Boulder County's fresh single-track trails are calling to eager Front Range mountain bikers.
Picture Rock Trail
Distance 15 miles
Skill Level Intermediate
Trailhead Red Gulch Road in Lyons, off Old St. Vrain Road. Park in public lots in Lyons (five minutes away by bike) if the trailhead lot is full.
This killer new trail on the north side of Heil Valley Ranch climbs about 1,000 feet above the southern outskirts of Lyons. The 5.5-mile climb was built for mountain biking, with long switchbacks, banked hairpin turns, and sandstone ramps over big rocks and roots—and there are plenty of technical obstacles to keep things interesting. The route begins in grassy meadows and winds through stands of ponderosa and juniper, and over twisting creek beds. Midway through the climb, you'll pass a large silo and stone foundation, and then ride over the slickrock floor of an old quarry. The ride is increasingly rocky and challenging toward the top—intermediate riders may find they put a foot down now and then.
When the Picture Rock Trail ends, follow the Wild Turkey Trail to the left for a loop with superb views of Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak, returning along the St. Vrain canyon rim. Rejoin the Picture Rock Trail and enjoy a well-earned ride down the mountain—just watch out for hikers and uphill riders as you roll through blind curves.
Bonus Miles Park at the south end of Heil Valley Ranch (take Lefthand Canyon Road to Geer Canyon Road), and climb the rocky 2.5-mile Wapiti Trail, and then descend along the Wild Turkey and Picture Rock trails. Follow paved Old St. Vrain Road west to Hall Ranch, and ride the nine-mile lollipop loop there. Return the way you came for a total of nearly 40 miles of technical climbing and descents—a solid day for any rider.
Dougald MacDonald is a contributing editor for 5280. E-mail him at email@example.com.