Heil Valley Ranch

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14
miles

Intermediate

Singletrack
↑ 4,100 ft
↓ 3,300 ft
6.6
avg mph
282
ridden
106
wishlist
1:37
avg time

Lariat
AVERAGE RATING
3.73 out of 5
About This Trail
added by JohnsXCbike Trailblazer on April 12, 2005
actions now above photo
 
There are currently 13.5 miles of bike-legal trails at Heil Valley ranch, but in order to ride all of them at once you’d have to do at least 23-24 miles of pedaling. The trail system is basically laid out with a figure 8 around the top of the mountain/ridge, and an out-and-back trail running up to it from the north and one from the south. The trailhead location given here, and one of the most popular rides, is to ride from the southern trailhead, up the 2.5-mile trail, around some of the trails on top, and back down. The out-and-back trail coming in from the north is 5.5 miles one-way, so riding from the northern trailhead would make for a longer ride… and riding absolutely everything would make for a grueling experience with tons of climbing.

But all of that climbing is worth it, though! The trails here sport that characteristic Front Range rockiness, with plenty of chunk to pedal through on the climb up and around the upper trails. However, there are a few buff sections of trail thrown in at random, and none of the rocks are seriously big. It is all very easy to pedal through, and by Front Range standards is probably only intermediate in difficulty.

Once at the top, be sure to take in the amazing views of the Front Range! Then get ready to descend. The descent back down is what it’s all about, and despite all of the rocks these trails sport some serious flow! All of the undulations, grade reversals, and swooping turns are just perfect, allowing you to carry some serious speed. But since both of the trails climbing to the top are ridden out-and-back, be sure to watch for oncoming traffic and to always ride in control. This trail is very popular, so keep your eyes peeled and don’t get too crazy… but have fun, because the bomb back down is awesome!
Rider Questions
 
System Trails (4)
Wapiti Trail
Ponderosa Loop
Wild Turkey Trail
Picture Rock Trail
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Recent Trail Check-ins
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  zmiko
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mobenw on August 4, 2014
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Review: Very fun trail. Can be accessed either off Hwy 7 in Lyons to start with Picture Rock trail (5.2 miles of unremitting uphill but with some nice views) or off Hwy 36 closer to Boulder and heading up Wapiti Trail (2.5 miles of rockier trail but more fun and what I would recommend). Once at the top, there are 3 interconnected loops. At the end of Wapiti, if you head left and go clockwise you'll Ponderosa Loop first. The trail builders have done an EXTRAORDINARY JOB - dips and berms with a few rocks and roots thrown in. After about a mile, there is a beautiful lookout. You can head right onto Wild Turkey (nice but rocky) or continue on Ponderosa. Continuing on, you hit a fantastic, fast section through the trees which eventually dumps you onto the rocky but more fun section of Wild Turkey. You can then do Picture Rock as an out and back or keep stacking loops and take Wapiti back down. I really enjoy this trail. It may not be for everyone but, IMHO, the section of Ponderosa is about as much fun as anything Monarch Crest or Trail 401 has to offer (only lacks their breathtaking beauty).

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GPzMike on July 28, 2014
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Review: I'm visiting the area and I'm on a steel hard tail...so I hated this trail the first time out...super rocky and a serious and literal PITA. However, now that I've done it a few times I'm having lots of fun on the trail and it is an excellent challenge to clear everything and brave the knarly bits at speed. This trail brings all my bike handling skills into play from fast and flowy turns just nipping past tree trunks to fairly technical 'pick the right line or yer done for' climbs and descents. I have to be paying attention the whole way or chaos will ensue!

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John Fisch on May 25, 2014
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Review: I was intrigued by the mixed reviews this one gets. Many rave, many decry--I have joined the former category. This trail has a lot going for it. Gradual, manageable climb, a few techy bits to make it more interesting, and Picture Rock has wonderful flow, especially on the descent. Flow from one little techy bit to the next up top and then swoopy and fast on the bottom. Good variety of singletrack and very nice scenery as well. I didin't get to ride it all due to recent rains, but I'll be back to get the rest next time I'm in the area.

