Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Nederland -> Winter Park -> Boulder

Since starting to ride consistently two years ago, I've wanted to ride from Nederland to Winter Park and then back to Boulder. Two years ago we rode from Ned over to Winter Park via the Jenny Creek trail and the Guinn Mountain Cabin trail. Those trails were really punishing to ride up, and I will never do that again.

After a couple of years of exploring, Ethan and I came up with a route with less biking/walking through trails covered in bowling ball like rocks. The day started at 6:50 at the Boulder bus station, by 7:45 we were on our bikes in Ned.


From there we followed Eldora Road to the Shelf Road to Eldora Ski Area. Following the summer maintenance roads, we were at the top of the front side an hour after getting on our bikes in Ned. Looking east into the morning haze:


Next, we jumped on Xcel's pipeline trail which we would follow until meeting Rollins Pass Road above Yankee Doodle Lake. 15 minutes later we reached the western edge of the ski area.


James Peak to the south:


Once past the ski area, the pipeline trail becomes a single track or bushwhack, and the going gets much slower:


As we neared treeline, the beautiful James Peak Wilderness and Yankee Doodle Lake came into view:


Two hours after leaving Ned, a short hike-a-bike brought us to the Rollins Pass Road; South Arapahoe to the North:


At this point the road splits until the summit of Rollins Pass, last time we rode here we made the mistake of taking the southern route, it's essentially two miles of climbing through a scree field. The northern route, on the other hand, is smooth and crosses over the cool old train trestles:


45 minutes of above treeline double track and 2:45 after leaving Ned, we were at the top of Rollins Pass. Skyscraper looking icy:


With dark clouds already building to the west, we quickly headed towards Winter Park, following the road until we reached treeline. Then we jumped onto some random unmarked moto trails:


Several years ago a friend of mine tried to ride from Ned to Winter Park, instead ending up in Tabernash, I thought this was ridiculous. But, after miles of following this trail away from WP I started to wonder if the same thing would happen to us.


Fortunately, after some thoroughly complicated directions "home" from a rather confused hiker, we ended up on the outskirts of Frasier. And, were soon eating a quick lunch in Winter Park. The weather was still holding, so we started the long grind up the Rollins Pass road:


After two hours of punishment we reached treeline, things looked mellow enough:


That soon changed:


For the next hour and a half we huddled under the decaying trestle...would we drown, freeze or be electrocuted?


Thankfully, it stopped:


With more angry clouds and lightning to the west we jumped on our bikes and headed east; the Frasier Valley:


Retracing our route from the morning we made it back to the Arestua Hut before the rain started again:


From there we followed the Guinn Mountain Cabin trail towards Jenny Creek. This trail is actually pretty awesome, starting in some very pacific northwest-esque trees, followed by a steep descent before meeting the heinous Jenny Creek trail/streambed. 


After a jarring ride down the Jenny Creek Trail we arrived back at Lake Peterson, jumped on a great descent...


...and immediately got a pinch flat:



No mechanical problems in 10 hours, not bad! Back in Nederland, we followed the usual network of trails, roads, and streambeds to Sugarloaf, Betasso, and then Boulder Canyon. It rained the whole way:

We made it back to Boulder by 8:15 PM; 12.5 hours, 75 miles, 7,000 ft of climbing, and 10,000 ft of descending after starting from Nederland in the morning.

What an adventure! I have no plans to do this ride again in the near future, but I'm sure I'll do it again, especially once we find some better descents down both sides of Rollins Pass.