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  1. #1
    Senior Member LordOpie's Avatar
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    mtb touring, literally... looking for campsites in Colorado

    I'd like to load up and ride into the mountains.

    Do any of y'all know a mtb trail that can be camped near a decent size water source?

    I'll take any and all suggestions, but ideally, one would need to ride at least 10 miles from any road to get to such a 'campsite'.

    TIA for any ideas!

  2. #2
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordOpie
    I'll take any and all suggestions, but ideally, one would need to ride at least 10 miles from any road to get to such a 'campsite'.
    Portions of them are very far away from water, but a couple of long-distance mountain bike options are the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.

    If 400 miles of trail is too much, the Forest Service maps show all of the 4WD roads that meander all over the National Forests. Mountain biking and dispersed camping is permitted outside of designated Wilderness Areas in the National Forests.

    In Colorado I prefer camping in Arapaho/Roosevelt NF over Pike National Forest; there seem to be too many drunk/high weirdos down south and I always bring a *** with me in Pike. I've never felt the need to do so in the north.

    RFM

  3. #3
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner
    Pike National Forest; there seem to be too many drunk/high weirdos down south and I always bring a *** with me in Pike. I've never felt the need to do so in the north.

    RFM
    You're going to the wrong places, I've never seen anything like this.

    LO Here is one you'll like. Ride south out of Westcliffe into the Sangre De Christo range to S. Colony road. take this jeep road up along S. Colony creek to the end, then the single track into South Colony Lakes, great campsites on the lake. As a side trip you can climb one of the four 14,000 ft peaks out of this basin (Humbolt, Crestone Peak and Needle, and Kit Carson), there are also fish in the lakes if you carry a fly rod.
    San Isabel National Forest.

    Tin Cup Pass area also offeres lots of choices, as well as Mt. Princeton Hot Springs at the end.

    Have fun, wish I could join you!
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  4. #4
    Spinone Italiano Fat Boy Biker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty
    You're going to the wrong places, I've never seen anything like this.

    LO Here is one you'll like. Ride south out of Westcliffe into the Sangre De Christo range to S. Colony road. take this jeep road up along S. Colony creek to the end, then the single track into South Colony Lakes, great campsites on the lake. As a side trip you can climb one of the four 14,000 ft peaks out of this basin (Humbolt, Crestone Peak and Needle, and Kit Carson), there are also fish in the lakes if you carry a fly rod.
    San Isabel National Forest.

    Tin Cup Pass area also offeres lots of choices, as well as Mt. Princeton Hot Springs at the end.

    Have fun, wish I could join you!
    LO, Shifty is dead on here. I have backpacked over music pass, just near Crestone Peak. It's killer beautiful. However, there is one warning. I own land just north of Westcliffe, and was down there 2 weeks ago. The Sangre De Christos are pretty dang snowy. It could be August before it really melts.

    Have fun.

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  5. #5
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty
    You're going to the wrong places, I've never seen anything like this.

    LO Here is one you'll like. Ride south out of Westcliffe into the Sangre De Christo range to S. Colony road. take this jeep road up along S. Colony creek to the end, then the single track into South Colony Lakes, great campsites on the lake. As a side trip you can climb one of the four 14,000 ft peaks out of this basin (Humbolt, Crestone Peak and Needle, and Kit Carson), there are also fish in the lakes if you carry a fly rod.
    San Isabel National Forest.

    Tin Cup Pass area also offeres lots of choices, as well as Mt. Princeton Hot Springs at the end.

    Have fun, wish I could join you!
    A great 3 day trip is to start at Princeton Hot Springs and go up toward St. Elmo. Go past St. Elmo toward the old townsite of Hancock. At the base of Hancock Pass you have a choice of going over it or continuing on up towards the Alpine Tunnel (Take a side trip to the east portal). There is a road about a half mile up the railbed that goes off the the west. It's blocked off with a pipe gate but is open to cyclists. This is Williams Pass. It's rideable until you hit the boggy area right at the top. On the west side, it's too rocky to ride but the hike-a-bike section is only about a half mile long. Once you get back on your bike, ride down to the old Colorado and South Park rail bed.

    At this point go back up hill to the right to the Alpine Tunnel's west portal. It's worth the trip. Once you look around head back down the hill towards Pitkin. When you come to Forest Road 765 turn right and go up to Upper Quartz Creek campground. It's on Mosquito Creek (consider yourself warned) so camp out of the trees. This campground is one of the few places in Colorado that has a fungus called white rot fungus. The fungus eats the part of trees that is brown and leaves the branches that fall on the ground white. It looks like bleached bones everywhere. If you walk back into the woods to the east, there are also hundreds of fairy slipper orchids everywhere. Very pretty and very cool!

    On the next day go on up FR765 to the north and over Cumberland Pass. When you get to Tincup, you can either continue on to Taylor Res. where there are a couple of nice Forest Service campgrounds on the north end of the Res. or you can turn towards Mirror Lake where you will find a stunning campground on a small lake.

    The next day you can climb over Tincup Pass back to St. Elmo which is a rough, short trip. Or you could come back over Cottonwood Pass which is a smooth, long trip.

    This year the snow will be deep until at least mid June, possibly even early July.

    If you want a trip that is dryer but less remote, you could start in Canon City and go up Phantom Canyon to Cripple Creek and return via Shelf Road. If you wanted to make it longer you could continue on to Manitou Springs via Gold Camp Road and then return to Cripple Creek by going up Cheyenne Canyon or the Old Stage Road just to make it harder
    Stuart Black
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  6. #6
    Senior Member LordOpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty
    ...then the single track into South Colony Lakes, great campsites on the lake.
    Cool!