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lnagle on May 3, 2014
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Review: Trail is closed May 3 2014

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jeff on October 29, 2013
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Review: Not a bad climb and the ridge riding at the top is excellent. Good chance to see wildlife and great views.

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jkey6 on June 15, 2013
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Review: This is a great, well-maintained trail with some good vertical footage. The loose rocks, which everyone seems to be commenting about, certainly make it a lot more challenging than it would be otherwise. I feel bad for anyone taking a hard tail on this trail... very bumpy! The top loop has gotten much more flowy over the past year of trail work. Still plenty of rocks to leave your butt sore but much better than it used to be. The downhill on the way back to the parking lot is a ton of fun and is a great run to get your confidence up if you are new to the sport. Hall Ranch nearby is a lot faster and flowy than this one, if that's what you're looking for.

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Gdb49 on June 2, 2013
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
Review: Awesome trail! The ride up is not difficult at any one point, but by time you ride the entire hill you will feel it. The down is a blast. All this discussion about rocks is ridiculous, it is a MTBing trail in Colorado. The area is beautiful and the trail is one of the best on the Front Range ( top 5 ) Don't miss this ride.

Similar Trail: Hall Ranch, not much else compares.

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jamesm925 on May 6, 2013
2 out of 2 readers found this useful
 
Review: i rode this under shitty conditions, so i'm sure it's a little better (if it's not horribly eroded and gets about a foot of dirt to cover the nasty spiked rocks EVERYWHERE).

i rode this trail hoping there would be some rhythm and flow, but it's nothing but 6in rocks sticking out of the ground waiting to slash the sidewalls of your tires.

i'm sure it would be better on an all mountain bike or something longer than a 4' travel XC bike.

it's bumpy as hell, so much so that it just wasn't enjoyable.

there's literally no reprieve from the bumps, which makes for an incredible workout climbing up picture rock, but also makes it very frustrating when you're just looking for some fast trail riding and do not want to have to crawl through rock gardens and spikey rocks kicking your rear tire around every which way.

definitely avoid. this trail is WAY WAY WAY overhyped.

the picture rock descent is fun, but you're better off riding to the bottom of the picture rock trailhead and skipping heil ranch altogether.

This trail has NO flow--unless you absolutely rail down it on a loooong travel bike.

It's the equivalent of riding 20 miles on ANNOYING speed bumps.

The people that are raving about this trail are the rock garden lovers and the 150mm travel crowd.

any trail 'flows' if you're fast enough, but you can hardly call it flow when every element of the trail works to slow you to a crawl and force you off your bike.

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tetontom on November 18, 2012
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Review: I rode today from Lyons up Picture Rock, then the figure-8 loops and back to Lyons. About 3 hours. I loved everything about the trail system; my new FAVORITE front range trail. The best is the downhill from the "overlook", and the last mile or so of downhill back to the TH.
The only trail in the system I didn't get on was the Wapiti; next time I ride I'll start there!
BTW, the entire system was dry a week after a pretty significant early snowstorm. Most of the foothills trails are at least partially wet...

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bodhiasa on November 9, 2012
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Review: Don't let the climb psych you out! It's an intense climb up Wapiti but the downhill will BLOW YOUR MIND! We were hooting and hollering the entire ride down! As we were climbing up, I was sure I would never want to do this trail again, but the downhill was such a blast, I plan to make this my training ride for awhile. bitchin.

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pacra12 on September 11, 2012
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Review: This is very much an intermediate trail on a hard tail. From the Picture Rock Trailhead the first 3 miles are rather easy but the rocks later on force a well thought out line. The climb never gets steep, but the 5.2 miles in make for a good warmup. Coming back down is flowy, but while you are at the top it is worth a lap or two on the wells signed loops.

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Forum1 on September 1, 2012
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Review: Awesome trail. Fun rocky climb and even better descend. Multiple lines to pick from.

