On the Trail: Lee’s Way in Avon
Suitable for: Mountain biking, trail running
Total descent: 880 feet
Total distance: Two miles
Upper trailhead: Beaver Creek Point, parking available
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The town’s new Lee’s Way trail, located in the West Avon Preserve, has a double black diamond sign at the top indicating that it’s an experts-only trail. For mountain bikers, that means you’re going to want to make sure your skills are up and your seat is down before embarking on this very technical descent.
The trail, named after local trail enthusiast Lee Rimel, is best accessed from the Beaver Creek Point trailhead in Avon’s Wildridge neighborhood, where there’s parking available. It can be accessed in other ways, however, via adjoining trails in the West Avon Preserve like Playground Way or Saddleridge. Lee’s Way is a one-way trail, downhill only, so if you’re accessing it from a point other than the Beaver Creek Point trailhead you’re going to have some uphill riding to get there.
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Once on the Lee’s Way descent, you notice some fun rollers at the top. BMX riders and those who prefer the freeride side of mountain biking can catch plenty of air on these, and Average Joes will enjoy pumping over those rollers in an attempt to keep their speed up.
But let’s not forget that Lee’s Way, like all the trails in the West Avon Preserve, is a multi-use trail. Downhill hikers and trail runners will probably enjoy the top section of Lee’s Way more than the bottom, as the steeps and hairpin turns you’re about to encounter will require the on-foot trail users to either open up their stride, or risk sliding down on their hindquarters. Regardless, the trail was constructed with care by Momentum Trail Concepts, so if you’re a downhill hiker forced to slide down the steeps, you won’t have to worry as much about injuring yourself on jagged rocks and exposed roots like you might on other downhill trails in the valley.
GRADES OF 20 PERCENT OR HIGHER
Once you’re into the steeps, you’re really into it. The trail’s average grade is 8 percent but some of the short steeps contain grades of 20 percent or higher. The trail has been described by users as both a roller coaster and a washing machine, and for good reason. The steeps will send your stomach into your chest like a thrill ride might, and the tight switchbacks will have you sloshing back and fourth like so many pairs of dirty cycling socks after a great day on the trails.
When you’re in the main part of the action on Lee’s Way, you won’t have much of a chance to look around and appreciate your surroundings. But after a few runs you may get comfortable enough to take notice of the many hawks and falcons that inhabit the area, and the plethora of sagebrush along the sides of the trail. A keen eye may even spot the occasional yellow warbler resting in a pinyon or juniper pine.
The trail is south facing, gets plenty of sun and will remain usable into November and December some years. It will close from December 15 to April 15, and during the years we experience a dryer than average winter it will be more than ready by that April 15 opening.
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