Try Eagle’s singletrack sidewalks, 4th of July Road climb and MTB trails
Climbing Fourth of July Road on Tuesday may not be as thrilling as skiing Christmas on Christmas, but the nearby Bailey’s descent certainly is.
For a fun and festive — and family friendly — mountain bike ride today, try the Eagle Ranch area and the Fourth of July Road climb, which has a nice bike lane running alongside it allowing access to the nearby Arroyo Drive trailhead.
To get there, the singletrack sidewalks along Eagle Ranch Road are an attraction in themselves. Parking is ample surrounding the downtown area of Eagle Ranch, and nearby singletrack sidewalks offer a little warm-up section on the way to get to the really good trail riding. After cruising them up to Fourth of July Road, the fresh pavement on the bike path that runs alongside Fourth of July Road will give you a boost of speed for the climb that lies ahead. Settle in for about a mile of climbing, the bike lane may remind you a bit of Vail Pass, only with less cars and more houses. If you’re like me, then you’ll find yourself admiring those houses and their access to fun areas nearby. Indeed, the Eagle Ranch area looks like a nice spot to raise a biking family.
For those who want to skip the singletrack sidewalk and Fourth of July climb, the trailhead near Arroyo Drive and Fourth of July Road offers parking.
Looking down at the area from Fourth of July Road, the vista is wonderful, offering a glimpse of the great trail riding that you’re about to enjoy.
The various routes you can take from the Arroyo Drive trailhead are often called the Eagle Ranch Loops. The trails near there — 2nd Gulch, 3rd Gulch, Meyer Gulch and Bailey’s — all connect in different ways, offering long loops for people with lots of time, or quick 1-2 mile options people on limited schedules like myself. My favorite is taking the 2nd Gulch trail to the Bailey’s trail, named after local mountain biking legend John Bailey, who helped design the course for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, along with a lot of the trails in Eagle. The climb is honest — you can pretty much see the top from the bottom — and the descent down Bailey’s is one of the best quick-hit runs in the valley, offering some moderate log obstacles and a few banked turns. It’s challenging, but not too hard, and before you know it, the downhill is over and you’re weaving through the sagebrush in the flat section near the trailhead.
The annual Eagle Ranch Classic mountain bike race is the biggest annual showcase of the area, attracting hundreds. After getting to know the Eagle Ranch Loops, you may want to enter the race.
I remember interviewing Barry Parent there last year, which brings up a final word of advice. The lifelong skateboarder became a dad, moved to Eagle and took up mountain biking. In that order.
Barry’s face was pretty scratched up when he crossed the finish line at last year’s Eagle Ranch Classic. He said he got caught in the sagebrush at the bottom of Bailey’s, which can happen in the softer sand that the trail contains. If you don’t want to be like Barry, then take it slow (but not too slow), concentrate on not touching the sage, and you’ll be fine.