Ring the Pike (RTP) trail is a system of hiking trails that either have been or are being linked to form a continuous loop around Pike’s Peak. The entire loop is not yet 100% complete in terms of linked hiking trails. However for the mtb bike rider it is possible to ride all the way around the peak using the finished RTP sections and adding a few road sections to close up the loop.
See “Friends of The Peak” web site for up-to date information on the trail, official section by section info etc http://fotp.com
Personally I have been bitten by the endurance bug, Leadville 100, Durango 100, KTR, etc. Doing the entire RTP loop in a single unsupported ride is my perfect, close to home, “test bed” for long endurance riding/training. Great for trying long ride nutritional strategies, light weight lighting systems, new components etc etc
Post your ride, Post your times, Post your life away:
Chime in if you have already done the loop, your experiences, recommendations and thoughts. Oh and how long did it take? I think a strong intermediate level rider could do the loop as I have described it in about 10-12 hours. Expert level rider, maybe 7-9 hours? Less?
If you haven’t ridden this loop yet, plan it and do it, you will be glad you did (maybe) and share your experience with a post here.
I have now done the loop twice. My first ride around the peak was a huge (19 hr, 20 min) misadventure/learning experience, see earlier post at thread: pikes peak trails?
Second time around was for me the perfect all day mtn bike ride (14hr, 13 min), will post it here soon.
Route Description, Endurance Mtb Ride of the RTP loop (in six easy pieces):
Note: I feel half the fun of a ride like this is getting out your maps and figuring out on your own the path you will take so I am not going to include every detail but more than enough to get you started. I am also including a few trail hints. You will want a map the first time you do the loop. Have fun, I did.
Section 1: Itermann Trail to Ute Trail
Ride the loop in a CCW direction. Start some where on the Itermann trail, your choice; you can access the trail from numerous points some with parking. Hey this 1st section is a cool urban trail; you will like it if you like something a little different from the usual mtb trail. (Hint 1, the Itermann trail is broken in two due to an access issue, however on your bike this is not a problem as you can just ride around the trail break and stay legal) Follow the Itermann trail and the RTP signs to the next section that starts at Ruxton Creek/Ave.
Section 2: Ute Pass Trail to Chipita
(Hint 2, yes yes the Ute Pass TH with official RTP signs really is here, have fun finding it the first time) Ride (and push) up this oh so fun, Not, section till the last RTP sign directs you down a steep gravel road to the “big gate”, slip under the “big gate” cross Hwy 24 to the Waldo Canyon parking lot and ride 8-10 min up Hwy 24 to the stop light, turn left off 24 and then up the road to Picabo Rd inChipita Park
Section 3: Mt Ester Trail to Fourmile Creek ;
Ride up and up and up Picabo Rd to the Mt Ester TH. Did you ride or push that last steep pavement? Too bad if you burned a big match riding the steep pave, you might just regret that later in the day. (Hint 3 at the top of Picabo Rd, when you see dirt you are oh so close to Mt Ester TH) Now, can you carry your bike on your shoulder? If not you will soon wish you could. The next 20 to 30 min. includes some steep hike a bike to the top of the ridge. Once you reach the top of the ridge just follow the RTP signs to the end of this section, here be some fun single track that I bet you CS riders haven’t ridden before. ST, Fire Rd, Gravel Rd, ST repeat till up past N Catamount Lake, over a ridge with a steep climb and then down more fun ST that drops you down to Fourmile Creek/RD. Ride to the end of Fourmile Rd, (go past the Crags Campground turn off), to start the next Section.
Section 4: End of Fourmile Rd to Walters Tunnel/Hwy 67
This section starts at the turn around at the end of Fourmile Rd. Please DO NOT go straight and cross the old fence line onto private land to get into Putney Gulch drainage but rather use the old/new trail to the right. Follow trail to the right, it by-passes the private land. This short by-pass is currently being re-done and re-signed by FOTP, Three cheers for those FOTP Volunteers, http://fotp.com FOPT were in the process of laying down a neat section of ST when I stumbled across them (I claim first mtb tracks on this new by-pass section ). Their short by-pass might be finished and signed by the time you read this or it might not be. Use your map and don’t cross private land (Hint 4, if this by- pass is not yet done and signed the new ST can be accessed from the top of the saddle, you will understand when you get to it) Once in Putney Gulch follow the RTP signs down then up the big climb ( lots of newer switch backs so you can ride it, more cheers for some earlier trail volunteers/workers)) followed by a really fun down hill on the other side to Horsethief Park.. After the creek crossing you have a choice to make.
Choice 1 is to turn left after the creek crossing and continue following the RTP signs and trail up to Pancake Rocks (great view from Pancake rocks by the way). However the RTP trail currently dead ends here(if you know how to hike down to Hwy 67 without CROSSING private land this way may be a suitable choice for you, however I am not sure it can be done without crossing private land so I skipped this dead end section on my last ride and did choice 2.…
Choice 2 is to turn right after the creek crossing and follow Horsethief trail down to the TH at Walters Tunnel/Hwy 67 and start the next section.
Section 5: Walters Tunnel to FSR # 379 (Off the RTP Trail)
Ride Hwy 67 to Hwy 81 to Gold Camp Rd to FSR 376, just look at your map. Hwy 67 is a busy road but after you reach 81 the traffic is gone and good old gravity kicks in to up your speed. Did your ‘average miles per hour’ just go way up on this section? Mine sure did. Turn up FSR 376 and climb climb climb this smooth gravel road to the RTP sign at the start of FSR 379. Note: If you can ride up 376 the whole way without a little rest/walk/push break then pat your self on the back, no pats for me.
Section 6: FSR 379 back to your Car/Starting Point
Hey you are now back on the official RTP trail. This is fun fun fun section(s) but before the fun begins you must first push/carry/pull your tired body and heavy bike for about 20-25 min up nasty old FSR 379 (tore up jeep trail at the start) to the top of the ridge before the fun begins. This joyous little hike a bike portion at high altitude is where you might regret burning that match earlier in the day. Now just follow the RTP signs all the way home. 379 to Frosty Park, down trail 668 to Pipeline to Bear Creek to Palmer trail to the Itermann trail. (Hint 5: After Bear Creek/trail 666 dumps you out on to the one-way High Drive gravel road its easy to miss the turn off to Palmer Trail. This TH is just a little two car parking area on your left as you fly down High Drive, I don’t want you to miss it because then you miss the last little bitty climb.) Now just ride back to your car/home and have some ice cold chocolate milk.
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