Green Mountain Colorado Mountain Biking – ‘The Sluice’ at Floyd Hill, Colorado drops 700 vertical feet over 1.3 miles. This gives the Denver metro area easy access to a free mountain bike trail for the first time.
The Colorado Mountain Biking Association (COMBA) celebrated the grand opening of the trail, known as “The Sluice,” on Wednesday. Also known by the less lyrical name “Segment 4,” the 1.3-mile, bike-only downhill is just 30 minutes from downtown Denver.
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The trail, built specifically for bicycles on public land in Clear Creek County, is the first of its kind in the Colorado Front Range, a thriving region that covers the mountains of western Denver.
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Sluice has jumps, berms, drops, descents, uphills and technical rock lines to challenge experienced riders. Several other optional lines offer riders more challenging route options.
Riders float along a line on Sluic, the first track on the Front Range to feature jumps; Photo courtesy: Jason Holsworth
COMBA has classified the main tunnel corridor as a blue square/black diamond. Other lines vary in difficulty from Black Diamond to Double Black Diamond. I-70, Colorado’s largest mountain artery, drops 700 feet in the background.
“We look forward to presenting these ideas and experiences on the trails to Front Range audiences to increase support for the implementation of alternative trail systems in nearby areas,” said Executive Director Gary Moore. “It’s important to have this public support to allow land managers to make difficult and bold changes in their routes.”
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Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and other small cities make up the Front Range urban corridor. About 5 million people live in the area, so mountains near popular access points attract a lot of interest. Just half an hour from Denver, Sluice offers cyclists an alternative to nearby downhill skiing in Winter Park.
“Designed and built by FlowRide Trail Concepts, Sluice offers a previously unavailable experience in the region without purchasing a lift pass in a mountain bike park on the slopes. COMBA says the demand is clear,” noted a press release about the opening. COMBA raised more than $38,000 to design and build The Sluice.
“Everyone was excited about the custom-built features on the lower course, and the consensus was that there is nothing like it anywhere else on the Front Range,” said Clear Creek County Trails Director, James Covalley. “It looks like the hard work of many people over the past 3 months has paid off big. It was truly a public-private partnership.
The ditch is part of the Floyd Hill system. It currently offers 6 miles of versatile trail, with more planned or under construction. Land managers expect the network to be about 12 miles long when complete. Among the upcoming projects for Comba is Virginia Canyon Mountain Park in Idaho Springs, which will feature several bike-only downhill runs, as well as multi-track and bi-directional trails. The city of Idaho Springs also approved plans for a gondola to access the trail at the top of the canyon. Argo Mill will pay to build the elevator.
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“We work with trail users and land managers to find the best balance between conservation and recreation to maintain a healthy Colorado landscape,” Moore said.
So if you live in Denver like many of us, you have another reason to be shocked. Grab your bike and ride up the mountain! First, check for I-70 traffic. I moved to Durango, Colorado in 2012 to pursue my master’s degree at Fort Lewis College and pursue my dream of professional mountain biking. Even then, I had a feeling that no matter where my racing career took me, the little mountain town would always be my home. Simply put, the Four Corners region of the American Southwest where Durango is located is an outdoor playground unlike any other. It seems our leaders agree to preserve an incredible piece of land within a five-hour radius as a national park or a national monument.
The Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde National Parks and many stunning national monuments highlight the diverse and rugged landscape. Whether you’re a kayaker, climber, skater, runner, mountain biker, or any other type of outdoor enthusiast, chances are you’re running out of time before you run. Besides mountains and canyons to explore. I am often asked where my favorite place in the world is, and my answer is always the same: home.
One of the benefits of training for hours and hours throughout the year is that you can cover a lot of distance. I have not found a better way to discover my corner of the world than by bicycle. I love showing my out-of-town friends my favorite rides in the area. Their inventory reminds me how lucky I am to never have to bring this stuff home. So I thought I’d put together an “Ultimate MTB Road Trip” for you all. It includes five of my favorite destinations and some off-bike attractions. With eight hours and a total of 440 miles of driving, you can take a loop through the San Juan Mountains and see the best the region has to offer. I love cycling in faraway lands, but this ride in my own backyard is my idea of the ultimate singles vacation.
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One of the things that makes this area so special is its remote location. The closest major cities are Albuquerque, Denver and Salt Lake City, but they are all between three and six hours away. The largest airports in the cities on this list are located in Durango and Grand Junction. Flying into Albuquerque gives you more flight options, but adds some driving.
This road trip is my favorite area to ride, but if I had to pick one place to ride for the rest of my life, it would still be my hometown of Durango. It is difficult to describe the range and the various roads that lead out of the city. A few years ago, a racing friend and I decided to ride all the “city tracks”. After 8 hours, 80 miles, 14,000 feet of climbing, we ran out of daylight. We promised to try again with better planning, but admittedly failed halfway.
Geographically, because Durango sits where the high desert meets the alpine mountains and exhibits the greatest geological diversity in the country, there are trails of all kinds – from sage brush, red rock Horse Gulch to the iconic black loom with a tree trunk. Colorado Trail. The city’s storied racing history has helped foster the health and development of its track system, and countless racing legends like Ned Overend, Greg Herbold and Ruthie Mathes still call Durango home. You can easily kill weeks here and never run the same route twice. You can head to Horse Gulch or Overand Mountain Park for a smoother, more flowing option, then Dalla Mountain Park, Ryder Ridge or Goody’s Rest for more challenging terrain.
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is one of the main attractions and is a fun ride for the whole family. Every May, it’s part of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, when 3,500 serious cyclists race one-way from Durango to Silverton over two 10,000-foot passes (you ride like that. The road to your next riding destination).
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Carver Brewing Company serves an award-winning breakfast and offers lunch and dinner options as well as gold medal specialty brews. They are big supporters of the cycling community, and you can see framed jerseys of the city’s most skilled cyclists. Cantera is an upscale fun option with authentic Mexican food and a wicked house margarita.
One hour north of the Million Dollar Highway (the same route as the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic) is the small historic mining town of Silverton, Colorado. Nestled in a spectacular mountain basin at an elevation of 9,300 feet, Silverton has a unique “hard scrabble” feel – an authentic remnant of mining glory. In the high mountains above Silverton, you’ll find the shortest but most rewarding section of the 300-mile Colorado Trail. For 80 miles, this iconic trail climbs and passes above and below the tree line. Although the lack of oxygen makes riding very difficult, the San Juan High Country is a bucket list experience for anyone who loves trails. Move to the top of Molasses Pass (back to Durango), then pick your poison – Engineer Mountain Trail, Cascade Creek or Black Hawk, the options are many. If you don’t take a shuttle, keep in mind that the return trip will be longer back to the Molass Pass trailhead as you descend CT before descending to Highway 550.
Another word to the wise: Colorado’s monsoons run like clockwork in the middle of summer. It is advisable to start early and get out into the high country before an afternoon storm. Almost lightning and hail
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