The eight ball points to Eagle for dirt pedaling |

The eight ball points to Eagle for dirt pedaling

Shauna Farnell
Preston Utley/Vail Daily A rider makes his way up one of the trails off of Fourth of July Road in Eagle. The trail system in Eagle is completely dry and open to spring mountain bikers looking for a closer option for dirt riding than Fruita, Buena Vista or the the Front Range

EAGLE COUNTY – It might be a while before the snow on the peaks disappears, but Eagle is ripe for spring riding.While many Vail Valley residents are packing up for trips to Denver, Buena Vista, Fruita and Moab in search of dirt, the trail system in Eagle is dry and ready to ride. “Eagle this time of year, that’s the spot,” said Brian Doyon of the Vail Recreation District, whose mountain bike race series kicks off May 25 in Eagle. “If you’re not going to Fruita, make the drive to Denver or Boulder, there are some great rides down there. Our snowpack seems to be sticking around.”The network of trails includes everything from bumpy Jeep road, smooth doubletrack to singletrack that winds up and over Hardscrabble Mountain outside of Eagle Ranch. Eco Trails is also working on expanding the trail system in East Eagle where The Boneyard singletrack is already dry and ready to ride, and has already completed a .8-mile connector on the race course in Eagle Ranch.

“That’s a good one because it connects two other singletracks,” said John Bailey, who is responsible for building several of the trails in the valley, including the majority of singletrack on Vail Mountain and the former World Championship mountain bike courses.”Up in Eagle Ranch, what it looks like now is wide open territory, but eventually, it’s going to be houses everywhere. With that, (the trail system) is in the open space area.” This means that regardless of how many houses are packed in, the open space trails will remain untouched.There is an access area to intermediate single and doubletrack behind Brush Creek Elementary in Eagle, leading to Tick Alley, Elk Drop, World’s Greatest, and Scratch, and Abrams trail can be accessed from the top of Abrams Creek Rd. The Maze loop can be accessed off of Spring Creek Rd.Bailey also pointed out that some of the dirt bike trail area in Wolcott is ready to ride, but mountain bikers should stick to low trails and avoid riding where there’s obvious thawing still taking place.

“That will be obvious when you’re riding,” Bailey said. “If the trail is built properly, then the water and melting snow should run off, but a tire track makes a place for the water to run. All it is diversion of water, to try not to let the water run on the trails. That’s where it’s helpful to not ride trails when they’re not ready.”Several trails in the area are closed for elk calving, and Eco Trails representatives point out that these trails, located in West Vail and on Meadow Mountain among other areas and which are marked “closed,” should absolutely not be used until they are opened. Despite the interference with calving, riders on wet trails often pedal around areas of deep mud and obstacles and thus widen the trail until it fails to bear any semblance to singletrack.As for upvalley residents looking to explore, maps of the Eagle trail system can be purchased at Mountain Peddler on Broadway in Eagle for $1.25, an investment worth making as regular upvalley riders suspect some of the higher trails won’t be rideable before July.

“From Edwards to Vail, about the only place to ride comfortably right now is Berry Creek in Edwards,” said Bruce Kelly of Pedal Power. “That loop has been dry for a while. I’m sure Piney (Lake Rd.) to the gate is probably dry. This year for some reason, maybe because of the late snow, it’s going to be longer than normal before things get dry. Because of how late the winter has been and how much precipitation we’ve had in April and early May, we haven’t really had really warm weather so the snow in the trees is still going to be snow. Vail Mountain on closing day is about as good as it’s ever looked on closing day. I’ve seen some cars parked at Meadow Mountain, but I’m sure they’re getting up to a certain point and having to come back down. Even the forest service and mountain service roads, you ride on them when they’re muddy and you’re doing damage to the road and damage to your bike. You accept the fate. You drive to Glenwood or Fruita to get your mountain bike fix. Or just go to Eagle. All of the stuff in Eagle from what I understand is dry.”Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or, Colorado

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