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SLOWGATOR00 on August 22, 2012
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Review: Great Boulder County Trail!!! Two nice connected loops at the top of the climb, with the option to descend into Lyons via the Picture Rock trail. The place where I broke my first bike - I'll never forget that 6+ mile hike back to the car!!

Similar Trail: Hall Ranch, Evergreen/3 Sisters, Centennial Cone

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delphinide on August 20, 2012
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Review: Very, very nice trail with a lot of negotiable chunky up and downhills and relatively benign climbs. Beautiful views. Actually much better than I expected, and I am putting it in my top 10. I could ride this again and again. The downhill back to the car is one of the best flowy sections I have ever seen...

Similar Trail: Bergen Peak with more rocks, less steep climbing

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tcbroncs on August 20, 2012
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Review: The is a good ride, similar to Hall Ranch. Lots of rocky sections that may frustrate beginners to intermediate riders. A diverse terrain up and then back out. Ridden it a couple times and it get's better the more you ride it.

Similar Trail: Hall Ranch

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Guest on July 28, 2012
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Review: Nice scenery. Lots of little rocks. Not technical. Good for photo biking but not a destination ride.

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nspinks on July 18, 2012
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Review: Mentally and physically challenging but overall a lot of fun. Ran into a black bear last week. Uphill can be brutal but downhill is blast.

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dralbright on June 20, 2012
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Review: Wapiti Trail is a very rocky climb up to the top of the ranch, but once you connect with the Ponderosa Loop and Wild Turkey, there's some really great single- and doubletrack riding. The descent down Wapiti is a lot of fun, but prepare to be jostled quite a bit. Doesn't take a whole lot of time to get around a loop and back down.

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jalpert on June 14, 2012
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
Review: This is less a mountain bike trail and more a scree field with a path through it. Very rocky with little to no smooth sections. Arms and crotch were sore from the jostling. Maybe a full suspension would help. Way back down was fun though. Betasso is better Boulder - area riding.

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Greg Heil on June 8, 2012
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Review: This is a classic Colorado Front Range trail: lots of climbing and descending, and plenty of rocks to work you over! One thing that I really noticed about this trail: FLOW. Even in the rocky sections, the trail just flowed superbly! There were even sections that are currently under construction to help increase the flow factor. This is a very popular trail, though, and while the descent back down the mountain is crazy fast, watch for oncoming traffic.

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alskoj on May 30, 2012
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
Review: I was on a 29er hardtail and didn't enjoy the rocky sections but the smoother parts of the trail were really nice. I kinda got lost but some Heil "veterans" gave us good directions. I even passed a very nice gentleman on "Patrol". Saw some deer and a snake (and did I mention, about a million rocks!). If you like rocky trails this is for you! The rollercoaster ride down to the trailhead near Geer Canyon Rd. was epic. If you have a full suspension bike you will love this part. * Review edited 5/30/2012

* Review edited 6/30/2012

Similar Trail: I always recommend doing Hall Ranch from the Antelope trailhead.

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jptorre on May 20, 2012
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Review: If you are looking for a well maintained trail with a good up hill climb and a fast decent then this is your trail. The trail has good flow. There is little in the way of technical difficulty unless going downhill really fast is not your thing.

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tmoney149 on December 19, 2011
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Review: awesome trail. well maintained. good climbing to start the legs off and fun flowy loop at the top of the overlook. rode the wild turkey trail and it was perfect for an afternoon ride.

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Bwpaulk on October 22, 2011
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Review: Just so we're clear; They're called the Rocky Mts for a reason. Coming from 3 guys in their 40's that live Kansas, this trail was awesome. Took Pic Rock 2 Turkey 2 Pondy and back down. This is truly a trail building work of art: built up switchbacks, armoring, great flow. Boulder County has IT GOING ON. Great help from Dave at Redstone Cycles in Lyons. Wish it was in my backyard.

