Boulder County's fresh single-track trails are calling to eager Front Range mountain bikers.
Boulder is one of the world's top cycling towns, but local mountain bikers have long faced an ironic dilemma: To reach quality trails, they had to load their bikes on a car. Most single-track trails in city and county open space have been closed to cyclists since 1983, when open-space managers decided bikes were having an ill effect on the trails and hikers. But recently bike trails began resurfacing on planners' drawing boards, thanks to a winning combination of activism and trail-building volunteerism by the Boulder Mountainbike Alliance. Since 2007, more than 20 miles of single-track have been opened to bikes—and created a collection of superb new rides.
Hikers, runners, and horseback riders share these trails with bikers, so when land managers were looking to design new trails they hired experts from Boulder-based International Mountain Bicycling Association to craft routes with tight turns and rocky obstacles, in order to keep bike speeds reasonable. "Trail design is key to shared use," says IMBA communications director Mark Eller.
The Boulder Mountainbike Alliance hopes to work with open-space planners on a long wish list of additional trails in the near future—including a bikeable link from Eldorado Canyon to Walker Ranch in the foothills, more trails inside the Betasso Preserve (above Four Mile Canyon), and a trail from Boulder to Heil Valley Ranch near Lyons. This summer, construction will ramp up on the Valmont Bike Park, with 45 acres of technical single-track, slopestyle courses, and cyclocross obstacles in northeast Boulder.
Until then, enjoy these three excellent new rides.