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Mountain Bike Excursions
Virtually Limitless Opportunities
Many years ago, the Pagosa Springs area was heavily logged, leaving a multitude of Forest Service roads and trails, and now, 80 years later, virtually limitless opportunities for mountain bikers. With a wide variety of routes and terrain, and ample acres of national forest, Pagosa Springs is an ideal mountain biking destination for riders of all skill levels. Be forewarned, however; most area rides begin above 7,000 feet, therefore flatlanders should factor in time to acclimate before setting out on longer or more demanding rides.

The Wolf Creek Wheel Club (WCWC) is based in Pagosa Springs. It exists to promote the sport of bicycling in our community. Trail development, maintenance and access for mountain bikes are a big part of the WCWC mission. The Web site for WCWC is wolfcreekwheelclub.com. On the Web site, one can find routes and maps for mountain bike rides, as well as road bike and cross bike rides. The latest information about club meetings, events and group rides can also be found on the Web site.

Gary Hopkins published a book in 2007 called, “Pagosa Rides — Mountain Biking in and around Pagosa Springs.” The guide is available at Pedal n’ Powder, Moonlight Books and the local Forest Service District office.

When mountain biking, please observe a few precautions before heading to the trails

1. Wear a helmet.

2. Mountain weather changes rapidly — wear or bring clothing for capricious weather conditions.

3. Bring plenty of water.

4. Carry bike repair tools, including: a spare tire, tire pump and tube patch kit.

5. Ride in control.

6. Always tell someone where you are going, and ride with a friend.

7. A few of the trails are hours away from outside help — plan accordingly.

8. Plan to return to your car before dark.

9. Remember to stay off private land and out of wilderness areas.

10. Wear blaze orange in the fall during hunting season.

11. Yield to horses. They are easily spooked.

Please pay heed to the International Mountain Biking Association Rules of the Trail

1. Ride on open trails only.

2. Leave no trace.

3. Control your bicycle.

4. Always yield to hikers.

5. Never spook animals.

6. Plan ahead.

Listed below are several of the many rides to be found in the Pagosa Springs area. For more trails, maps, etc. go to wolfcreekwheelclub.com.

These are mountain bike rides in and near the Pagosa Springs area. Most of the rides described are loop, and many start from downtown Pagosa Springs. Changes can be made in roads and terrain during the winter and early spring. For this reason, bikers need to be alert to their surrounding area at all times and, of course, carry the appropriate maps.

Rideable trails in the Town of Pagosa Springs

Reservoir Hill Mountain Park

Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced

Mileage: 1.4 to 4 miles

Route: Out and back, or loop

Trails: Dirt, single and double track

Elevation range: 7,280 to 8,000

Maps: Available at each trailhead, at local bike shops and the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center.

Comments: We are extremely lucky to have this little loop in the center of town. It is quite challenging, accessible and secluded. Wildlife to watch for includes squirrels, deer, turkey, elk and bear.

Trailheads — Two trailheads access Reservoir Hill: Spa (above the Spa Motel on Hot Springs Boulevard) and San Juan (behind the San Juan Motel, on U.S. 160). Both trailheads have maps and suggested rides. Reservoir Hill trails are color-coded for your convenience: green is easy; blue is intermediate; red is advanced. There is one looped ride in each difficulty range, but they are by no means the only trails available.

Green: Start at the Spa Trailhead and go up Trail 2 for .6 miles. Halfway up the seven switchbacks at .3 miles, you can opt to join Trail 7 which goes to the top of the hill, but which is much steeper and more difficult.

Trail 2 continues up to the water tower and a meadow. Take a right at that point on Trail 7. At .8 miles, the trail crosses a road and heads downhill. At 1.1 miles, the trail joins up with the road. Take a left and go downhill to the gate at 1.3 miles and you are back at the trailhead. 1.4 miles, 13 minutes.

Blue: Start at the Spa Trailhead and go up the road behind the post office, around the gate and right on Trail 8 for .3 miles. Turn left at the fireplug then right on Trail 8 at .4 miles. Follow the trail through Trail 13 switchbacks for .5 miles, then cross a road (Trail 11) and proceed to the next road (Trail 2) at the 1-mile mark. Turn left on Trail 2 and follow it down through the meadow next to the water tank and down the switchbacks to the trailhead. 1.7 miles, 17 minutes.