* Review edited 10/22/2011

Similar Trail: Buffalo Creek, Centennial Cone

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alyanne on September 4, 2011
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Review: This is a quintessential mtb trail. Pretty different from the stuff on east coast-rocky by those standards, but seems to be typical colorado trail. For only my second time on a mtb, I felt challenged but confident. steep climbs open up to beautiful vistas. cool ranch setting. I almost preferred the shalllower, wider trail head where you could pick up mega speed on generous curves.

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mattics on June 25, 2011
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Review: It's a fun trail although as others said, it is pretty rocky. I actually felt like I took more punishment heading up the climb with the rocks than heading downhill. For me, the section on the Wild Turkey trail from the Ponderosa Overlook to the Picture Rock trail was particularly fun. Not necessarily hard or technical, but a good fast sweeping singletrack.

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UniballLenny on June 7, 2011
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Review: Ummm... yea. It says intermediate but unless you have buns of steel and hands like iron you will be beat up after riding this trail. You never relax. You are constantly on guard and climbing up very rocky terrain. If you like that kinda stuff (like me) this trail is fun and challenging.

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tickledpickle on June 6, 2011
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Review: Heil is a very nice trail surrounded by beautiful scenery and great wildlife. Came across wild turkeys and deer. Not very technical but extremely rocky, especially toward the top of the mountain and Ponderosa Loop – though worth riding the Ponderosa Loop just to see the overlook. Glad I checked it out but won’t be returning to Heil anytime soon due to the overload of loose rocks.

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anthonywilbanks on May 31, 2011
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Review: Awesome trail! Plenty of rocks to keep you busy!

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JMWatt91 on October 24, 2010
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Review: Pretty bumpy at parts, but all in all a good trail. the Ponderosa Loop leads to a nice overlook and was fun to ride.

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Nick_Shea on October 22, 2010
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Review: The ride was pretty chill, I don't know why everyone thinks that it is too rocky, I have a hard tail and i didn't mind it one bit.

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Tr0gd0r on July 26, 2010
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Review: This trail is a blast. I can do without a lot of the really loose, rough stuff up top, but the Picture Rock trail more than makes up for it. Not the most challenging trail around, but fast, twisty, and well-made, with just enough obstacles to keep it interesting. Really fun.

Similar Trail: Walker Ranch

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mwalsh23 on May 25, 2010
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Review: Fun route, close to Boulder. Up towards the top there are some pretty rocky sections that will jar your bones pretty good. Within the last few years they added an additional loop (which connects to Hall Ranch in Lyons) and it is a great new route. I highly recommend this outer loop over the inner loop.

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kuala_tahan on August 19, 2009
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Review: Review strictly for Picture Rock trail. Really well done trail, has great flow, steady climbing all the way up (if you park off Red Gulch Road). Nice and smooth ride the first half to three quarters of the trail (nothing like Heil), then the remainder of the trail (getting close to the Turkey Loop at Heil) turns semi-rocky, making it a little more challenging ride (and a little more similar to Heil). Nice winding, twisty trail, designed really well. Coming down is a blast, can rip it (might want to holler coming around blind corners though, almost got in a big head on collision). If you're feeling like a big ride, trail brings you into Heil and you can ride around in there. Out and back Picture Rock is 11 miles.

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Speedman on July 7, 2009
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Review: This Picture rock section of this trail is a memorable ride, and a nice change from the other trails near Boulder. After the wet spring of 2009, the trail cut through beautiful fields of top-tube tall grass and wild flowers. The trail is mostly smooth non-tech single track more than half way up with neat turns and berms. The second half of the climb gets a bit rocky, but that is why we ride mountain bikes. I suggest linking Picture Rock to a loop on top at Heil for a great 15+ mile ride. I reiterate nejmensi's thanks to all those who built it. Thank you!* Review edited 7/7/2009

* Review edited 7/22/2009

Similar Trail: Heil Ranch, Walker Ranch, Hall Ranch

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mistertarcy on July 6, 2009
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Review: Overall a great ride. The initial climb is tough, especially given how rocky the trail is, but manageable. Great shade, and not too busy if you hit the trailhead fairly early (I started out around 8:30am). Great wildlife opportunity, as I saw a family of turkeys waddling along the dirt road up to the trailhead. Great 1.5 hour workout!

