September 27, 2009
This trail is USDA certified pure cross-country. It has great flow, long sight lines, and great views of Mt. Evans & Bierstadt on the way out and Pikes Peak on the way back, yet no major climbs or descents, and no major technical sections. With the exception of the scenery this is the exact type of trail you’d find in the Vegas/Phoenix/Albuquerque desert areas. As such its great for beginners, yet more advanced riders can push it hard to get a great workout and even get a couple scares. That’s because the tread – like all trails in the Buff Creek area – is sandy and pebbley. At speed this stuff can act like ball bearings. In addition, while the trail generally follows the contour there are enough sharp turns lurking in the runouts of the woops to keep you on your toes.
The trail is perfect for hardtails, rigids, singlespeeds, fixies, and night riding. In fact, I’d say its actually better on a hardtail since you’re pedaling and pumping most of the time, even on descents, so no need to deal with the bounce of a full springer.
My only problem with this trail is the distance it takes to get there. Its a solid 50 minutes from Evergreen and 20 minutes from Pine Junction. If you're an advanced or fit rider its probably a good idea to plan on hitting some other trails in the area to make it worth the drive time. If you're a beginner its worth it if you plan to check out some of the eateries or bars in the Buff Creek, Pine, Conifer areas. Probably not worth a trip just to ride this trail by itself.
Couple of suggestions for directions. 1) I don’t recommend parking at the National Forest Service’s Pine Trailhead unless you intend to ride the other trails out of there, too. Not only do you have to pay to park there but the ride to the main Chair Rocks trail is on service road and downhill, which means you’re climbing to get back to your car. Instead there’s a turnout off Deckers just before the NFS parking area. It’s on the west side of Deckers Rd. exactly 2.9 miles from the ranger station. (If you’re coming from the south its just past the lefthand turnoff for the NFS area on your left. Cross the road from there for the trail. 2) On the trail at the 4.5 mile mark, when you get to the junction of Raleigh Pk. Rd and Lion Cave you want to go hard left on Raleigh Pk., not Lion Cave. (Both are to the left of the Colorado Trail). Then proceed as noted 1/10th mile to the trail to Chair Rocks on the right.
I give this a 4-star because its a "Classic". Better than a 3-star "Good" but not a 5-star "Epic."
Anything in the Buff Creek area, Alderfer-3 Sisters, Lower Elk Meadow