Durango has an incredible selection of mountain bike trails accessible from town, making it difficult to decide where to begin. It’s no wonder Durango’s Fort Lewis college consistently fields one of the best collegiate mountain bike teams in the country with world-renowned trails like Telegraph / Horse Gulch literally in their backyard. Over the summer I spent a week in Durango, CO and got a chance to check a couple new trails off my wishlist while I was there.
Ned Overend is a mountain biking legend and he just so happens to call Durango home. A local trail system is named in his honor and it’s conveniently located just across the river from downtown.
It was a hot day with temperatures in the 90s when mudhunny and I hit the Overend trails. We planned out a loop that would take us around the park, starting with Crestview and Hidden Valley trails. The riding was dusty and exposed with a few sandy spots down low but as we ascended the tree cover offered welcome relief. The first descent we hit was down a trail called Star Wars which was surprisingly steep but flowed really well.
From Star Wars we could see a steep ridgeline trail above us that we assumed had to be some sort of renegade trail–no one would build such a steep, exposed line in a public park. Consulting our map, however, we realized this was the Hogback trail, a double black diamond run–and with good reason.
We decided to hit Perin’s Gulch and Hogsfoot instead and were struck by the sheer speed of these trails. Sure, there were a few rocks thrown in for good measure but for the most part, it was rip and ride!
Before leaving mudhunny made a point of riding up, then descending Ned’s Hill, and opened it up like a pro! Although Overend Park only has about 7 miles of singletrack, we were spent after such a hot day in the sun.
Having ridden Telegraph, Overend, and the Dry Fork trails, I wanted to get a feel for a lesser known trail system in Durango so I chose the Log Chutes Trail System near the Colorado Trail terminus at Junction Creek. Log Chutes wasn’t listed in the Singletracks database which is always exciting–fresh dirt with no expectations!
Driving to the Log Chutes trailhead is a bit of a haul even though the trail system isn’t far outside of town. I had the trailhead parking lot to myself and set off solo with map in hand to explore.
Initially the trails were well marked, though calling them “trails” is generous–I would say most of what I found was doubletrack or even fire road. At the first hint of singletrack, I took a right turn and descended for about half a mile before stopping to consult my map. Apparently the trail I was on wasn’t an official trail and I was now in what appeared to be a residential development that never got off the ground. I looped around the abandoned, grass-covered roadbed and ascended the singletrack back into the trail system.
I followed Log Chute Canyon Trail #1 around to the edge of the mountain and caught glimpses of the Animas Valley thousands of feet below. I wanted to stick to the edge of the trail system to get the most bang for my buck and eventually found myself walking up a hike-a-bike section that seemed to go on forever. Like the other trails I had ridden in the Log Chutes Trail System, even this climb was doubletrack.
I eventually topped out at the High Pine Trail and hung a left to continue my sweeping loop. This meant riding down a gravel road that is open to cars for a bit but the singletrack that was to come made it all worthwhile.
According to my map, Log Chutes Trail #1 was on the right side of the road and sure enough after a mile or two, there it was. Ducking into the singletrack I immediately found multiple lines through the woods, including some with aggressive ramps and wooden structures–not what I’d expected to find in a National Forest. Later I learned from the local mountain bike club that they were working with park rangers to clean up and re-route portions of this particular trail.
The second half of Log Chutes Trail #1 was a blur–it was a fast, steep descent down to the Junction Creek Campground. Here the trail comes within steps of the Colorado Trail and offers some of the best (official) singletrack I was able to find.
As you would expect, our time in Durango was great and we barely scratched the singletrack surface. We also got to ride Phil’s World in nearby Cortez for the first time, but that’s another story for another day.
What’s your favorite thing about the mountain biking in Durango?