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cdrigg on June 26, 2009
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Review: This is a great new trail. It's a nice, gradual incline that combines singletrack (first 2.5 miles or so) with some slightly techie rock gardens (second 2.5 miles). Right now it's absolutely gorgeous in that valley. My only complaint is that it's a bit challenging to get much momentum on the downhill - at least during the "techie" section. It wasn't steep enough to get much speed to effortlessly carry you through the rock gardens (for me at least). That said, not being very steep sure is nice when you're going uphill! All-in-all this is a fun trail. I highly recommend it -- especially for beginner to intermediate MT bikers.

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rblasko55 on June 13, 2009
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Review: Good Ride. NOT AS ROCKY as people make it out to be. It is pretty typical for the front range with the exception of the Ponderosa loop. The Ponderosa loop is full of very, very loose rocks, with that in mind I would ride this loop in the clockwise direction. Other than that I had a great time here. The down ll back to the car is great on a full suspension. Hard tails may want to stay away.

* Review edited 6/13/2009

Similar Trail: Deer Creek Canyon, CO

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kuala_tahan on June 7, 2009
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Review: Fun loop off Ponderosa Loop. Smoother than Ponderosa

Similar Trail: Heil

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nejmensi on June 2, 2009
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Review: Beautiful and easy trail at the outset (starting from Lyons). Lots of twists and turns, scenic sites (old farm ruins and silo), and overall good flow. At about roughly midpoint it turns rocky and slightly more technical before it intersects with Wild Turkey and ultimately the Heil Ranch loop. Fun ride. Highly recommend. Thanks to Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance and IMBA for building this trail!

Similar Trail: Hall Ranch, Walker Ranch, Rabbit Mountain, Betasso

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Speedman on May 29, 2009
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Review: The Wild Turkey Trail is highlighted here. I rode the Ponderosa loop to the top where it meets up again with the Wild Turkey Loop.

This is the key trail that connects to the Picture Rock trail and was not included in the main Heil Valley Ranch posting.

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bikecandy on November 8, 2008
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Review: The trail is good in either direction. From the Lyons side it is mostly a gradual climb. This trail connects to Wild Turkey of the Heil Ranch trail system, so balloon loops or epics including Hall and Heil are possible. Picture Rock is a mix of smooth single track and frequent square-edged rock obstacles with the two to three miles near Lyons being almost all smooth, flowing singletrack and the two to three miles near the Wild Turkey junction fairly rocky. Not too technical but enough to keep you on your toes or improve tech skills. The grades are never very steep but enough to be able to flow over almost obstacles on the way down without pedaling or test your legs on the single-speed on the way up.

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steve32300 on November 2, 2008
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Review: Yes it is rocky here at heil,although it is a cool trail to ride that has a new trail called picture rock that connects hall ranch to heil ranch now so a rider can make a good ride out of both without driving back and forth.We were thinking it would be cool to shuttle to hall ranch and ride down to heil,would make for a cool ride.The rocky sections are not all together technical but there are some square edge rocks that can make a rider remember what trail he's riding.The climbing here is not too awful steep so riding through all the rock is'nt all that bad.

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kuala_tahan on October 20, 2008
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Review: I loved the trail, real rocky, but not killer rocky, they don't interrupt trail flow at all. Very reminiscent of east coast (Boston area) trails with the rocks. Fun on the way down

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Wiseclam on August 27, 2008
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Review: I'm not a big fan of Heil. But here are the pros and cons... Pros - Very accessible (close to home), never too crowded, rideable most of the year, very nice surrounding environment, always a good workout, lots of wildlife (saw a bear here once!). Cons - Way too rocky. Depending how hard you hit the initial climb Heil can be physically demanding. Of course that's true for a 3 mile flat road, too. But the initial climb to the upper loop is not technical and can be fairly easy (there's maybe one tough section with lots of loose rock and sandy dirt just before the loop). The loop is fun and the new section adds some variable terrain. The real problem with Heil is the extremely rocky sections of the loop and on the downhill. We're not talking rock garden (which can be fun) but lots of 4 to 8 inch diameter fixed and loose rock which rattle the teeth even on my full suspension. Heil is worth doing once but in my opinion it isn't worth going back - at least not often.

