Like most of her fellow mountain bike enthusiasts who live in Eagle, Laura Turitz’s trailhead is her garage.
“There are so many things about Eagle that are ideal for mountain biking, including accessibility, variety of terrain, and really fun trails,” shares Turitz, co-writer of Mountain Bike Eagle, a printed and online guide to riding in the area. This community on the western side of the Vail Valley is all about cranking on dirt, and now with Gypsum’s new Dry Lake Motocross Park open for its first full season, motorized bike riders can get rolling on down valley trails as well.
When the seasonal wildlife closure ends in April, Eagle trails are often in prime riding condition long before summer hits.
“So we have a nice long season, which is great,” says Turitz. “We also have a variety of terrain, so especially with Haymaker which is a trail that was purpose-built for the mountain bike race series — it’s a really great beginner trail and a perfect place to teach your kids.” Haymaker also welcomes trail runners and hikers year-round, along with fat-tire bikers in the winter.
Eagle’s local trails group is called the Hardscrabble Trails Coalition. Turitz says the group advocates for the trails and works with the local land manager along with the Town of Eagle, the Town of Gypsum, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service to be stewards of the trails and plan new development.
Unlike some of the natural avalanche paths we saw cut out of mountainsides this winter in Colorado, multi-use trails don’t just appear overnight.
“Most of the work for new trails happens years in advance,” Turitz explains. “That’s something I never knew until I got more involved — it all happens in the planning phases.” A new addition in progress is the Brush Creek Open Space. Turitz says Hardscrabble Trails Coalition is working with Eagle County and the BLM on getting trails over there.
“And there will be a longer wildlife closure because they have been elk calving over there in recent years, so the trails group and locals are happy to honor that,” says Turitz. “We want to make sure it’s clear from the beginning, well-marked and well known why it’s important. Education is a big part of trail-use standards.” That project, adds Turitz, will be in the planning phase this year with potential construction to begin in 2020.
“There is another trail extension and new trail in the east Eagle area. I can’t talk too specifically about it until we get official approval from BLM,” she says. “Hopefully that will happen and that construction can start happening as soon as it’s dry this spring.” To enjoy some of the trails that are already ready for action, Turitz has a few recommendations for beginner, moderate and advanced riders.
“The best beginner trail in Eagle is definitely Haymaker,” Turitz shares. “Built by Momentum Trail Concepts in the spring of 2013 and host to the Colorado High School Cycling League State Championship race, this trail will give you a true appreciation of what professional trail builders can do.”
Haymaker is three loops that can be linked, lapped and repeated. Turitz says it’s easy to navigate, has less climbing than other Eagle rides and is packed full of fun features to conquer. “When you are ready for a little more challenge, head for Boneyard, an Eagle classic or even better, cruise over to Eagle Ranch and try the new LOV Connection trail,” she says. “LOV Connection connects 3rd and Abrams Gulches with a series of rolling climbs and fun descents.
The views are spectacular and it’s a great introduction to the Hardscrabble Mountain side of Eagle.” For the experts in the area head up Hardscrabble Mountain.
“A favorite route is to climb Abrams Ridge,” says Turitz. “Cruise around Itch, add on Cat Walk as an out-and-back. Head back via Scratch and descend World’s Greatest. As you can tell by the list of trail names, a map, such as Mountain Bike Eagle or route-finding app such as TrailForks is recommended for route finding, as it can be somewhat challenging.”
This loop clocks in at almost 12 miles but there is over 2,000 feet of climbing.
“You’ll see everything from pinion and juniper forest to aspens and wildflowers all from challenging singletrack trails that are sure to keep you coming back for more,” Turitz promises.
Dry Lake Motocross Park is now open for its first full season. The track is located directly north of the Gypsum Interstate 70 interchange, about four-and-a-half miles north, up Trail Gulch Road.
The facility is 160 acres and on a parcel of property owned by the town. It’s the only large, public-use facility of its kind located along the I-70 corridor between Denver and Grand Junction.
The Rocky Mountain Sports Riders (RMSR), known locally as a “family-oriented dirt motorcycle riding club,” operates the park on behalf of the town of Gypsum. This group of dirt bike riders comes together to advocate for the rights of motorized dirt bike riders in and around Eagle County while also providing stewardship and riding opportunities on local trails.
RMSR member Mitch Hayne says this sport can definitely be a family affair, and the Dry Lake Motocross Park can help encourage kids to get involved. Riders of all abilities are welcome on the track, which features assorted experience level tracks including an endurocross track, peewee track, mini track and a singletrack.
The facility also has a turn track that surrounds the property with plenty of turns to keep kids occupied. More adventurous kids can try out the endurocross track where they can cross over logs, rocks and tractor tires. As motocross coach Greg Bailey advises, whether you bike on a track or a trail, it’s important to not just ride, but to practice as well. Both understanding and practicing body position, knowing how to get traction and to control sliding are very important aspects of riding efficiently, in balance and in control.
And deliberate practice is the way to do that! The Dry Lake Motocross Park is open sunrise to sunset, May 1 through September 30, when the property closes to accommodate seasonal wildlife.
The park requires a $20 annual rider registration and costs $20 per day for riders ages 11 and older. Riders under the age of 11 are free. Adult season passes are available for $300 and family season passes are $500.