Durango Mountain was the site of the first World Mountain Bike Championship and things have just gotten better since. There are loads of additional trails down in Durango, but these are the favorite mountain mountain bike trails of the mountaion locals. All of them are at high altitude, between 9,000 and 13,000 feet above sea level. Always wear a helmet and gloves. Carry water. Be prepared for foul weather. Biking supplies and rentals are available in the summer at Cliffside Sports (970) 385-1461, located at Needle`s Country Square. These rides are listed in order of difficulty.
Hermosa Park Road Downhill
You gotta like this ride. Ride or drive to Durango Mountain Resort, ride the chairlift (Fathers day to Labor Day) to the top of the Twilight Lift and coast back down to the base area for 3 1/2 miles along the dirt road . For a more difficult decent, access the World Trail where it crosses the road, either just above or just below the get off, and hold on to you brakes.
Relay Creek and Cascade Divide Roads
Ride or drive 3 miles up the Hermosa Park Road #578 until you reach the"T" , turn right and go straight ahead 1.7 miles until the road "Y" `s. Park anywhere. Ride left up Relay Creek #580, or right up Cascade Creek #579, as much as 12 miles or however far you want. These are great workouts as they are both slow steady ascends and pleasantly faster descents. Both roads travel through spruce and aspen just below tree line and up Cascade you may have to ford a waterfall or two in early summer. Cascade Divide Road links with the Hermosa Park Road or Molas Pass via the Colorado Trail. For these longer rides, get a topo and some advise at Cliffside Sports.
World Mountain Bike Trail
This seven mile loop begins and ends at the base of Durango Mountain Resort in front of Purgy`s Pub. A mix of short steep climbs moderated by long gradual uphills, this trail takes you on a pretty good tour of the ski mountain crossing Elbert Creek Road both coming and going making it a good access for Cliff Top Park, Elbert Creek Loop or the Hermosa Creek Trail. The World Mountain Bike Championships Course record is under an hour but you can easily spend half a day riding the combination of double track and single track that make up the course.
Elbert Creek Loop
Ride the highway north to Durango Mountain Resort and ride up either the Hermosa Park Road or the World Trail until you get to the Elbert Creek Road (about 3 miles). Turn left and ride up the road 5 miles until you get to Elbert Creek Trail where Elbert Creek passes under Elbert Creek Road, then turn left down the Elbert Creek Traill for 3 miles of screaming downhill back to the highway at Needle`s. Just a mile up to the Lodge from there.
Engineer Mountain Loop
Ride or drive north on US 550 about 8 miles to the top of Coal Bank Pass. Park on the access road on the left just at the corner going down. Climb up the Pass Creek Trail a couple miles to the base of Engineer Mountain. Turn left where the Pass Creek Trail meets the Engineer Mountain Trail just above timberline and jam back down the face of Engineer through spruce, aspen, and meadow. Rejoin 550 just below the truck ramp and pedal 4 quick miles back up to your car.
Hermosa Creek Trail
This world famous 21 mile trek through the forest primeval begins 8 miles up Hermosa Park Road #528 and ends down in Hermosa Colorado at the Railroad Crossing. Best ridden after the snow melt and north to south. Average time is four hours for very good riders, otherwise take a lunch and make it a day. Are you bad? Park at Cliffside Sports, start riding at dawn and make the 50 mile loop back to the Lodge by dark. Otherwise you`ll need to arrange a shuttle. Ask at Cliffside Sports (970)385-1461.
This is the epic ride of the San Juan. Jam 20 miles up Hwy. 550 over Coal Bank to the top of Molas Pass. Hang a left on the Colorado Trail at Little Molas Lake just over the pass and ride the tundra past Jura Knob, past Cascade Divide Road, across Hermosa Park Road a full 30 spectacular miles to a left at Hotel Draw on the Scotch Creek Road. Roll down to the Hermosa Creek Road #578. Turn left and follow the road through the Hermosa Park back to Happy Hour at the Sow`s Ear. Sound tough? It is very tough. Luckily many variations exist. You can bale at Jura Knob and come out on top of Coal Bank Pass or you can bale at Cascade Divide Road or Hermosa Park Road. Get a map and advice before you go.