    I should've clarified that I'd like single track or at least something that no vehicle can use. I'd like to be at least a couple miles away from any road. Something only hikers, horses, and bikes could get to. I bet I'm asking for too much?

  7. #7
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordOpie
    Cool!


    I should've clarified that I'd like single track or at least something that no vehicle can use. I'd like to be at least a couple miles away from any road. Something only hikers, horses, and bikes could get to. I bet I'm asking for too much?
    You need to expand your horizons! Colorado has tons of historical back country roads that have light traffic and go to some spectacular places. Rollins Pass has some of the most beautiful scenery in the state just past Needle's Eye Tunnel. Marshal Pass is also spectacular (and it connects to the Monarch Crest Trail at the top). The Ophir Loop in southwestern Colorado is breathtaking. And Hagerman Pass from Leadville to Basalt is an undiscovered treasure.

    If you want single track, try Hermosa Creek Trail to the north of Durango. You can loop up the trail from Durango to the Colorado Trail and then return to Durango. I wouldn't go now since it has some stream crossings that you couldn't make right now but it should be good by late July.
    Stuart Black
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  8. #8
    contrarian lala's Avatar
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    Please keep this thread going because I too am interested.
    If possible, I am looking not to drive too far (no more than 3-4 hours) from Colorado Springs and bike a route not too challenging for a girl on a rigid mtb xtracycle conversion.
    (IE hiking the bike is not a great option.) Any additional suggestions?
    Higher ground for the apocalypse!

  9. #9
    Senior Member LordOpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    You need to expand your horizons!
    I agree and the suggestions you offered are wonderful... and I shall be doing them.

    But right now, I'm specifically looking for "backpack-cycling" suggestions. I want to get into the backcountry on mtb away from any motorized traffic of any kind for overnight camping.

    I guess the question is... what hiking trails allow bikes and aren't too technical for a loaded rig?

  10. #10
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lala
    Please keep this thread going because I too am interested.
    If possible, I am looking not to drive too far (no more than 3-4 hours) from Colorado Springs and bike a route not too challenging for a girl on a rigid mtb xtracycle conversion.
    (IE hiking the bike is not a great option.) Any additional suggestions?
    You might look at a map showing the Rainbow Trail on the Westcliffe side of the Sangre de Christo range. It traverses the range at about 7500 ft ( or so ), which is well below the snow levels this time of year. It goes from Salida to south of Westcliffe, ends at Music pass road. Lots of camping , stream crossings, great for early season riding, and all single track (unless you choose to explore jeep roads that go up into drainages).

    San Isabel NF map and topo maps show this trail. Think about starting at Texas Creek going south.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  11. #11
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty
    You're going to the wrong places, I've never seen anything like this.
    Admittedly this was only one incident in Pike NF on the back side of Cheyenne Mountain not too far from Colorado Springs. Some drunk teens/young adults pull over and shine their headlights through the woods right into my campsite sometime after midnight. I hear doors slamming, some belligerent shouting and cussing and approaching footsteps. One of the guys starts yelling something about "Belinda" being in my tent. I load my shotgun and crawl out of the tent.

    There are three guys. The loudmouth sees me and I guess realizes I'm not Belinda. A little more polite than before, he asks me if Belinda is in my tent or if I've seen her. I tell them I don't know Belinda, and they go on their way.

    I watch them drive away on the "No Vehicle Access" trail I'm camped near and I hear them driving their 4x4 with a bad muffler back and forth a few times over the next two hours. I ended up sleeping outside about 20 yards from my tent in case these yahoos decided to pay me a covert visit.

    RFM

  12. #12
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner
    Admittedly this was only one incident in Pike NF on the back side of Cheyenne Mountain not too far from Colorado Springs. Some drunk teens/young adults pull over and shine their headlights through the woods right into my campsite sometime after midnight. I hear doors slamming, some belligerent shouting and cussing and approaching footsteps. One of the guys starts yelling something about "Belinda" being in my tent. I load my shotgun and crawl out of the tent.

    There are three guys. The loudmouth sees me and I guess realizes I'm not Belinda. A little more polite than before, he asks me if Belinda is in my tent or if I've seen her. I tell them I don't know Belinda, and they go on their way.

    I watch them drive away on the "No Vehicle Access" trail I'm camped near and I hear them driving their 4x4 with a bad muffler back and forth a few times over the next two hours. I ended up sleeping outside about 20 yards from my tent in case these yahoos decided to pay me a covert visit.

    RFM
    I see where you're coming from, sorry, I'd feel the same way. There has always been lots of boonies up behind Cheyenne Mtn, guess I've always known where to avoid.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  13. #13
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordOpie
    I agree and the suggestions you offered are wonderful... and I shall be doing them.

    But right now, I'm specifically looking for "backpack-cycling" suggestions. I want to get into the backcountry on mtb away from any motorized traffic of any kind for overnight camping.

    I guess the question is... what hiking trails allow bikes and aren't too technical for a loaded rig?
    If you are looking to go this weekend, stay low. Most of the high stuff is way too wet and snowy. You could go out Waterton Canyon and follow the Colorado Trail all the way to the Lost Creek Wilderness boundry and return. It's a 100 mile trip and all away from traffic. But it gets technical.

    The Rainbow Trail near Salida has already been suggested.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

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