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  1. #1
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    Week in Durango Review

    Just got back from my 6th riding vacation to Durango and here's my thoughts of what we rode for anyone else planning to go there. We had a large group of folks who all race XC ranging in age from 12 to 62. From Cat 1's down to roadies from the team on their first mtb adventure.

    Day One; Twin Buttes. Thanks to the locals who suggested it, my first time. We left from the Hwy 160 parking lot behind the gas station, construction forced you straight up the lower eastern loops. We made it to the top I think sticking to the eastern side then came back down the same way due to the approaching rainstorm. Great flow, climbing not too hard, great scenery. Can't wait until construction is done and we can ride the whole loop.
    Day Two: Phil's World. As much as it pains me to say this I don't think we'll go back next year. It started out three years ago as one of my alltime favorites, but every time we've been there someone gets lost, this year was my turn. 4 others and myself decided to take the Stinky Cutoff to save time as we were getting short on water. What appears on the trail map to be a straightforward jeeproad shortcut isn't marked anywhere once you get on it. We passed over numerous jeeproad crossings and a couple singletrack crossings, none of which are marked. After a couple of dead ends we finally got to the Rib Cage but even after that we stopped to question ourselves a couple of times before finally getting back to the parking lot. I like the trail itself, but it needs better marking, and its distance from Durango seems longer each time we make the drive.
    Day Three: Horse Gulch. Started at the trailhead in town, took the Telegraph Trail to the top. Started descending on the Crites Connect to Sidewinder, then Cowboy Trail to Big Canyon. Last year we took the Carbon Junction down, so this was a little longer, Big Canyon was really fun. We made our way from there to the paved trail to the BMX park. Had our first major casualty there, 16 year old kid broke his collarbone playing on the jumps. Took him to the Durango Surgical Center ER right across the river and after X-rays and drugs got him on a flight back home within a couple of hours. He was way more bummed about missing out on more riding than he was about the broken bone.
    Day Four: CO Trail via Junction Creek TH. Headed up to Gudy's, then Hoffheins Connector to the Dry Fork climb. Descended back on the CO trail, then back to TH the way we came. I have done this trail every year and will never tire of it. Beautiful scenery, well designed switchbacks, a true classic CO trail.
    Day Five: Weather looked sketchy when we woke up. We had intended to shuttle to the top of Hermosa Creek. Instead we took a van trip up to Silverton while four of our hardiest souls rode their mtbs on 550 from our rented house to Molas Pass, 70 miles roundtrip. The four's ages were 12, 17, 45, and 57. Hardcore. The sun had come out in the afternoon so the rest of us rode Hermosa Creek from the bottom up, a 14 mile out and back. Hermosa to me is the most beautiful trail in the area, another I will always want to go to. Riding from the bottom trailhead is fun, but one of these days I'll finally get in the whole thing from the top.

    Great trip, I never get tired of the area. Logistically we came in one team van and one rented van, rented a house in the Dalton Golf Club area, and including driving straight through both ways did it in seven days from Houston. Can't wait for next year.


  2. #2
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    Reputation: ameybrook's Avatar
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    I swear I saw all of you on Telegraph today at 12:30.


    Why would you own 100 Yugos when you could own 1 Porsche? - Rumpfy



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ameybrook View Post
    I swear I saw all of you on Telegraph today at 12:30.
    Not us, but maybe one of us. One of the young men on our team is entering Ft Lewis this fall. He stayed after us to mentor at a NICA High School camp being held this week, you could have seen him and maybe some others in our kit.

  4. #4
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    Looks like fun. My wife and I are going to be in Durango for a few days next month. She's new to the sport and I'd like to take her on a few "pretty rides". What trails are best for scenery but not too technical in that area?

  5. #5
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    Out of the ones I described, I would say Phil's World has the most rocky, ledge/dropoffs "technical" riding, not hard for a seasoned rider but might be tougher for a newbie. The prettiest scenery would have to be Hermosa Creek followed by the CO Trail. Both have some rock/roots but mostly hardpack. The hardest part on flat-landers is the climbing and altitude, the trails themselves are so well designed that most anyone can ride them.

  6. #6
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    Hermosa Creek is good for a relative new comer to the sport (probably not her first week of riding though). It's buff singletrack, although it is a longer ride from a newbies standpoint I think around 20+ miles. A lot of more down the up, but it is an XC ride that does have climbing.

    If you are coming from sea level, I recommend a day or 2 in town, then go higher to adjust. I wouldn't jump up to Molas obviously (up to 12K) on day one unless you are adjusted to altitude. Hermosa isn't as bad though, that is "lower elevation" for the area (8-9K?). Some good views in town can be found at the top of Horse Gulch (Telegraph), Gudy's rest (last section of CO Trail), and even in the Test Tracks (Overand bike parK) there is a good cement block that overlooks town after Ned's hill on the east side of the trails.

    But in all reality, none of those views compare to Molas, Blackhawk, Engineer Mountain trail, or Kennebec. Next time, you should get into the high country. That's where it is really at. Especially when its this hot. Probably not recommended for a newbie.

  7. #7
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    Start in town, try the Twin Buttes Ride, there's some excellent views over Durango from the top. If your wife is not in to tech riding, DON'T take her to Phils' - she's likely to become frustrated. Horse Gulch up to the top of Telegraph is nice too.

    For high country epic views, Engineer Mountain Trail is relatively quick ride, and pretty easy as far tech goes. You will be breathing hard though, but even you end up hike-a-biking to the top, it will be worth the view.
    Airborne Flight Crew

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  8. #8
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    Thanks guys. That's what I was looking for. I'm sure we'll have a good time. I ride a lot, her about 2 times a months, but she can handle 20 miles. Even if we have to hike a bike here and there, it'll be fun. I'm curious how I'll feel at altitude. I live in Dallas, so it'll be different for sure.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ds1bush9 View Post
    Next time, you should get into the high country. That's where it is really at. Especially when its this hot. Probably not recommended for a newbie.
    This is where our preferences differ. While I can appreciate the beauty of high country views (and we almost always take in a bit of that by car and/or hiking), I prefer riding the beautiful wooded singletrack that abounds in the area. And your weather last week was absolutely mild to us who have to suffer through 100degree/high humidity summers. I'm sure if I lived there I would eventually take in all of the different varieties of trail.

  10. #10
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    I laughed a bit when I looked up the temps there. I thought, maybe it's hot? I see that Denver can be up there sometimes when I see a national temp map. I'm about to go ride 30 miles of single track at 101*. Heat index higher than that. But I will ride the same trail in Jan when it's 60* too.

  11. #11
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    I'm shocked about your comments about Phils in regards to signage but I think it has the best signage of any place I've ever ridden. That being said, I've never found the need to leave single-track to take a Jeep trail there. If you want to see some poor signage, and the worst I've ever experienced, head up to the Oakridge area in Oregon. The other areas we just rode around the McKenzie River Trail area weren't much better either. The signage sucks but the scenery is literally unbelievable in Oregon.

    Other than that, I agree with you about Hermosa Creek and the Colorado Trail via Junction Creek. Just a couple of my easy access favorites there.

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