The Colorado city of Durango is a mountain biking paradise. It’s generally not a positive thing to refer to a town as dirty, but in the case of southwest Colorado, the more grit the better. And you can find plentiful amounts of the stuff in Durango, one of Colorado’s top single-track mountain-biking areas.
While local riders’ bright jerseys are always prominent amongst the mountain town’s cowboy hats and boots, the off-kilter yet passionate cycling-clan has made a mark that has turned into an important piece of Durango’s culture.
The used-to-be mining town serves as a place where dry, sterile desert environment clashes with verdant green forests. In a landscape that the local outdoor community calls “God’s country,” you can’t go wrong, especially as a cyclist.
While the city provides never-ending trails of diverse skill-levels, these are by far the three most popular, molding scenery and challenge.
The easiest of the said single-track trails, Horse Gulch is easy to get to from downtown Durango at the corner of 8th Ave. and 3rd St. The road escalates from the south-east corner of the city and eventually tapers off with scenery of a rugged, juniper-forested valley and a hill on the opposite side. This one- to two-hour there-and-back-again ride is an awesome warm-up if you’re new to Colorado biking. To add longevity to the ride, detour on a branch trail like The Meadow, another intermediate trail going east through sage-brush and scrub oak.
Dry Fork Loop
You can pedal eight and a half miles on the Highway to this trail or simply drive to the loop just northwest of Durango, which borders a state wildlife environment. You can’t get any better than the singletrack along this intermediate three-to-four hour ride. The shadowed, tree-covered trail goes creekside through most of its sections, providing some steep areas, but it’s a pretty moderate ride. Watch for horse traffic on this trail, primarily in hunting season.
This bike ride is a day trip and definitely requires a shuttle, unless you are going for an out-and-back. If you don’t have a problem with shuttling, you have two choices: Start from Hermosa or drive another twenty miles to Purgatory Mt Resort. Enter through the Forest Road near the resort’s entrance and go west for seven-or-so miles over the mountain to Hermosa Park.
Even though the trail appears to be a down-hill cruise starting from the resort end, that’s not really what it is. You’ll definitely drop in more elevation than you’ll gain during this 20-mile segment, but the long advanced course makes for a rolling ride instead of an sprint to Hermosa. Classic single-track is prominent throughout the whole ride, with a few steep sections to get your cardiovascular rate up and a few river crossings to cool you down.
What better way to celebrate Colorado cycling’s pure awesomeness than donning a Colorado jersey?