Boulder County's fresh single-track trails are calling to eager Front Range mountain bikers.
The Dirty Bismarck
Distance 15 miles
Skill Level Beginner
Trailhead Marshall Mesa, southeast corner of Highway 93 and Highway 157
The Morgul Bismarck was a famous 13-mile circuit stage of the Red Zinger and Coors Classic bike races in the '70s and '80s. (Greg LeMond and Davis Phinney raced it, among others.) Now, just as traffic and commercial development in Superior have tainted the road loop's allure, a mountain-biking alternative is close to being completed. Cyclists can ride all but about three miles of the 15-mile "Dirty Bismarck" on single-track trails and dirt roads; the final off-pavement links are slated to be completed this year.
Follow the single-track Marshall Draw Trail east, across short patches of slickrock, to the Cowdrey Draw Trail, which contours hillsides to 66th Street. Follow the paved road to the right until it turns to dirt after a third of a mile and reaches West Coal Creek Drive; take this dirt road northeast until you're nearly to Superior, then wind around the south end of town on the dirt Singletree Trail. The east end of this trail dead-ends before you reach McCaslin Boulevard, but a quick jog to the right on a dirt road will get you up to the main road. Follow McCaslin south over the sharp hill they called "The Hump" in the Morgul-Bismarck days to reach a traffic light and the Coalton Trail parking on the right. (New trails soon will bypass the dirt and paved roads between Cowdrey Draw Trail and Coalton Trail.) Climb the double-track Coalton Trail west, and then veer south past a vantage point with great views of the Flatirons, the Indian Peaks, and Longs Peak. Connect with the brand-new High Plains Trail, which glides mostly downhill for nearly 2.5 miles. From the Greenbelt Plateau trailhead, follow double-track back north, over a small hill, to reach the Community Ditch. Head left until you've nearly reached Highway 93, and then descend the fun Coal Seam Trail to the car.
It's harder to describe this loop than it is to ride it—the mostly smooth paths and modest climbs make this a great outing for fit beginners.
Bonus Miles At the Greenbelt Plateau trailhead, cross Highway 93 and follow the Flatirons Vista North and Doudy Draw trails down to Community Ditch. Return along the irrigation ditch to the Coal Seam Trail and the car, adding five scenic miles to the loop.