In December 2014 the Wheeler Peak Wilderness boundary was redrawn and now this loop is legal to ride. Good thing, because it was amazing. Our loop was 14.4 miles with 2398’ climbing. It is tough rewarding riding that tops out at 11,553’. This is high alpine mountain biking with views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and valleys around Red River.
We started out riding up a forest road to the East Fork Trailhead. The singletrack climbs immediately up into the forest, steeply at times. It’s rocky and rooty and for us a bit chilly since the sun hadn’t crested the mountains to warm it yet. Reaching The Big Ditch, we stopped to read the sign. The Big Ditch was built in 1868 by Moreno Valley Water and Mining Company to transfer water from the Upper Red River Watershed to the gold fields in the valley for placer mining. The ditch was 41 miles in length and ran from 1869 to 1898.
The climbing continues and after crossing Red River the forest became more high alpine with old spruce and fir trees. Everything was incredibly green and fragrant. Our first view of the valley below was rewarding and the avalanche scree field crossings that followed were fun. We continued on up and up to Lost Lake. Wow! What a treat to pop out at such a quiet, pretty alpine lake. If we were backpackers I could see staying the night up here.
The descent didn’t disappoint. I activated the bear bell and flew down. The first couple miles cross more steep avalanche chutes and rock fields and then the trail opens up and is fast and flowy. Switchbacks and rocky traverses flew by and before we knew it we were done. If I did this loop again, I’d definitely reverse and ride counter clockwise. Great Loop!