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The Continental Divide Trail, also known as Wyoming Trail and Trail #1101 in this area, runs for 15 miles one-way from Dumont Lake (near the Rabbit Ears and Hwy 40) to Buffalo Pass.
Starting off as a doubletrack, the tread quickly narrows into singletrack. This section of the CDT passes through numerous high-alpine meadows, bursting with wildflowers of all colors of the rainbow. Every mile or so (it seems) the trail passes a high alpine lake, natural, clear, and isolated from civilization.
The trail tread itself is good dirt, and is filled with plenty of rocks-some sections of which are downright difficult. There are a few short climbs and descents, but for the most part this section of the CDT runs along the divide and doesn't gain or lose significant elevation. Still, despite the overall lack of climbs, the high elevation and multitude of rocks make this a strenuous climb.
To do this trail as a shuttle (see GPS Map), get a ride up to Dumont Lake near Rabbit Ears Peak. Start the ride by heading north from there on the Continental Divide Trail/Wyoming Trail #1101. Ride the CDT for about 8 miles, and turn left onto the Fish Creek Falls trail. Loop around Long Lake, and then take a left onto Mountain View. Ride the Mountain View trail for 6 miles to the resort, and then there are a myriad of options to descend. I descended on Pete's Wicked Trail, then dropped into Moonlight, and finally picked up the Valley View trail, which leads all the way to the base of the mountain. From the base, pick up the bike path which drops down to Highway 40, and the other side of 40 pick up the Yampa River paved greenway trail, which leads all the way back into Steamboat Springs.
Ride Description from Buffalo Pass:
This trail is a delight for those who desire fast, generally smooth and rolling single-track with a smattering of climbing and technical sections. I started my day at the Buffalo Pass trailhead (about 15 miles out of town). After a short climb the trail levels out and trends downward over the next 7 or 8 miles. The trail is a mixture of smooth, cool forest sections, short uphills, and overall very fast riding. The atmosphere is surprisingly lush through here, and at times it feels like you are in a rain forest because the trees are so full and tight.
When you get to the 4-way intersection, you can take a short rest, then head west on the Fish Creek Falls trail. You will pass a large lake and soon you will find a split in the trail. You want to take the left fork to do the Mountain View Trail. This section begins with a long, gradual climb (you will be near or at 10,000í for much of this trail) but it is fairly easy and the trail is smooth (coming back down makes it worth it!). Once this portion of trail levels off, you have another nice mixture of fast single-track, with some small climbs thrown in to keep you honest. There is very little technical riding necessary, although there are a few tricky spots. After one series of switchbacks uphill and one series down, you will begin the final ascent to the ski area. Once you reach the top, you owe it to yourself to ride a few hundred feet west to the big chair lift and take in the view from the top! You will be looking down on the town of Steamboat. You are now about 15 miles into the trail! Time to head back.
You will return the same way, taking the Mountain View Trail back down (mostly downhill) to the Fish Creek Falls trail and head back uphill to the lake. To save time I opted to ride about half way up the lake and take a left turn on the forest service road and follow that for several miles to another split, at which time I took a right. You will soon find a gate, and another lake. Continue to follow this road for 5 or 6 miles in an uphill climb that will probably have you wondering just how far uphill this road can take you? After one last hill near the radio tower you will crest and descend back to the parking lot. Optionally, you could return the exact same way you rode out (on the single-track). I chose the rode because I was in a hurry to get back to town. It was MUCH quicker. I consider this loop one of the best rides Iíve been on, and if you like cross country riding Iím willing to bet you will too. I did see a fair number of hunters in the area, so you might want to wear some orange.
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