New trails are opening in a Colorado town known for mining and gambling thanks to the efforts of Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA) and the Boulder Mountainbike Alliance (BMA). Maryland Mountain in Black Hawk, 30 miles outside of Denver will open with 12 miles of trails for hiking, running, and mountain biking, with four mountain bike specific, downhill-only trails complete by 2022.
The City of Black Hawk acquired the 600-acre piece of land and COMBA was able to get involved with the process and advocate for mountain bike specific trails. COMBA and BMA have contributed close to 3,000 hours of volunteer work, amongst over 60 different volunteers. The trails come as mountain biking has blossomed near the urban corridor of Colorado, and congestion has spiked along existing trails in Jefferson County.
“Hard Money, and The Sluice at Floyd Hill, are important milestones for riding in this area because they offer the experience mountain bikers seek but rarely find – the ability to roll with momentum and ride uninterrupted,” Gary Moore, the executive director of COMBA told us in an email. “No stopping and yielding to other trail users or bikes coming uphill. These designated use trails also demonstrate how much more enjoyable it can be to enjoy your activity fully and without conflict for all trail groups. Bi-directional, multi-use trails only work to a certain point and the Front Range is well beyond that point already. We need trails managed for specific trail experiences.”
“Natural, sustainable outdoor recreation is growing exponentially in Colorado as more communities tune in to the benefits for their communities,” said Moore. “The Maryland Mountain system is already fantastic with 12 miles of trails and designated use for hiking and biking to offer the best experiences. We are currently constructing and planning three additional bike-only trails in this system and it is already becoming a huge draw for Black Hawk.”
The Maryland Mountain trails open up four MTB-only trails, and several other multi-use trails. Hard Money, starts at 9,200 feet and descends 1,000 feet in about two miles. COMBA has rated this a blue-black trail, with flowy jumps, berms, and some rocky technical features, along with “easter eggs” and B-lines.
The Millsite Trail goes along the eastern and northern perimeter route through the most densely forested part of the park. The trail starts shaded, near a creek, making for more pleasant climbing. Rated as an intermediate trail, Millsite has an average grade of 6.4% with some punchy climbs here and there. COMBA says that this is the preferred route from the Hidden Treasure trailhead and the fastest way to the downhill trails when climbing Easy Money.
Easy Money is the main climbing trail for bikes and to the summit of Maryland Mountain. “You’ll be hard-pressed to spend any significant time on Maryland Mountain without utilizing this trail,” says COMBA. The trail gets more difficult near the top with rocks and switchbacks.
The Paymaster trail parallels historical mining remains of the mountain and is “a bit more suited to hiking than biking with some very tight switchbacks.” Riders who are new to the area will be able to easily spot mine tailings and relics from Colorado’s earlier days.
The Claim Jumper trail is also bike-optimized, but is multi-use and bi-directional. That said, COMBA notes that it’s more enjoyable with gravity.
Green Flow is a great trail for beginners, and has an easy surface with small rollers and berms. The main trailhead will be the Hidden Treasure lot. This should be the start of a new era of mountain biking, just beyond the Front Range of Colorado.
“We see a bright future for mountain biking, particularly bike-only descending trails, in the Gilpin and Clear Creek counties,” says Moore. “Over a period of less than five years, the MTB community will have new trail systems with purpose-built bike trails separated from other trail users at Maryland Mountain, Floyd Hill, and Virginia Canyon which are all within ten minutes of each other. With more than 40 total trail miles and maybe seven to eight bike-only descending trails, this region is going to become a destination for multi-day MTB trips that draws riders from far and wide.”