Red: Start at either the Spa or San Juan Trailhead. The route described is from the Spa Trailhead. Go right up the road behind the post office, around the gate, and take a right on to Trail 13 at .3 miles. Follow Trail 13 through the trees and up the switchbacks where Trail 8 crosses at .5 miles. At .8 miles, the trail tops out at the radio towers and crosses a road where it starts downhill. Follow Trail 13 along the fence line, crossing Trail 2 at 1.2 miles. Then go uphill again to the San Juan Overlook at 1.4 miles. At this point, you can choose to go back down on Trail 2 for a distance of 1 mile to the Spa Trailhead, or go down Trail 14 for one mile to the San Juan Trailhead. From the San Juan Trailhead, it is 1.5 miles back to the Spa Trailhead via the San Juan Riverwalk. 3.9 miles, 35 minutes.

Hot Springs Boulevard

Class: Beginner

Mileage: 6 miles

An easy six-mile ride that begins and ends in Pagosa Springs Town Park. To begin, exit Town Park on Hermosa Street, go south on Hot Springs Blvd. across the bridge and follow until the road turns east. Continue until you reach Colo. 84 where you will turn left to return to town. There is a nice view of the Continental Divide to your east as you ride. This route has no steep sections and is good for beginners. Be sure to stay far to the right as you ride on the highway.

Ridable trails near town

Eightmile Mesa

Difficulty: Intermediate; long mileage with one steep four-mile hill

Mileage: 14.4 miles

Route: Out and back

Trails: Graded and primitive roads

Elevation Range: 7,200 to 8,040

Maps: San Juan National Forest, Serviceberry Mountain Quad

Comments: Eightmile Mesa provides an interesting contrast to other rides surrounding Pagosa Springs. After a somewhat steep and relentless two-mile climb, you reach the top of the mesa, after which your route becomes a pleasant, rolling journey through pine/oak woodlands interspersed with grassy meadows.

Getting there: From the junction of U.S. 160 and U.S. 84 at the east end of town, drive five miles south on U.S. 84 to Eightmile Mesa Road, identified by a Forest Service sign on the right. Travel up Eightmile Mesa Road a little over a mile, passing the entrance to the Loma Linda subdivision, then reaching the Forest Service gate. Park here.

0.0 — Starting at the parking area, and after making two short climbs, you reach an open meadow area at 0.9 miles.

1.1 — The road, Forest Road 651, bends westward and begins a steady climb.

2.0 — A final steep climb begins at the two-mile mark.

2.3 —The climb tapers off and the route rolls along the top of the mesa, passing through oak, pine and grassy meadows.

3.7 — The Forest Road 651 forks, giving riders a variety of options.

Ride Option 1: The fork to your right leads to the Eightmile Mesa lookout tower in 0.6 miles. This tower, positioned directly above the Eightmile Mesa “clamshell” affords spectacular views of Pagosa Springs and the surrounding mesa and the San Juan Mountains. The tower also provides a convenient turn around point.

Ride Option 2: Continue straight ahead at the fork to stay on Forest Road 651, the main route, which turns into a primitive unmaintained road. At mile 3.8, Forest Road 651B forks to your left. This doubletrack road rolls gently through wildflower meadows and woodlands for one mile to an overlook of the Blanco River Basin and the San Juan Mountains to the east — well worth the effort as a side trip or final destination.

Ride Option 3: Continue past the fork on the main road to mile 5.1, where Forest Road 651C junctions to your left. Follow Forest Road 651C southward for 2.3 miles, passing an old abandoned sawmill site on the way, with views similar to those described in Ride Option 2 at the end.

Ride Option 4: Stay on the Forest Road 651, which is deeply tracked or sandy in places, but otherwise smooth. Passing one more side road (Forest Road 651D) on your way, pass through large open meadows at mile 5.9. Wildflowers abound in late spring and early summer. The route ends at mile 7.2, overlooking the Blanco and San Juan river basins.

Snowball Road & Jackson Mountain Loop

Difficulty: Beginning skills with intermediate fitness level, two river crossings

Mileage: 22 miles

Route: Loop

Trails: Graveled county road, dirt road, double track dirt trail, highway with good shoulders

Elevation Range: 7,200 to 8,200

Maps: San Juan National Forest, Jackson Mountain Quad

Comments: Taking the entire loop from town is a great workout, however, with shuttles the ride can be divided up so one skips the highway or county road portion. There are about three gates on this ride. Remember to leave them either open or closed as you found them. This ride has two river crossings, which are fun and wet. Obviously, take precautions here in the spring or early summer when the water level is up.