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radpresley on July 12, 2008
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Review: Why is this trail so popular? I have been riding a long time and this is by far the worst trail I have ever been on. Even with the new trail addition I still couldn't wait to get done with this awful ride. It is definitely worth driving somewhere else.

* Review edited 7/12/2008

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jaredlovenduski on October 8, 2007
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Review: TOO ROCKY!. Even on a dual suspension you'll be not stoked about how unnesessary all of the roughness is. This was once a great intermediate ride but now is much better used for hiking. Don't bother as theres lots of better stuff in the area

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blankind on October 7, 2006
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Review: This *used* to be an outstanding trail before a rainstorm about 3 years ago wreaked havoc on the surface of the trail. Yeah, the previously nice mix of smooth and rocky terrain is nearly all rocky now and it is such a shame. The downhill on the way back used to be a blast, but it is now just average. I used to like this trail as much or more than Hall Ranch, but the scales are definitely in favor of Hall Ranch now. It still is a great ride and is a nice 1.5-2 hour ride depending on how many loops you do up top. There are also plenty of deer and elk around to gaze at.

Similar Trail: Hall Ranch

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BOYD983@HOTMAIL.COM on September 12, 2006
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Review: There are too many rocks for this to be a 8 or 9 for me. It is very pretty, but for a hardtail rider and traveling with a less experienced rider it is lucky to get a five. All up and then all downhill is not my idea of**reat trail ride.

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stumpy00 on July 9, 2006
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Review: This trail is alright...not very challenging and lots of loose rock. The scenic view midway through the loop is nothing short of spectacular, but the trail is not as fun as it could be.

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dauw on June 25, 2006
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Review: I like rocks, but not for the entire ride. It's all ridable though. I didn't enjoy this trial that much. Too many rocks, and not much scenery with exception of the overlook. The one good things is the return is all down hill to your car. In my opinion there are much better trails on the Front Range to ride.

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lukewiens on April 14, 2006
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Review: a nice easy trail with tons of rocks. the rocks get kind of annoying, although the grade is low enough that you can blast right up the mountain. pretty fun on the way down, lay off the brakes and hang on to your teeth and your water bottles. loop took one hour average 7.9mph.

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petersbike on October 19, 2005
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Review: Nice easy trail with beautiful overlook at top of loop.

Similar Trail: Betasso preserve

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gravitysesh on September 19, 2005
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Review: I am a beginner mountain biker and I absolutely loved this trail. I have to admit it was technical enoug to freak me out at first and the climb was tougher on me than what others have said. Either way, I thought it was an awesome trail for someone just getting into mountain biking. For beginners, slow and steady wins the race.

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Rebus on August 26, 2005
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Review: The first 2+ mile climb took a lot out of my wimpy legs, but after I made it to the top, the loop made it all worthwhile. Great views, fun rocky sections, and that long descent back to the car. Very fun ride.

Similar Trail: Hall Ranch

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JJonas on July 1, 2005
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Review: Although its rocky, its all rideable. At 8 miles, it's a pretty short ride, but good for a quick spin after work. They've been doing some trail work and it looks like they'll fix some of the rough sections. I enjoyed it, but wished it was longer.

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idyll23 on June 11, 2005
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Review: I actually love this trail despite the rocky terrain. A lot of riders hate the loose rock on the climb up, but it makes for a fun challenge on a fairly short climb up. The downhill after the overlook is bumpy as all hell and you stand a chance of pinch-flat or a bent rim if you bomb it, but nevertheless. When you're heading down you won't be able to wipe the grin off your face for hours.

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Heil Valley Ranch MTB Trail 3.73 out of 5 based on 57 ratings. 57 user reviews.
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