“Fun ride with multiple stream crossings and flowy singletrack.
— Cody Terkhorn
This is the first bike friendly trail you come to in the Poudre Canyon, with only a 20+ minute drive from the edge of north Fort Collins. The trail gets far enough into the mountains that it has more tree cover and also is not as rocky as its hog back cousins like devils backbone. It has a plethora of stream crossings, is 100% singletrack, and pairs nicely with a ride on Dadd or Youngs gulch (also up the Poudre).
The primary drawback to its location is that it also has a lot of traffic and can get quite busy on weekends and later in the day. This however, shouldn't keep you from riding this great northern CO trail.
Need to Know
There are lots of creek crossings so don't wear your fancy pants and bring a change of cloths for the post ride festivities.
From the parking lot you'll follow Hewlett Gulch along the stream that winds through, crossing it at least a dozen times. This climb is not steep and has a couple rocky areas which shouldn't be too difficult to navigate for an intermediate rider. At around 2 miles into the ride you'll come to a fork in the trail.
Taking the trail to the left introduces you to a set of switchbacks, followed by a nice tacky trail that rolls up and down. The trail will eventually bring you to the summit of the ride. From here it's all downhill, with lots of singletrack where you can really open her up a bit and fly.
You'll eventually reach the rock garden that posses the most difficult portion of the ride however going this direction it's a downhill garden and might pose a challenge to an intermediate rider. From here you'll return to the gulch and the burn out from the recent fires. The charcoaled trees have an erie beauty to them and if you lean up against them you'll end up bringing a little bit of it home with you. Eventually, you'll reach the fork and return back to the parking lot.
The other direction is the same only in reverse and the rock garden will be a Hike-A-Bike for many riders. The switchback section is fast, slow, fast, slow and hard to build a good rhythm. I prefer the clockwise route, but I will let you be the judge.
History & Background
This area has been hit by several fires in the years past and as such has a lot of black toothpicks for trees. It's actually beautiful although bittersweet.