Three Time Mountain Bike Olympian/Fourteen time National Champion
As a twenty-year resident of Durango, I can tell you we have some of the best riding you’ll find anywhere. If you a rider, and road or mountain bike, take advantage of some of our spectacular scenery and get a great workout. I’m going to let you in on two of my favorite rides, one road and one off road.
Durango is known as one of the premier outdoor towns in the world. One of the big draws is cycling. You don’t have to be a serious cyclist to enjoy my favorite road ride, known by locals simply as “the valley”. The valley is a loop that you can start from anywhere in town but going clockwise you take HWY 550 to CR 203. 203 parallels 550 heading north on the west side of the highway. It eventually runs back into HWY 550 and you continue heading north towards Purgatory for another three or four miles.
Just before you start climbing, make a right onto CR 250 and head back to town on the east side of HWY 550. Shortly after the run you’ll cross Baker’s Bridge. This is a favorite hang out in the summer and you will see people sunning themselves on the rocks below the bridge or even jumping off into the cool Animas River. You will follow the river most of the way back to town. CR 250 will eventually tee into Florida road and you can turn right and that will drop you back off in downtown a few gradual downhill miles later.
No valley loop is complete without a stop at Bread bakery located at the intersection of CR 250 and Florida road. They have the tastiest cookies in town and some great cappuccinos too. This ride is less than thirty miles and mostly flat. You usually have to deal with a head wind coming back but if you do it in the clockwise direction you will be somewhat sheltered by the looming red rock cliffs.
Now that you’ve knocked the cobwebs out of the legs after the trip to Durango it’s time to tackle what we’re famous for, mountain biking. Durango is known for hosting the first ever Mountain Bike World Championship at the Purgatory ski resort back in 1990. Trails 2000 is the local advocacy group responsible for building and maintaining the hundreds of miles of trails easily accessed with a short pedal from downtown.
One of my favorite rides is some variation of the Colorado Trail. The CO Trail runs all the way from Denver to Durango but for this ride we’ll be sticking close to Durango and riding about twelve miles.
You start from downtown by riding the bike path to 25th street. You head west on 25th and that road becomes Junction Creek road. As soon as the road turns to dirt, two or three miles the Colorado trailhead is on the left. The trail follows Junction Creek before crossing it and starting the long climb up to Gudy’s rest. Stop to take in the view of town from the high pines before continuing on for a few hundred yards. At this first trail intersection you will turn left onto Hoffheins Connect and it’s all downhill from here. You will enjoy some swoopy single track through the forest before coming to another trail intersection and making another left onto the bottom of the Dry Fork trail. This trail has more of the same but all too soon you’re at the trailhead. Turn right on the dirt road at the trailhead and continue downhill until you tee into a pavement road. Turn left and you will tee into HWY 160 in a few minutes. Another left turn will bring you the couple of gradual downhill miles on 160 back into downtown. You can jump on the bike path right before you tee into HWY 550 if you want to avoid the traffic and finish up along the Animas River. This ride has a substantial amount of climbing, probably two thousand feet, but usually takes me about one hour and thirty minutes and is entirely single track. Many new trails have popped up since I moved to town but this one has always been a staple of the system.
The reservation staff at Durango Colorado Vacations can find the perfect vacation rental for you and your family right on some of the best biking routes available. I use their properties for my high altitude training and find them extremely friendly and knowledgeable. Give them a call!