Trail of the Week: Beall & Ridge Trail Loop
Editor’s note: This information was previously published in the 2019 Steamboat Springs Bike Guide.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — This loop is a classic on the backside of Emerald Mountain, tying together two of Steamboat Springs’ best sections of singletrack. While it can be ridden up and over from the front side of Emerald and back, that’s a relatively big day and only half of the upcoming Steamboat Stinger mountain bike race. This route lets you experience both trails in a shorter two- to-three-hour loop.
Beall Trail, total 6.63 miles
Fun fact: The Beall trail recognizes the efforts of Ben Beall, the 13-year chairman of the Emerald Mountain Partnership who was instrumental in negotiating the land exchange between the State Land Board and the Bureau of Land Management in 2007. The negotiations yielded the largest land swap in Colorado history, adding 4,193 acres of public land called the Special Recreation Area on Emerald Mountain.
Parking/trailhead: From downtown turn left off Lincoln Avenue onto 13th Street by the Bud Werner Memorial Library. Follow 13th as it becomes Routt County Road 33 (Twentymile Road). Take a left off the pavement onto dirt Routt County Road 45 (Cow Creek Road) at the bottom of the hill. The first parking area you pass accesses the Ridge and Rotary trails. Park here, and then start riding two additional miles on C.R. 45 until you see the parking area for Beall Trail on your left.
Description: While it can be ridden both directions, this ride takes you up Beall and then down Ridge Trail back to your car. The Beall Trail offers views of Rabbit Ears Pass, the Flat Tops Wilderness Area and surrounding ranch land. You’ll meander through open meadows, lush ferns, pine forests, aspen groves and a beautiful gamble oak forest. The trail is non-technical singletrack with a gentle grade. In all, you’ll ride up 6.6 miles of relatively easy grade (note: it starts out kind of steep.) Two benches near the top let you rest and hydrate, taking in commanding views of the Flat Tops and Park Range.
Ridge Trail, total 5 miles
At the top of the Beall Trail you’ll find a sign leading back down the backside of Emerald on the Ridge Trail (the site also marks the junction with the Wild Rose Trail from the front side). Freshly “de-shrubbed” by Routt County Riders, the Ridge Trail offers stunning views and smooth, tacky riding. A scenic bench to your left a short ways in offers a great spot for a snack. The trail parallels a fence to your right off and on, marking private property. Hint: keep your pedals flat; a few hidden, sawed-off bush stumps in this first section have been known to grab pedals. A series of smooth switchbacks soon drop you farther of the backside, until you hit a fork two-thirds of the way down. For a slightly longer ride, take a right and then another right onto the Rotary Trail. To head straight back to your car, stay left, completing a classic 13-mile loop.
To reach Eugene Buchanan, call 970-871-4276 or email ebuchanan@SteamboatPilot.com.
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