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This is an ATV track that winds its way thru the mountains and forest on the leeward side of the Sangreís for 14 miles from Forest Service road 421 on the north end down to the Bear Lake campground at the end of Forest Service Road 413 to the south. This is a scenic area with the Spanish Peaks across the valley to the east and the high Sangre de Cristos to the southwest. When I arrived at the north trailhead I was disappointed to see that it was an ATV track up into the trees. I tend to be a singletrack snob, and I usually donít like to ride trails popular with the throttle twisting types ñ churned up dirt and rocks isnít my idea of a fun way to spend the day ñ but this trail turned out to be firm track the whole way. If you choose to ride the north portion of the trail you better bring your climbing legs ñ it goes from 8,500 to 10,500 feet in about six miles. The trail is in good shape, so it is mostly just a matter of sitting in the saddle and cranking, but it is a long climb, especially if you arenít used to the altitude. From that first summit you descend on fairly fast doubletrack 500 vertical feet into Bonnett Park and then do a slow and easy ascent for the next eight miles up over the next ridge to the campground, at about 10,500í.
There are a few alternate routes to consider. If you want to skip the 2,000í climb out of the north trailhead you may want to start at the Spring Creek trailhead on the south side of the town of Cuchara. From there it is about four miles uphill on the Dodge Ton Trail (1302) to where it joins the Indian Trail a bit south of Bonnet Park. Or, similarly, the Baker Creek Trail (1301) further south of Cuchara connects into the Indian Trail a few miles further south. I have never done it, but if you really want to make an epic day out of it you can almost double the miles by continuing south from the Bear Lake campground to the Trenchara Peak road (436), go up that road and pick up the North Fork Trail (1309) and ride it to the Purgatoire Campground on North Fork Road (34). While you are at it, what the heck, take the lung-busting road all the way to the saddle on the north side of Trenchera Peak (13,517í).
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