The loop begins (and ends) at the Soderberg Open Space parking lot. Be sure to pay for a day pass ($6) if you don't have an annual Larimer County parking pass.
From the southern end of the parking lot, enter the Inlet Bay Trail
camping area. The trail rolls south through a number of campsites along the shore of the inlet, dumping you onto the campsite roads from time to time (signs point the way throughout).
Just after the last camp site (~one mile) and before the trail veers off to the left (due south) towards the Blue Sky
parking lot, turn right onto the county road and ride up to the next intersection. Turn right and continue up the paved county road (be aware of traffic even though the road is heavily used by cyclists) until you arrive at the Horsetooth Mountain Park entrance.
Here, you find the South Ridge Trail
by taking a left at the parking lot. The South Ridge Trail
is a relatively long grind that climbs nearly to the foot of Horsetooth Rock. Fit riders will get a workout while less experienced riders will suffer a bit. Nevertheless, the trail provides spectacular views of the high plains, Fort Collins, Horsetooth Reservoir, the foothills, and various peaks of RMNP (Longs Peak being the most prominent). By the time you reach the Wathen Trail
, you'll have climbed for nearly an hour, but the payoff begins here.
After a nice, scenic break atop the rocks near the Wathen Trail
intersection, head right onto Wathen and enjoy a technical descent down rock features, occasional roots, small drops, and a few fun optional features. There is one intersection near the start, right after the fun begins (stay right). The trail ends in a small valley below Horsetooth rock at the intersection with the Spring Creek Trail
. Take a left here and enjoy the beautiful views as you cruise for a few minutes to reach the Herrington Trail
to the right.
You'll climb a short distance up Herrington to a ridge with more views of the surrounding area. Continue left (north) on Herrington along the ridge for a short distance until you end at the Towers
road. Turn right here and head downhill for about 100 meters until you see the trail marker to the left that marks the continuation of Herrington Trail
. This is another fantastic downhill section on tight singletrack with roots, a few tight switchbacks, and a few hops. After a final switchback, the trail smoothes out and merges into the Loggers
Continue left (north) on Loggers
and enjoy a super-charged descent down fast, rocky, root-strewn terrain followed by flat flowy sections and one or two short, punchy climbs.
trail ends at the intersection with Mill Creek Trail
. Continue straight here on Mill Creek and enjoy another series of challenging downhill sections featuring a few alternative drops and small jumps. Mill Creek eventually enters Lory State Park and descends a number of super fun water bars and rocky switchbacks to bottom out at the South Valley Trail
You could turn right (south) here and head back to Soderberg, but I prefer to turn left instead toward the Arthur's Rock parking area. Take the next right for a brief traverse on the East Valley Trail
to the top of the South Valley Trail Loop
. This fantastically flowy descent down the east side of the valley is well worth the small amount of extra mileage. Keep heading south till you cross the boundary back into the Soderberg Open Space (make sure to watch for hikers and horses here).
Again, you could continue south back to the parking lot, but I always crave more and take the Sawmill Connector
up a short distance to ride down the rock garden at the bottom of the Sawmill Trail
. Play around at the rock garden and then finish down the Sawmill Trail
. Turn right at the intersection with the Nomad Trail
and follow it south till it meets Towers
, where a quick left and right will get you back to the Soderburg Open Space parking lot.