Emerald Valley

The first few miles of this trail is exceptional singletrack. It gets very narrow and after some smooth flowy stuff, there are some challenging rock moves. The woods are beautiful and there are occasional views of notches in the mountains and the prairie beyond as well as fantastic rock formations. There are ponderosas, firs, and great aspen stands. After a few miles, the trail turns to doubletrack. If you’re a singletrack purist, turn around and enjoy the ride back to the car. If you don’t mind riding some gravel-laden doubletrack, continue on. The scenenry gets even better and there are wildflowers everywhere. After about 3.5 miles, the “trail” heads straight up the side of a very steep mountain following the pipeline. It is possible to do a loop here, but be warned, it gets dicey. First, you will hit a good mile of the most brutally steep, bottomless gravel hike-a-bike you can imagine. Your reward for the slog up the hill will be trying to find your way back to Gold Camp Road on trails that are not marked and seem to peter out in the most inconvenient places. Bring a map and/or GPS, know how to use them, and be prepared for a longer-than-expected outing with some difficult route finding and most likely some bushwacking. Once you find Gold Camp Road Follow it downhill to Old Stage to 371 and back to the start. If you do decide to try the loop, you may want to consider doing it in reverse–there will still be a lot of route finding, but there will be less hike-a-bike.

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