Two words that can only begin to describe my fantastic ride at Centennial Cone last night. Started out with 5 friends at the new Mayhem Gulch trailhead around 6:15 PM under cloudy skies and blissfully mild temps. After the big climb up (which is surprisingly ridable most of the way by a fat guy like myself) we followed the main loop counterclockwise - first climbing then enjoying the thrill ride-like descent down to the creek. Half of our group were new to Centennial Cone and had mile-wide grins upon reaching the bridge. We climbed, traversed and climbed some more along the narrow singletrack lined with a stellar array of wildflowers in a dazzling variety of colors. Several other groups of riders greeted us like old friends as we rode along, and the clouds parted to bathe the hillside in the golden light of evening.

Upon reaching the craggy nob that marks the midpoint of the loop we stopped all too briefly to drink in the 360 view, as the fading light made urgent our need to continue. More swooping and switchbacked downhill lead us to the appropriately named Evening Sun Loop trail. We were distracted from above and below - a carpet of wildflowers in every shade competed with the purple and orange sunset illuminating the sky.

Our now-tired legs strained up the final climb as the rapidly fading light pushed us onward. Our final reward: over two miles of downhill to the trailhead in the long shadows of twilight. Balancing on the edge of a yawning ravine, the final switchbacks were cautiously navigated and we found ourselves back at the trailhead. As the proverbial icing on the cake, we shared growlers of Mountain Sun beer while recounting the 16+ miles and 2400' of magic we had just enjoyed.

Life is good.