Getting there: The loop starts and ends in downtown Pagosa Springs.

0.0 — Starting from the Hot Springs Boulevard bridge in downtown Pagosa Springs ride east toward the pass. Turn left at the Forest Service building, 2nd Street. This street turns into Snowball Road, and eventually the pavement ends. Continue on this graveled county road for 4.3 miles.

4.3 — This is the entrance to Fourmile Ranch. Ranch owners have agreed to allow access to the Forest Service road through the ranch, by proceeding through the entrance and staying on the road. You will pass the ranch manager’s house on the right. Looking to the north, one can begin to see Pagosa Peak.

5.3 — At this point, there is a Y in the road. The road to the left goes to the house and the iron gate to the right gains access to the National Forest. Proceed through the gate on the right, Road 646, leaving the gate as you found it. The next three miles are on a wonderfully pleasant dirt road along Snowball Creek. You will often see and hear hawks close by on the last portion of this trail.

6.3 —At this point you will ford Fourmile Creek.

8.5 — A driveway passes through a gate into private property. Follow the road, which curves to the right to a ford of Snowball Creek.

9.6 — Gate. Proceed through the gate. Go forward and curve to the right joining a more pronounced trail. Next, stay left for a mile, ignoring the roads exiting to the right.

10.7 — Gate. Proceed through the gate. The next .1 mile down to Jackson Mountain Road (FS 037) is very steep.

10.8 — Jackson Mountain Road. Turn right onto the road and proceed for 3 miles to U.S. 160.

13.7 — U.S. 160. Turn right onto the highway and continue for about 8 miles to town. Obviously it is very easy to eliminate this highway ride and shorten the ride by leaving a shuttle here. The highway sign calls this the Jackson Mountain Road.

22 — Downtown Pagosa Springs.

Copies of “Pagosa Springs Mountain Bike Trails” are available at local bike shops and bookstores. A map of Reservoir Hill Mountain Park is available free of charge at local bike shops, courtesy of the Pagosa Springs Recreation Department.

Turkey Springs Double Loop

Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate

Mileage: 14.1 miles

Route: Loop

Trails: Graded and primitive roads, double and singletrack

Elevation Range: 7,600 to 8,100

Maps: National Geographic Trails Illustrated Pagosa Springs-Bayfield No. 145.

Comments: The Turkey Springs Double Loop is a locals’ favorite. Following a “figure eight” configuration with joined north and south loops, the route rolls through gentle terrain at mid-level altitudes. Riding surfaces vary from graveled roads to singletrack. Much of the time is spent on primitive, unmaintained roads, while passing through pine/oak forests and meadows dotted with stands of aspen.

Getting there: From the junction of U.S. 160 with Piedra Road (CR 600), go north on Piedra Road (CR 600) for 6.4 miles. Turn left on the graded Turkey Springs Road (Forest Road 629), which intersects Piedra Road (CR 600) shortly after you pass over a cattleguard. Drive 1.2 miles on Forest Road 629 to Newt Jack Road (Forest Road 923) on your left. Park here and start your ride.

0.0 — Begin your ride continuing west on Turkey Springs Road, Forest Road 629.

2.7 — Turn left onto Brockover Road, Forest Road 919,

3.0 — Look for a faint doubletrack on your left. Take this fun doubletrack as it makes an eastward descent, rolling over waterbars along the way.

4.1 — The doubletrack ends at the bottom of the maintained portion of Newt Jack Road, Forest Road 923. To continue the double loop route, turn right onto the unmaintained extension of Forest Road 923. After a rocky section, with a couple of sharp drops, the road mellows.

5.3 — The road arrives at a marshy pond and a trail forking to your right. Take this trail, leaving Forest Road 923. The trail alternates between single and doubletrack heading south through a shallow draw. The trail courses through a small meadow which is sometimes wet; if so, dismount and walk around the wet and muddy area rather than damage the meadow. After crossing a rocky creek bed, the trail climbs out of the draw to a meadow.

6.3 — The trail now becomes an old doubletrack and heads up through the meadow, swinging to the left, then right, over a small hill. The doubletrack opens into another meadow, passing under an east-west running powerline. Here the route intersects a primitive road.

