If you are tired of riding in loops around hammered down urban mountain
bike trail networks and want to get out in the woods, far away from … well,
hammered down urban mountain bike trail networks … you might consider
this adventure. This route combines sections of two classic
transcontinental trails into a 39-mile loop: The Great Divide Mountain Bike
Route and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT).
The route described here takes you out on the Great Divide Route for about
18 miles and back on the CDT for another 21 miles. The two routes overlap
in a couple places, so you will see the same trail (doubletrack) a couple
times. The turn around point is at Lagunitas Campground. At 10,400 feet
this is the highest (and probably the most remote) national forest
campground in Carson National Forest. You might consider overnighting
here to make your ride into a two-day adventure.
This is remote country. Come prepared. Although there are some through
hikers, the CDT in this area is not heavily traveled. The meadows tend to
eat up the trails. It’s highly recommended that you download the
accompanying GPS map and make sure you know how to use your GPS unit.
Or go with a guide. The local “Cumbres Adventure Tours” can guide you
along this route (www.rideoutside.com).
The CDT crosses the highway right where you are parked. So, for a less
adventurous outing you can consider an out-and-back ride. Just cross the
highway and look for the trailhead.
The outbound Great Divide Route:
• From the Cumbres Pass summit, continue biking east down Hwy 17 for
another mile. Turn right onto gravel FR 117. Mileages start from here.
• At mile 3 you enter New Mexico, leaving Rio Grande National Forest
and entering Carson National Forest.
• At mile 3.2 bear left at the “Y” onto FR 87 (FR 686 goes straight).
• At mile 5.6 FR 87H goes to the right. Bear left and stay on FR 87.
• At mile 12.1 you come to signed Brazos Ridge overlook with stunning
views into the Cruces Basin Wilderness. Continue following FR 87.
• At mile 17.6 continue straight on FR 87 following the signs to the
Upper Lagunitas Campground.
Return route on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT):
• From the Upper Lagunitas Campground look for CDT signage along a
trail going along the north shore of the upper lake. The attached map
starts from the ridge above the Upper Lagunitas Campground.
• Although there are CDT signs along the trail back to Cumbres, it is
easy to get confused. The singletrack joins the Forest Road for awhile then
abruptly leaves it on a barely visible trail. As recommended above, it’s
highly recommended that you download the accompanying GPS map and
make sure you know how to use your GPS unit. Or go with a guide.
• Here’s an important piece of trivia that you should know if you don’t
already. The CDT signs along the trail have creatively turned the “T” into
an arrow. If the sign is tilted or is tacked up horizontally, that means
“follow the arrow … the trail turns here.” (See photo on this page.)