Colorado Springs offers scenic mountain biking
Published: Sunday, September 18, 2011
Updated: Monday, September 19, 2011 09:09
UCCS sociology professor and mountain biking enthusiast Rick Dukes has done his fair share of mountain biking. From the famed slick rock trails near Moab, Utah, to the scenic mountain trails of Breckenridge, Dukes has ridden what many consider the best trails in America.
Despite this, Dukes still says that he would not trade Colorado Springs mountain biking for anywhere else, "because we have the most variety in our trails."
Colorado Springs does, indeed, have a little something for everyone, from the novice to experienced rider.
With hundreds of miles of trails meandering through town, there may be few cities that have as many trails as Colorado Springs. For beginning mountain bikers, this extensive trail system is an excellent introduction to the sport.
One of the most accessible trails in the Colorado Springs system is the Santa Fe Trail. Running from the Fountain Creek Nature Center to Palmer Lake, the Santa Fe Trail (also known as the Pikes Peak Greenway) is a smooth, wide, multi-use trail that offers riders great views along its length.
Other notable beginner rides in the area include trails in Red Rocks Park and Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
Perhaps the most complete mountain biking trail in the Colorado Springs area is the Falcon Trail, located on the grounds of the Air Force Academy. With its long descents and equally long climbs, this 12-mile loop trail slices its way through scenic forest and open grassland.
A sprinkling of short technical sections is a nice addition that keeps riders on their toes. Before planning a trip to the Falcon Trail, however, make sure to first check that the trail is open, as it is often closed for security reasons.
For riders seeking a challenge, Palmer Park may be the most obvious choice. Located within close proximity of UCCS, Palmer Park is a labyrinth of other-worldly rock formations and sweeping views.
Using a similar rating system to ski slopes (green for easy, blue for intermediate, black for advanced) riders can easily gauge the difficulty of the trails by taking a quick glance at the trail marker.
These trails wind their way throughout the entire park, offering nearly an unlimited amount of different rides possible.
Beginning mountain bikers who are new to Palmer Park might take one look at its minefield of rocks and see a busted noggin waiting to happen, or they might assume that Palmer Park is an excellent place to get a bike walking workout.
After all, the hills are steep and the rocks are many. While Palmer Park can be a great place to walk your bike (the Edna Mae Bennett trail, for example), there are also trails that cater to riders of all abilities.
To enter Palmer Park's wide variety of trails, riders can begin at any of four trailheads: Yucca Flats, Sentinel Point, Council Grounds or North Canyon.
Each of these trailheads offers access to at least one beginner trail. For those looking for the best views, the North Canyon Trailhead, and specifically, the aptly named Grandview trail, is a good choice.
With so many different trail options, though, it is hard not to enjoy the vast riches of Palmer Park. Whether you are looking for downhill runs, rocky technical runs or a combination of both, you will not be disappointed.
Although mountain biking can be potentially expensive, the UCCS Recreation Center has a remedy to fix this problem: a Bike Share program that allows students to rent bikes, helmet, locks and a tool kit free for up to 10 days each semester.
Mountain biking can be a great way to unwind and enjoy the natural world that surrounds us. So as this school year marches on, take a break, strap on a helmet and hit the trails, because in Colorado Springs, there truly is something for everyone.