7.0 — At the primitive road (Brockover Road-Forest Road 919) turn right. Follow Forest Road 919 as it heads west, paralleling the powerline. For the first mile the road is rocky and rutted in places and climbs two steep pitches. Bending north and leaving the powerline, the road mellows while steadily climbing back to the graveled, maintained section of Brockover Road you entered at mile 2.7. Soon after passing through a fence and green gate, the road becomes graded again. Look carefully for the doubletrack, on your right.

10.3 — Take the doubletrack downhill to Newt Jack Road (Forest Road 923), which is intersected at mile 11.4 You have now completed the lower loop of this ride. To complete the upper loop, turn left onto the graded portion of Newt Jack Road, returning to your car at mile 14.1.

Left Hand Canyon to the Rito Blanco

Difficulty: Intermediate

Mileage: 18 miles

Route: Out and back

Trails: Graded and primitive roads, doubletrack (there is not an open ATV trail at this location)

Elevation Range: 7,400 to 8,400

Maps: National Geographic Trails Illustrated South San Juan-Del Norte No. 142.

Comments: Beginning in the pine/oak valleys of Blanco Basin, this route climbs steadily into aspen-fir forest along Porcupine road, ending at the tumbling Rito Blanco Creek. The first half of the ride travels along a mostly smooth, unmaintained primitive dirt road. At the end of this road, a steep and somewhat rocky doubletrack leads you to the top of Lefthand Canyon and onto the graded, maintained Porcupine Creek Road. From here, a moderate climb and descent ends at the Rito Blanco Creek, an excellent spot for a picnic lunch. Your return will be rewarded with an exhilarating descent back to the trailhead. (Note: This trip can be done as a one-way, mostly downhill shuttle — see below.)

Getting there: From the junction of U.S. 160 and U.S. 84, drive south on U.S. 84 for 8.2 miles to Blanco Basin Road, on your left. Drive 3.3 miles up Blanco Basin Road to its junction with Lefthand Canyon Road (Forest Road 011), on your left. Park and start your ride here.

0.0 — Follow the steadily ascending Lefthand Canyon Road as it meanders north through rolling hills of pine, oak and meadow. You will climb about 600 feet to a fork in the road.

1.0 — Take the right fork. The road becomes primitive and less used while winding along a densely vegetated north-facing slope. To the left is Lefthand Canyon, mostly obscured by vegetation and topography. The canyon drains the lower reaches of the Rito Blanco. Look carefully for a doubletrack ascending a hillside meadow on your right.

3.4 — Follow the doubletrack to the top of the meadow. From here a rough doubletrack continues upward, in a northeasterly direction. Take this trail as it climbs over rocks and gullies for almost three-quarters of a mile.

4.4 — The trail ends, exiting onto the southern end of the graded and graveled Porcupine Road (Forest Road 024). The rest of your ride to the Rito Blanco will be on this road. Continue on Porcupine Road as you ascend into the cooler forests of fir and aspen. Reach the high point of the ride at mile 5.8, which also marks a good turn-around spot for tired riders. For those who choose to continue, a cool shady respite awaits those who continue the descent to the banks of the Rito Blanco at mile 9.0.

Ride option: This ride may be done as a shuttle by leaving a car at the junction of Blanco Basin Road and U.S. 84. If you choose to do so, your trailhead then becomes the northern end of Porcupine Road. To get there, you must drive back to Mill Creek Road (County Road 302 which becomes Forest Road 662) located on U.S. 84 one quarter mile south of the U.S. 160/U.S. 84 junction. Drive up Mill Creek Road about nine miles, then take Forest Road 665 which branches to the right. Porcupine Road, Forest Road 024, intersects FR 665 in a little over two miles. Park here and ride. The Rito Blanco is about one mile downhill from here. This ride back to the shuttle car is mostly downhill.

Continental Divide Trail Alberta Peak Loop

Difficulty: Difficult

Mileage: 8.6 miles

Route: Loop

Trails: Singletrack, dirt road, pavement

Elevation Range: 10,800 to 12,000

Maps: National Geographic Trails Illustrated Weminuche Wilderness No. 140

Comments: Following the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) south from Wolf Creek Pass as it circles behind the ski area and around the south face of Alberta Peak, this route has it all: smooth technical single track, challenging ascents and descents, and “top of the world” riding as one emerges from the subalpine forest into the alpine meadows and talus slopes surrounding Alberta Peak. This is a memorable ride for experienced mountain bikers.

