Thursday, March 26, 2015

Return to Pueblo Reservoir- Voodoo Loop and Canyon Trails

Last week I visited Pueblo Reservoir to mountain bike.  I had a great time riding the trails but only scratched the surface.  There are nearly 40 trails and more than 40 miles of riding.  I focused on more of the flowy cross country trails.  While I had fun on these trails, they are not overly technical.  There are quite a few more challenging trails that drop into the canyons in the trail system that offer more advanced riding on technical terrain.  There is also a longer cross country loop called Voodoo that I didn't get ride.  I decided to head back and ride some of the trails I missed.

The first mile of my ride retraced some trails I rode last week.  My goal was to start with a ride into the canyons.  The first trail into the canyons I hit was Freeride.  Freeride started with a steep drop from a trail called Rollercoaster.  Quickly the trail quickly narrowed into rocky terrain and then a nearly unrideable section that is spanned by wooden bridges.  There are a couple lines down the bridges to choose from but all are relatively steep with little room for error.  After clearing the bridges the trail continues a short distance over a fairly technical drop.  The excitement is short lived however as the trail quickly smooths as it leaves the technical stretch.  Freeride is only .3 miles long and quickly exits onto the lower part of Skull Canyon which is also fairly mellow by this point.

Dropping into Freeride
Bridges on a sketchy section of Freeride
A closer look at bridges, it's steeper than it looks
Freeride mellows out quickly
Then end of Skull Canyon brought me to South Shore.  I rode South Shore a short distance on a spur that followed immediately along the edge of the water.  A short stretch along the spur was actually flooded.  I took a detour on a short trail that I didn't ride before called Creekside.  At the end of Creekside I continued to Driftwood, which I rode last week.  From the end Driftwood I skipped Inner and Outer Limits and followed Pronghorn to the Voodoo Loop.

Riding a few feet from the water
Continuing along the water
Last week I attempted to ride the Voodoo Loop.  The loop is separated from the rest of the trails by an arm of the lake.  There are two trails that lead to the loop.  Early in the season both routes are accessible.  With snow melt and rising lake levels rising, the access trails to the loop are flooded.  The shorter approach is completely impassable due to water levels.  The lake is quite wide in the channel.  The other trail is less direct and ends at a narrow creek.  I turned around last time not aware exactly where the trail went.  After getting some details from other riders, I found out a short detour upstream allows you to cross the creek at a shallow spot.  I found the obvious crossing and was on my way.

A trailhead sign for Voodoo
Near the water crossing before the
start of the Voodoo Loop
The Voodoo Loop is the longest trail in the system.  According to the park map, the loop is 9 miles.  The trail winds through the prairie before reaching the shores of the lake.  The trail runs near the edge of the cliffs rising high above the lake.  At one point the trail was within 2 feet of the cliffs.  There are dips and climbs where the trail passes through washes along the way to break up the flat sections.  The trail is never too technical though.  Occasionally the trail passes through stands of juniper to break up the ride through prairie.

Riding through the prairie early on the loop
The singletrack appears to vanish into the lake
The trail is only a few feet from the cliffs at places
Heading into some Junipers
Nearing the end of the loop
Canyons across the water near the end of the loop
Voodoo had a similar feel to Inner and Outer Limits that I rode last week.  The scenery is consistent throughout with plenty of views of bluffs along the lake and mountains in the distance.  Voodoo is a worthwhile trail to ride.  The entire route is a fun ribbon of singletrack with good flow.  I was lucky enough to see some pronghorns grazing on the prairie while I was riding Voodoo.  At first I spooked a lone pronghorn.  It ran a little bit and joined a herd of about ten animals.  When they felt they were a safe distance they continued grazing before walking out of sight.

Male and female pronghorn
More pronghorn
The herd watching me from a safe distance
View riding away from Voodoo
After riding the Voodoo Loop, I was ready to explore more of the canyon trails.  The first trail I reached was Waterfall.  Waterfall dropped fairly steeply through a narrow canyon to Creekside.  Waterfall is one of the few technical trails on the west side of South Shore and the longest drop.

Looking back Waterfall at the steepest drop
Descending deeper in the canyon on the
tumbleweed lined trail
Leaving Waterfall on Creekside
After Waterfall, I was back in the main section of canyon trails.  I started with a ride up Stonehenge.  I climbed Stonehenge on a relatively easy trail.  Though somewhat technical, it didn't have any features that I couldn't clear as I climbed.  The most interesting feature on Stonehenge is the rockwork.  The trail passes a section of cairns built in interesting formations.  This rockwork is what gives Stonehenge its name.

Rocks on Stonehenge
Another formation on Stonehenge
Big area of rockwork on Stonehenge
Looking down the canyon on Stonehenge
My bike along a rock formation on Stonehenge
From the top of Stonehenge I headed to Rollercoaster and eventually descended my next canyon on Broken Hip.  Broken Hip started out steep but the crux of the trail is early.  After the crux, the trail continues downhill on fairly smooth singletrack before reaching South Shore.

View across the canyons
Another canyon view
Looking back at the steepest part of Broken Hip
I continued on South Shore toward the main trailhead.  I followed the same route as last week riding Conduit, The Duke, Rodeo, and Rodeo Ridge back to the Red Gate.  Rather than wrap up my ride however, I headed for one more canyon trail.  I descended Rock Canyon, which is one of the longest canyon trails.  Unlike the other canyon trails where the most technical section is near the beginning, Rock Canyon gets more technical as it descends.  In many places in the canyon, there are numerous lines to follow.  Compared to the other canyons that I rode, Rock Canyon seemed to have the longest stretch of technical riding.

Rock Canyon
Continuing in Rock Canyon
Rock Canyon ends at South Shore.  From South Shore I followed the windy singletrack of Cuatro Sinko back to the Red Gate.  By the time wrapped up the ride, I covered 30 miles in about 3 hours.  At least half of the riding was on trails that I didn't ride before.  Again, it was an enjoyable day mountain biking at Pueblo Reservoir.  For mountain bikers looking for off season riding while the higher elevations are still too messy to ride, Pueblo Reservoir is worth checking out.

Click on the link to see the map of trails Trail Map

To see more photos of the trails and scenery as well as descriptions of other trails you can see my previous blog post by clicking on the following link.  Mountain Biking Pueblo Reservoir

No comments:

Post a Comment