Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mountain Biking Centennial Cone

Centennial Cone trail
Mt. biking
16.7miles from Mayhem Gulch, ~2 hours

I had some time on a beautiul weekday afternoon and access to the car, so went to check out Centennial Cone in Jefferson County, which has been on the list for awhile. My friend Aric mentioned several years ago that I'd like it, and it didn't disappoint. But, due to use, it has a weekend alternate-use schedule (odd days hike, even days bike), so it just seemed like a good one to check out on a weekday.

Although there are several parking lots, I started at Mayhem Gulch and did a clockwise loop, which means you start with a solid 20-30 minute climb. I recommend starting from that lot so you hit all the trails. I couldn't discern a noticeable "better" direction ride the loop once you're on it -- it looked like there were fun features in both directions -- so I think I'll try it CC next time. The only bummer spots are tight switchbacks with water bars on either side of Elk Creek, and some of the unshaded spots could probably get pretty hot. I'd like to come do this on a cool morning sometime. Otherwise, there are definitely some fun, rolling smooth sections where you can get some speed. Feels more like So Cal riding than Front Range for the most part. I think I prefer Buffalo Creek a tad more for scenic variety and a bit more length, but sand is much less of an issue here: the sandy spots are not too deep and are on straightaways when you still have speed, just blast straight through!

Unlike what I just said about Bergen Peak, would I trail run here? Or hike? Probably not so much, at least as a loop, as the Elk Range and Mayhem sections are fun, long gradual smooth downhills on a bike, but not as interesting on foot. I would probably focus on the Travois trail section for running, as it's shaded and a tad steeper.

A good ride overall, great on a weekday. Fall colours starting to show a bit in the underbrush and some of the trees.

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