Getting there: From the junction of U.S. 160 and U.S. 84, drive north on U.S. 160 for 22 miles to Wolf Creek Pass. Park in the large parking area on the south side of the highway. The ride starts behind the kiosk on the Continental Divide Trail.

0.0 — From the parking area, follow the CDT across the meadow, crossing a headwater tributary of Wolf Creek on a wooden bridge before entering the forest. Now, begin a tough and somewhat technical climb. Stay left after crossing the bridge, ignoring hiker-created trails on your right.

0.4 — The trail switchbacks to the right (a trail on your left climbs into the ski area). Continue following the trail which switchbacks and climbs, often steeply, up the ridge.

1.1— Switchback up a technical, rocky outcrop, leading to a view over a “rock garden” below and to the west. The trail merges into a short section of ski area service road, arriving at the Bonanza Run lift tower.

1.7 — From the lift tower/storage shed, head west 20 or 30 yards — here the trail continues into the forest along the top of the ridge, heading south then east. Emerge from the forest into subalpine meadows (look for a CDT trail post) on the edge of the ski area at mile 2.5.

2.5 — Climbing southeast, the trail tops out then makes a gentle descent to a log drift fence at mile 3.0. Beyond the drift fence, the trail circumvents the south face of Alberta Peak. Here it is narrow with exposure to steep drop-offs. Drop down and around the peak, with a last steep descent to a ski patrol hut at mile 3.4.

3.4 — From here, the trail continues eastward along the lip of the Knife Ridge and its north facing ski chutes. The first 0.2 miles beyond the hut are technical and exposed, but soon the route mellows as the trail wanders over alpine meadows, disappearing and reappearing.

4.0 to 4.2 — The trail veers left through a meadow (the trail disappears briefly, look for CDT trail posts) and back into the forest.

4.3 — Begin a steep drop, passing under the Horseshoe Bowl.

4.4 — Continue your steep descent, passing a narrow saddle with east views at mile 4.8.

4.8 — You now enter a clear-cut area, heading northeast. Look carefully for a CDT trail post and grown-over doubletrack coming into the trail at a sharp angle on your left.

5.2 — Take this doubletrack down to a jeep road. Go right here. The road soon bends west, taking you through the ski area and the ski area parking lots leading to the highway.

7.4 — Route arrives at U.S. 160, turn left onto the highway, returning to your car at mile 8.6.

Willow Draw

Class: Intermediate

Mileage: 16 miles

Scenic loop from U.S. 160 and Colo. 84 junction. Road conditions range from highway to double-track. From downtown Pagosa Springs, ride east on U.S. 160 to the junction of Colo. 84. Turn right onto Hwy. 84 and left onto Mill Creek Road, go four miles. You will cross three cattle guards. Immediately after the third cattle guard, look for a double-track dirt road on your left. If you cross the bridge over Mill Creek, you have gone too far. Once on the double-track, you will immediately cross Mill Creek, which may need to be forded on foot in the spring. Follow this dirt road generally north for the next six miles through Willow Draw and Dry Gulch to Fawn Gulch. Pass through two gates, which are usually closed. (Be sure to leave the gates as you find them.) When you reach Fawn Gulch Road, turn left to a fast downhill to U.S. 160, turn left onto U.S. 160. It is four miles back to Pagosa Springs.

East Fork

Class: Beginner

Mileage: 8 miles

The East Fork Road may be closed for a brief period this summer for repairs. Call the U.S. Forest Service, Pagosa Ranger District at (970)264-2268 to determine its status, before heading there. Easy route for beginners as it is fairly flat. Road follows the East Fork of the San Juan River through beautiful canyons into the pristine East Fork Valley (private property for two miles), before terminating at Silver Falls guard station. Silver Falls can be seen cascading down the mountainside directly behind the guard station. The road is a gravel road from U.S. 160 to the forest boundary (.25 mile), and the rest is dirt, which can be very slick when wet. Watch for high water across the road in the springtime.

Piedra Falls

Class: Beginner/ Intermediate

Mileage: 7.5-11 miles, depending on starting point

Drive 17.8 miles north on Piedra Road (County Road 600/FS 631). Turn on Middle Fork Road (FS 636) to the left of Sportsman’s Supply and Campground. Find parking along Middle Fork Road beyond the private property. From Piedra Road, it is two miles to the junction with East Toner Road (FS 637). Ride East Toner Road about 7.5 miles to its end. There is a single track trail that continues to Piedra Falls. The trail to the falls, about a 15 minute hike, may not be suitable for bicycles.