The Mountain Bike Trails I Didn’t Ride

At the age of 23 I am still pretty young but I’d like to think I’ve already learned some valuable lessons thanks to my unique life experiences. One of the lessons I’ve learned, but that I need to be reminded of often, is to live in the present and not take anything for granted.

This lesson can be applied in many different ways, some of them very serious, very deep ways. But when it comes to mountain biking, I would rephrase it this way: Don’t take any opportunity to ride a new trail or to travel for granted, saying “Oh, I’ll get around to riding it someday.” You never know where life will take you, and you may never get the chance to ride the trail that you passed on.

Having lived in six different cities in four different states within three years of graduating high school (I’ve been in the same place for the last two), I’ve moved around a good bit, and have left many trails in my wake that I wish I had ridden. Many times I thought I’d be returning to that same town in a few months, only to have God point my life in a totally different direction.

Without further ado, here are a few of the trails I never took the time to ride, but that I hope I will be able to visit some time in the future:

Gallatin Crest Trail, Bozeman, Montana

Photo from MontanaMountainBikeAlliance.com

I drove through Bozeman twice, and I meant to check out the riding there both times, especially on my second time through town… but I never did. Shortly after I left Montana, I learned about the amazing riding available on the Gallatin Crest Trail: the absolute best trails in the state of Montana! I also learned about how those trails had been wrongfully closed to mountain bikers.

Since I didn’t take the chance to ride in Bozeman when I could, I sadly will probably never get to experience the crowning jewel of Montana singletrack from the saddle of a mountain bike.

Trail 7, Bigfork, Montana

Thankfully, this trail and the rest of the trails on this list are still open, so if I ever journey back to Montana, I am going to seize the day and ride it! From what I’ve heard, Trail #7, despite the unexceptional name, is one of the best trails in the Flathead Valley. Based on swirling rumors and hazy guidebook descriptions, this trail runs about 20-30 miles along the high-alpine crest of the majestic Swan Range. I’m not sure how best to navigate this epic route, but if I ever get back to the area, I am definitely going to find out!

Vernal, Utah

Photo by david_darling.

This one wasn’t totally my fault: I had no idea there was as much as a drop of singletrack in Vernal when I drove through it on my way from Colorado to Montana. There were no trails listed for Vernal here on Singletracks at that time, and it was only after I read a feature magazine article about it a few months later that I realized what I had missed.

Apparently, despite having flown under the radar for so long, Vernal boasts true destination-worthy desert singletrack that is said to rival that of Fruita and Moab. I can tell you this: if I ever drive through Vernal again, I’ll be stopping!

Ashley Mountain, Whitefish, Montana

Just one of the many trails near where I lived in Montana, I never had the chance to ride this one either. It’s described in my cryptic locals’ guidebook as:

A sweet loop ride consisting of a gravel road climb, plenty of fine, undulating Montana singletrack, finished off with one of the finest singletrack descents known to man. Almost all of the descending on this ride is on Singletrack. Make sure your brakes are working! (About 17 miles total.)

If that doesn’t get your mouth watering, I don’t know what will!

Hartman Rocks, Gunnison, Colorado

Photo: mudhunny.

I’ve driven through Gunnison at least three times now, and I have yet to ride the trails at Hartman Rocks. The first time I was in Gunnison, I actually tried to ride Hartmans, but had to turn around after just a few hundered yards due to a mechanical. It took all day to get repaired at the shop, and by the time it was done I was just ready to be on my way up to Crested Butte.

Sadly, the most recent times I drove through in 2011 I knew what I was missing out on, but with mouthwatering alpine trails just up the road in Crested Butte, it’s hard to pause 30 miles south of the destination that you’ve literally driven across the country to reach.

Kenosha Pass, Colorado

Photo: Collin1983.

I spent a summer in 2008 living just 30-45 minutes down the road from this trail. I rode its sister trail, Kenosha Pass to Lost Creek Wilderness, at least two or three times. Why I never crossed the highway and rode on the other side, I don’t remember. After reading the tantalizing description of this trail posted on the blog by maddslacker, I have really been kicking myself. One of the best trails on the front range of Colorado, I lived so close, and I never rode it? What was I thinking?

Thankfully, it looks like this regret won’t be a regret for much longer. We have a trip in the works for this summer, and for part of the trip we will be spending time in this area of Colorado. I won’t let this opportunity pass me by again!

Success Story: Trail 401, Crested Butte, Colorado

Photo: mtbgreg1.

I passed through Crested Butte, Colorado during a trip from Colorado to Montana in 2008. Along the way I was riding every great mountain bike trail I could find, and I had spent the past three days riding some truly world-class trails: Monarch Crest, Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman’s, and Snodgrass. But after having just spent 2-3 weeks off of the bike due to a concussion and then jumping back on and riding about 60 miles in less than three days, I decided to hit the road and head towards Wyoming to give my legs a break. In doing so, I had to make the tough choice to pass on Trail 401, then ranked as the second best trail in the nation.

I had always regretted that decision, but this past summer I was able to make it right. We took a trip to the Crested Butte area and Trail 401 was at the top of the list of trails I wanted to ride. After three years of waiting, I was finally able to return to the area and ride the trail that I had been dreaming about for so long!

My return to Trail 401 truly felt like a success story, and it’s a story I want to repeat with as many of the trails listed above as I possibly can.

What about you? What trails do you regret not riding?

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