August 19, 2013
We shuttled this starting at Vail Pass, riding Bowman's shortcut to Two Elk, through the back bowls of Vail and ended in Minturn. It was a LOT of steep climbing, some 1900 feet, but actually less than I anticipated. I walked a few sections trying to save my legs, but had I known 'we were almost to the top' I could have ridden all of it...and so can you if you whip out the gnar. The first section of downhill is steep, rooty, rocky, twisty, and, well...awesome. However, you quickly bump into another steepish 20% grade climb that is a few hundred yards, then it is all downhill from there. Honestly. Once you see the sign that says "Two Elk Pass" go right to go to Vail, or continue straight to go to Minturn...our route...which turns into very narrow, overgrown, loose, twisty singletrack into the back bowls. It is awesome....but I took a digger on a washed out corner trusting too much in the loose berms. Once your reach a road next to a lift, stay on the trail by continuing down the singletrack towards the creek. You will ride the undulating creek for several more miles before you are done. This section is muddy, also overgrown, and full of rocks in awkward places that are definitely fun but require fitness and finesse to see them and maneuver to get up over them. Some features come up quick due to the thick vegetation, and there is a high cost of failure in a few places (you will see). So have fun but take this part seriously. Unfortunately it is not flowy or fast in most places, and requires pedaling up/over/around obstacles which interrupts speed and keeps your eyes off of the amazing scenery. Once you cross the small foot bridge, you are almost done, finishing with a fast, flowy, smooth singletrack back to the Two Elk trailhead. The views are incredible, but it is hard to look around because instead of focusing 50-100 feet in front of you, you pretty much have to focus on the trail in front because the grasses and weeds obscure your view in most of the backcountry sections. I can't wait to go back...
Monarch Crest Trail