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May 5, 2019

Chasing the Snow

Lately, I've been riding my bike a lot, chasing the snow back as it melts from the trails around Idaho Springs.

Like, this last winter was just so bad there aren't words. It was the worst winter we've ever had in the 20 years I've been in Peaceful Hills.

(This excludes the blizzards of 1997, and 2003, but if you ignore those blizzards, it's the worst winter I've ever suffered through since I moved to Colorado in 1996).

So now, every day, I get onto the Africa Twin, and ride around, exploring trails I've not ridden in a long time, discovering new trails, and harassing strangers on motorcycles.

Finally, I changed the oil on the Africa Twin this week for the first time since I bought it. The bike had 26,000 miles on it when I did the first oil change.

Today, I broke down and lubed the chain. It needs to be tightened, but at least I oiled it.

I have recently discovered a new trail out of Idaho Springs that I was previously unaware of. appropriately enough, it is named Hidden Wilderness Road. It climbs up the North face of Santa Fe mountain. I've been up it a couple of times now, but it is snowed in about 1/2 way up. In theory, I should be able to ride up it, across Santa Fe Mountain, and connect with a Jeep Trail to Pat Creek Rd to Beaver Brook Canyon Rd CR 182 to CR 181.

But, it's still snowed in about 1/2 way up Hidden Wilderness Road.

So, today, I'm riding around in Evergreen and I see a guy with a bike exactly like mine. 2017 Africa Twin, and he heads up Upper Bear Creek, so I chase him down. He wants to go up to the top of Mount Evans. I assure him that there's no way in hell he can get any higher than Echo Lake. So we agree to ride up to Echo Lake and I'll lead since he lives down the hill and I pretty much own Squaw Pass at this point.

"Watch for gravel on the road...they put down a lot of sand and gravel in the winter. We'll cross into Clear Creek County...always watch for changes in the sand/gravel when we cross county lines. Watch for deer, elk, moose, foxes, lions, etc. Do that...we should be OK.

So I lead and we roll up to Echo Lake. As I predicted, it's 1/2 frozen and the road to Mount Evans is not open. A Clear Creek County Sheriff's Deputy tells us that they're hoping to open it on Memorial Day weekend, but not certain they'll make it.

Now, he's got to turn back and head back to Franktown, CO, but I'm just getting started. So, I wave him off and head down Squaw Pass towards Idaho Springs, this time.

13 miles from Idaho Springs to the entrance to Mount Evans Road near Echo Lake.
18 miles from Mount Evans Road near Echo Lake to Evergreen Parkway (Colorado State Highway 74).

So, I roll down towards Idaho Springs. I think I did West Chicago Creek yesterday. The camp is not open yet, but I manage to drive around the gates and access the campground. Then, I try to ride up to the like but I get up into some snow and somehow turn around without crashing.

Next, I get to Cascade Creek. So, I head up Cascade Creek. It's got some pretty aggressive hills in it. Some people at a shooting range in the national forest near the entrance. Then, I keep going up Cascade Creek, and it turns right and starts climbing a little steeper than I feel comfortable. This is where I wish I was on a smaller bike, so I turn back and keep rolling towards Idaho Springs.

Lunch at Carl's Junior at Idaho Springs. Now, up Stanley Road, the frontage road to I-70, to North Spring Gulch Road, Road 271.

I'm following a couple of jackasses in a little imported red car up North Spring Gulch Road and, at some point, they turn and climb a steep hill and I follow them. They claim I'm on private property, and that the road ends here, basically. Just a lie, as the map clearly shows that it turns into Forest Service Road 173.1.

So, they're just lying, but I turn back because I don't feel like shooting anyone today. Not just yet, anyway.

Now, backtrack, and take Stanley Road up to Dumont.

At Dumont, I go up Mill Creek Road / 261 for a distance. 2.8 miles in, Mill Creek Road and 261 split. If you keep going straight up, it dead ends. So, you dogleg at 2.8 miles and follow 261/Colombine Drive. After a short distance, the road ends at a fence and, although Google Maps shows 261/Colombine Drive continuing, in reality, you can't go past the fence unless you're on foot, for whatever reason.

It looks like the total length of Squaw Pass Road is 31 miles.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 5, 2019 at 9:35 PM


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