With my friend Chris Webster up in the mountains with no real plan other than escaping the 100 degree heat that has been plaguing the front range, and looking for a riding partner, I decided to head over to the Arkansas valley for some Colorado Trail riding. While I had been on much of this segment in the past, from Mt Massive to Twin Lakes, I hadn’t completed it and it seemed like a good choice to utilize a shuttle. It’s a fairly quick shuttle, with both trailheads close to Highway 24.
The Halfmoon creek area is very popular, with trailheads for both Mt Massive and Mt Elbert- in fact I would even guess that it is the most popular trailhead outside the Denver metro area and Monarch Crest. Just something to consider, as this would possibly make for a better ride mid-week or in the fall. Even so, it wasn’t really that crowded and it was only in a couple of areas (near both the Mt Elbert trailheads and the North shore of Twin Lakes). Riding this section in the Den-Dur direction is recommended, since there is a 1,000′ drop in trailhead elevation and the climbs from Clear Creek and Twin Lakes in the opposite direction would be rough (but doable as an out and back if needed).
On to photos:
The descent to Twin Lakes is fun and the backdrop is pretty amazing.
Once you reach Twin Lakes, there are several miles of gravelly sagebrush riding on the shores of the lakes- quite a unique section of trail. Eventually you cross the bridge and enter the forest once again on the North side of the lake, when the temps finally drop again.
The climb out of Twin lakes isn’t too bad, and leads to more great riding (hey, it’s the CT, that happens constantly). One navigation note- there is a 100 yard stretch in this zone that is inexplicably grassy and it may seem like you’re off-route, but the trail quickly reverts back to a normal width.
Don’t fall off bridges, Chris! 🙂
Final descent towards Clear Creek:
That’s it for this segment- 22.7 miles, 2 hours 45 minutes, 2,900′ up and 4,000′ down. It’s a good one, and one of the more straightforward. Stay tuned for more CT reports, as I completed 3 other sections on this quick 2-day trip.