Sourdough Trail Ward Colorado

Sourdough Trail

This trail was recommended by quite a few people, and I was very excited about riding this trail for the first time.. But did my excitement last?


Trail Stats & Information

Nearby City: Ward
Length: 12.2 total miles
Trail Type: Out-and-Back
Skill Level: Technically moderate. Physically moderate to challenging
Duration: Advanced Riders, 2 – 2.5 hours; Intermediate Riders, 3 – 3.5 hours
Season: May to October
Trailhead Elev: 9200 feet
Top Elev: 1020 feet

Guide Book Description

The Sourdough Trail skirts the fringes of the beautiful Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. The drive alone from Boulder to the trailhead is reason enough to head for the Sourdough Trail. While traveling along the Boulder Canyon, multi-sport adventurers can stop to enjoy great climbing and hiking opportunities, before continuing on Colorado’s famed Peak-to-Peak highway. Once on the trail, however, the fun really starts. The Sourdough Trail is almost entirely covered beneath a thick forest canopy, providing cool, shaded relief the whole ride through. Although the climb to Brainard Lake is challenging (but enjoyable) the descent is what you ride it for. A fast and smooth descent through a thick emerald forest will have you screaming: “There’s no place like here and now.” Terrain: Singletrack, plus some paved and dirt road if optional loop is taken

My Experience

I started the ride at the Sourdough Trailhead off Country Road 116. The trail was well marked, and I was eager to ride on this sunny day. Within 5 minutes I was puffing, panting and cursing the baby heads, but I kept going, telling myself things could only get better!!.. Well, things only got worse. The lose rocks combined with the root carpet was killing me, and I was having traction issues that forced me into higher gear, a gear that was slightly too high for this ride, and I was knackered with about 2.5 hours ahead of me. I kept my head high, assuring myself it was going to be worth every minute of the grunt. But it never came, after a +2 hour slaughter, I reached the turn around point.. now I knew for sure that I really did not like this trail, it was like riding on a dry creek. Yes, the ride back was much faster, about 40 min. but it was a hell of a bumpy ride, and I was lucky that I actually managed to stay on the bike.
This trail really confuses me, cos quite a few people recommended it, the books say it is the BEST singletrack in the Boulder area, and I read it was a very scenic trail.. ??? I, for the life of me cannot see what is appealing with this trail.. I am even seriously considering doing it again, just to see if I missed something along the way!!

Other Info:

Traffic on Trail : Two Mountain Bikers from Nebraska, and One Down Hiller walking his (very nice) bike
Wild Life : None
Scenery : None at all scenic (in Sept)
Other : This trail is like riding on a dry creek

My Trail Rating :  3 / 10


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  1. wow. maybe you should stick to those weak trails in Nebraska.

  2. old hobbit says:

    This trail has deteriorated badly over the past dozen years; I once considered it a fast training ride, on a softtail, but was horribly disappointed a couple years ago having not ridden it in a decade. This is not uncommon, unfortunately, in areas like the mountains, where once-smoother trails, especially those originally established as winter cross-country systems, became popular MTB rides, and quickly degraded as the packed dirt wore away to the loose cobbles that were covered before. There is no good solution, I’m afraid, other than to go long, full-suspension, and up your tolerance for mediocre riding experiences.

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