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Tags:
Level: Intermediate
Length: 8 mi (12.9 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Lariat
Elevation: +5,525/4 ft
Total: 77 riders
 

Mountain Biking Ringtail / Swallowtail

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#99 of 1,344 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#935 in the world

The 3.5-mile Ringtail Trail begins on Nelson Open Space, off of Swallowtail Trail. Ringtail Trail climbs into the 308-acre Pike Hill Open Space, gaining elevation and entering Pike National Forest where it continues for an additional 2.8 miles until linking with the Pike National Forest's Indian Creek Trail. The Indian Creek Trailhead and Campground is an additional 1.6 miles south of this connection.

First added by searsandrewj on Apr 30, 2020. Last updated Apr 30, 2020. → add an update
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Getting there
Hikers and horse riders may access from Sharptail Ridge Trailhead. From Hwy 85 (Santa Fe) turn west on Titan Parkway and drive 2 miles to Roxborough Road; turn left and drive south for 3.7 miles on gravel road; Sharptail trailhead on the left. NOTE: Hikers and horse riders accessing from Sharptail Trailhead must travel approximately 8 miles before reaching the eastern end of Ringtail Trail.

Multiple users, including mountain bikes and pets on a leash, can access from the Indian Creek Trailhead of Pike National Forest; however access from Indian Creek Trail does require a daily parking fee of $4 (7/04 price). Note: From the Indian Creek Trailhead to the western end of Ringtail Trail is a distance of approximately 5.7 miles.
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Ringtail / Swallowtail Trail map

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Jonathan Hodges (on Jun 19, 2019)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Sep 18, 2016)
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Q: 12257 south wadsworth

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Reviews

  • John Fisch
    ****

    Be advised Swalowtail is off limits to bikes. As such, the only legal way to ride this is as an out and back from the Indian Creek Trailhead. The problem is that makes this a "reverse profile" ride, meaning you finish the out portion with a long downhill and then you have to re climb it on the way back. Nevertheless, there is some very sweet singletrack here. After the initial climb, which is actually very pleasant, there is a long downhill which starts out blurry fast and flowy, and then gets steeper in grade, tighter in turns, and looser in the surface the closer you get to the bottom. Then you have to work your way back up that monster. Still, pretty well worth it. Too bad the don't open up at least a couple segments of Swallowtail so this could be done as an out and back from the bottom rather than the top--or even as a loop with the Indian Creek area trails.

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  • Jmurphy8776
    ****

    I rode about 9K in and back from the Indian Creek trail head. The initial 3K of uphill was pretty pleasant. Once you hit the top there was a long stretch of forest single track that was a lot of fun. Out of the forest, the trail started to become some heavy rock wash, not much fun. Underestimated the long climb back - harder than I thought. Lastly, some parts of the single track do not allow for much visibility to see what's ahead so on a crowded day, there could be consequences.

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  • BNSparling

    Wasted a couple hours trying to get to this trail today and never did. Douglas County directions are to access through Sharptail Open Space on Roxborough Park Road.
    http://www.douglas.co.us/dcoutdoors/openspace-properties/nelson-ranch-open-space/

    Try #1 - Sharptail is closed for hunting through late Nov. But there are permanent signs saying the trail is not open to Mtn Bikes.
    Try #2 - Google maps sends you through Roxborough Park golf community (not the State Park). There's a guarded but I talked my way through. Drove through to the end. Theres a closed gate with signs stating no motor vehicles beyond. But there are signs saying you'll be towed without a community sticker. It would've been about a mile on dirt road to the trailhead from here.
    Try #3 - Went back around through the town of Sedalia and tried to access from Hwy 67 and W. Rainbow Creek Road. This looked possible on Google satellite imagery, but no joy. More gates. Private property.

    Perhaps I'll try again after hunting season. Anyone who's ridden this trail before - please explain how you got there. If through Sharptail - did it used to be open to MtB? If Sharptail is permanently closed, Ringtail may not be a viable trail any longer.

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  • Matt Meaney

    The trailhead was closed to mtb when we were there this a.m. bummer because I was looking for a easier trail for my son that was near 80128

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  • Matt Meaney

    The trailhead was closed to mtb when we were there this a.m. bummer because I was looking for a easier trail for my son that was near 80128

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  • Patrick Williams
    *****

    Very fun trail. Good variety of terrain from aspen/pine forests to brushland. Better to backtrack on Ringtail than to take the jeep road near Roxborough in my opinion.

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  • greggweiss
    ***

    This is really nice singletrack with great views. Swallowtail loop has some interesting switchbacks and rock formations to cross. Nothing technically difficult, but its a healthy climb back to Indian Creek Trailhead.

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  • gar00vy
    ****

    This trail system is not in Roxborough State Park. You cannot access it from the state park since they do not allow mtn bikes. The loops must be accessed from the Indian Creek trail (@~7500 feet in elevation). The loops are @!6400 feet in elevaiton. Its fun getting there, fuin around the loops, and a climb back to the car

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  • pdinsurance
    *****

    Very impressive singletrack with epic views of the front range, Red Rocks, and Nelson Open Space. Start at indian creek trail head, take indian creek trail to RingTail Trail, and go clockwise around swallowtail loops. Everything was marked really well. This is a 4.5 star cross country ride. Had to knock off a half point due to sand and overgrown vegetation.

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  • mtb_rider_guy
    *****

    This is a great ride although there are no technical sections to speak of. You should probably allow about 3 hours or so for the entire ride and take lots of water. It’s also probably best to ride early in the day or wait until the early spring or late fall. The first 4 miles or so is all beautiful forested single-track until you leave the Pike National forest boundary. From there it becomes very exposed to the elements for the rest of the descent to the Swallowtail loops and then the climb back up. I think it was a little over 20 miles for me round trip.

    Starting from Indian Creek TH you will climb about 1.5 miles to the intersection where you will see a sign for the Ringtail Trail. From here you will climb about another .5 miles then descends for another 3 – 4 miles to the bottom of Nelson Ranch Open Space. The descent from the forest boundary is on an old dirt road and you feel like you can get some serious speed up on this super long downhill (maybe 1000+ ft. descent). Here the trail intersects with the Swallowtail Trail which consists of two loops totaling approximately 3.5 miles in length with striking red rocks, sections over and around these huge rocks, sandy sections and a unique geological perspective of the hogback. The Swallowtail trail down here is overgrown in spots from lack of use but not too hard to follow if you look carefully. Just remember to be prepared for the climb back as there is really no other way out once you get to the bottom.

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  • Blue_Falcon
    *****

    This trail was real nice. It took about 3.5 hours starting at Indian Creek trailhead. Look forward to some long climbs and some real fast downhill.

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