“Well-earned views and solitude. This trail is not for your weekend warrior...but for the mountain biking enthusiast.”
— Scotty "Chaco" Vinas
The first part, a mix of new trail tied into a very old forgotten trail, leads to one of the most popular trails in the county. Then there are five to six miles of forgiving climbing with views that are out of this world of Lake Dillon, Swan Mountain, Dillon, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Summit Cove.
Twenty-five years ago, Tenderfoot Mountain was considered a great place to ride, but that was when primitive trail building techniques were the latest and greatest thing. Tenderfoot Mountain has hundreds of trails that go everywhere, but as places like Fruita, Moab, Buffalo Creek, and Monarch Crest gained popularity and trail building trends became more "buttery", primitive trails like the ones found on Tenderfoot where left behind and surrendered to the geriatric dog walking homeowners of the neighborhoods below.
BUT, in 2017, the Forest Service trying to spread out crowds from the new Breckenridge mountain bike crowds/trail system, decided to build some key trails linking some of the older TenFoot trails. One of the many things that you'll love about this route is its solitude. There are only a few ways in and out and even those are not easily accessed.
Another attribute is its scenery. At any point during your ride, you can look to your right and see from Red Mountain, Ten Mile Range to Quandary. You'll ride lush green forest on the switchbacks of the northern aspect to drier baron fields of sagebrush. You'll ride through old "dead/down" tree clearings, beautiful Aspen groves, to young thick small diameter Pine forest. One of my favorites, around mile seven, is the "Pick up Sticks" forest...trust me, you'll know it when you see it.
Need to Know
The trails on north-facing aspects don't melt out until late May. I was able to ride this trail on my fat bike until mid-December. An old locals secret; once the lake freezes, the TenFoot Mountain trails are no longer rideable without a fat bike. NOTE: Oro Grande Trail
is rideable on a fat bike throughout the season.
You start off from the parking lot and proceed north on dirt road. After about 0.6 miles or so, on your right you'll start the climb through a lush and green pine forest with huge mature trees. It is important to settle in on your climbing pace because as you'll see on the graphic, your going to be on an easy but long 5.6-mile climb. If you're riding with one of your ego driven "race" friends...send them up the road, you'll come across their exhausted body by the time the ride is over. Take your time, look around, and enjoy this well-planned/designed climb.
At your first intersection, go RIGHT. After about 2.5 miles, you'll come to the Tenderfoot Hiking Trail intersection, go LEFT. Your next intersection will be a four-way; continue straight down the obvious trail. (NOTE: if you're not feeling Chaco's TenFoot Loop....here's your exit! Turn right, rally down the steep descent to the Oro Grande Trail
and you're back to civilization.) Take the "Blue Pill" and continue down Chaco's TenFoot Loop and you're in for a real treat.
At mile 6.9, you're going to start hearing what you think is gun fire...IT IS! This would be a good section to ride faster! Just kidding! The trail designers have deliberately switchbacked you up and just over the rise above the Summit County Gun Range, so you'll be traveling on the other side of the hill top and truly have nothing to be worried about.
Shortly after you rise over the false summit, you'll come to the "Pick Up Sticks" forest. This is an amazing area as you ride through the only clear path, the rest of the forest floor is COVERED completely with 2-3" diameter "dead and down" small pines. It's actually a very unique place.
At 8.5 miles, take a right and enjoy an older TenFoot trail on Lower Tenderfoot Mountain Road #9509
and Wide Open Trail #9508
until you reach the Frey Gulch Rd. Continue down this, through the forest gate, past the Summit County Gun Range and just after the gun range look to your right. Here, you'll see the "Tour De Trash" switchbacks that climb for a short distance (mile 9.5).
At 10.65 miles, you'll come to the Buzztail
, keep going straight threw this intersection on Oro Grande Trail
. At 11.35 miles, you'll come to the Cemetery Trail
, keep going straight. At 13.6 miles, you come to the Tenderfoot Trail
intersection; keep going straight as you're almost back at the parking lot.
In summary, the weekend warrior may suffer on this long, steady, but great climb. This will be a favorite for the true mountain bike enthusiast. Please add comments and update conditions.