (Section 29)
crosses the road, providing different opportunities to ride this as a shuttle or loop.
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 become crowded during holidays and hunting season, yet because it hasn't been thoroughly mapped and not many mtbers know about the potential of this region the trails can become overgrown. They are maintained by the Forest Service as much as possible and could benefit from more use, more bike tread could do a lot to improve the routes in this area.
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.
Arriving by car: From US 64 turn west onto Forest Road 42
at Hopewell Lake. Drive past the entrance to the lake (Forest Road 356
) and continue onto Forest Road 91B
for about 6.3 miles to the junction with Forest Road 450. There is space for a few vehicles to park here, and also a short ways down 450 by an open meadow.
Ride back up 91B for three miles, enjoy a mile-long descent then climb 1.4 miles to where the CDT crosses the road. Turn right through some dispersed campsites and follow the CDT markers along a 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 where the trail crosses some of the forest roads, they're strategically placed along the route.
The loop can also be ridden starting from the northwest near the Hopewell Lake Campground. Pick up the trail where the CDT crosses the road (see above). In this variation, you'll do all the fun bits first and finish with the long uphill slog.
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.