MTB etiquette

The basics of bike etiquette are: Yield to pedestrians and equestrians, stay on the trail, stay in control, be nice to other humans and animals you see on the trail and don't make a mess. But if you want to be really cool you'll check out Boulder Mountainbike Alliance's etiquette page at http://bouldermountainbike.org/content/trail-etiquette.

Boulder is home to national champion mountain bikers like Jessie Vogt and Heather Irmiger. If the best of the best are here, what's stopping you from heading out for a ride in some of Boulder's natural habitat?

If you can only afford one bike, a mountain bike is a good choice because it can double as a commuter bike. Don't forget to wear a helmet, yield to horses and hikers and hey, be nice out there -- when you ride a bike, you're representing everyone who rides a bike.

 

Heil Valley Ranch

Difficulty: Moderate

How to get there: Head north on U.S. 36 for about eight miles, then take a left on Lefthand Canyon Drive and a right on Geer Canyon Drive.

Heil Valley Ranch is home to a network of great mountain bike trails -- Picture Rock Trail, Ponderosa Loop, Wapiti Trail and Wild Turkey Trail. The Lichen Trail, however, is for hiking only -- don't ride it.


Advertisement

It's a somewhat bumpy ride getting there, but the 5.2-mile Picture Rock Trail starts with half a mile of open fields and smooth riding followed by two miles of uphill terrain and then more technical riding. The "picture rock" is a big table made from a rock -- picture rock, to be exact, a type of sandstone quarried in Lyons.

To stay on top of conditions at Heil, follow Ranger Grady, the Heil ranger, on Twitter. twitter.com/RangerGrady.

A mountain biker barrels down the trail at Walker Ranch.
A mountain biker barrels down the trail at Walker Ranch. ( MARK LEFFINGWELL )

 

Walker Ranch

Difficulty: Varies by trail -- easy to difficult.

How to get there: Travel west on Baseline Road, then follow Flagstaff Road southwest for roughly seven miles.

The 2.5-mile Meyers Homestead Trail is moderately difficult, and not very technical. You can take the 0.7-mile Walker Link Trail from Meyers Homestead to the 7.2-mile Walker Ranch Loop, which makes for a nice day of riding.

The Walker Ranch Loop itself is an hour or two-hour ride with a hike-a-bike section at the stairs leading to South Boulder Creek. The views are outstanding, and it's a favorite of local mountain bikers.

Follow Walker Ranch's Ranger Hatfield on Twitter at twitter.com/RangerHatfield to keep an eye on trail conditions.

 

Betasso Preserve

Difficulty: Varies, mostly moderate

How to get there: Head west on Boulder Canyon Drive, then take Sugarloaf Road to Betasso Road

There are miles of mountain bike trails at Betasso, but also a few trails that don't allow bikes, like the Bummers Rock Trail and Blanchard Trail.

Not a Bummer. What's open to bikes is pure fun with good flow -- it was designed that way.

Judy Freeman rides the Canyon Loop Trail at Betasso Preserve.
Judy Freeman rides the Canyon Loop Trail at Betasso Preserve. ( MARTY CAIVANO )

The 3.3-mile Canyon Loop is a good 20-minute ride, but before riding make sure to check the required direction, which changes and is usually marked near the trail. If you're heading counterclockwise on this loop, about a mile in you'll see stunning views of Boulder and CU. This trail, the Loop Link, Benjamin Loop and Fourmile Link are closed to bikes on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

 

Doudy Draw

Difficulty: Varies

How to get there: Head south on Highway 93, then turn left on Eldorado Springs Drive.

We like Doudy Draw because it's fun to say. Try saying it aloud -- just rolls of the tongue. We also like it for the cows that you can usually see when riding Community Ditch Trail.

The actual Doudy Draw Trail is a 6.8-mile stretch that connects to the Flatirons Vista Trailhead. Here you'll see the flat beauty of the Eastern Plains mesh with the ecosystem of the foothills. At dawn and dusk, watch for bears in this area -- especially if you ride the Spring Brook trails, which form a fast-and-fun loop on the edge of the foothills forest.

 

Marshall Mesa

Difficulty: Easy

How to get there: Head south on Highway 93, then take a left on Marshall Road and make an immediate right into the parking lot.

The Marshall Mesa area is a great place to take beginners. These mellow trails coast through wide-open plains southeast of Boulder. Three trails -- the Marshall Valley, Community Ditch and Coal Seam trails -- form a 3.3-mile loop through this area, where you'll see mule deer, coyote, prairie dogs and maybe even bald eagles, depending on the time of year, all against the backdrop of the Flatirons.

Do laps or zigzag back through to add miles, and smile -- it's awesome.

 

--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.