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Sweetness in Sycamore

Sweetness in Sycamore

The other day, someone remarked to me that mountain biking in Sycamore Canyon was good "for distance", but that there wasn't much singletrack or technical riding. While I'm happy that Sycamore's secrets are well-kept, I don't think anyobody is well-served by misinformation. More bikers out having fun can only lead to more recognition and support from land and trail management agencies.

So, a few favorite trails in Sycamore Canyon:

Arts Trail
Often missed, find the north end of the Arts Trail by heading up the paved fire road to where you'd normally pick up Sin Nombre. Take a hard right turn about 30 yards in, and have fun. A couple of mean, dusty climbs, rocky descents, and a white-knuckle stream crossing provide the fun.
This trail, more than any other in Sycamore, lets me know what kind of shape I'm in. For some reason, when I'm tired or weak, this trail feels rutted and rocky. And when I'm riding well, it's a smooth, fun climb. (I've never ridden down Sage.)
This is a great climb (not as hard as it looks), and a fun descent, but isn't really "technical". But it is by far the funnest way to get to the top of ...
Wood Canyon Vista Trail
Excellent swoopy descent. Sharp corners, a few rocky sections, and excellent views. (Though you'll be concentrating on the trail too much to really appreciate them.)
Two Foxes and Sin Nombre
These two trails run down the middle of Sycamore Canyon, and are very, very non-technical. Speedy singletrack that runs gently downhill for the length of the canyon. However, given how nice Arts Trail, Guadalasca, and Wood Canyon Vista are, I usually ride this northward. So to me they're gently uphill, and a fantastic alternative to trudging back up the Sycamore Cyn Fire Rd.
Hidden Pond
I'm not sure whether Hidden Pond is off limits to bikes. Several maps say it is, but signage out in the park is ambiguous. That said, Hidden Pond provides a challenging, gravelly climb from the fire road west of the Sage Trail, and a very pleasant roll along the ridgeline. After that, it gets pretty gnarly, however, with (for me) unrideable switchbacks and thick brush along the trail. It meets up with the northern tip of the Arts Trail, and if you head north along Hidden Pond from that intersection, there's a really fun section that winds through the trees for a while. Again, not sure if this is in bounds for bikers. Ride at your own risk.

My favorite loop (map):

  1. Head down Sycamore Canyon Rd into the canyon.
  2. RIGHT at the first bridge onto Ranch Center Rd.
  3. LEFT at the "ROAD CLOSED" sign onto the beginnnig of Sin Nombre
  4. RIGHT just a few yards in, onto Arts Trail
  5. RIGHT onto Sage
  6. LEFT onto Ranch Center Rd.
  7. BEAR LEFT at the storage barn onto Wood Canyon Rd.
  8. RIGHT onto Guadalasca
  9. LEFT onto Overlook Fire Rd.
  10. LEFT just past "Hell Hill" onto Wood Canyon Vista Trail
  11. LEFT onto Sycamore Fire Rd.
  12. BEAR LEFT onto Wood Canyon Fire Rd.
  13. RIGHT after just a few yards onto Two Foxes
  14. CONTINUE across Ranch Center Fire Rd. onto Sin Nombre
  15. BEAR LEFT when the trail splits to stay on Sin Nombre
  16. RIGHT onto Ranch Center Rd.
  17. LEFT after the bridge and back up Sycamore Canyon Rd.
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