After 24 hours of driving with a few hours sleep at a random casino in Black Hawk, the nearly 9000 ft of elevation, and the absolute worst hotel coffee imaginable, the first ride of the trip was more of a warm up than an epic. Clocking just under 12 miles, this was my first foray into the Nederland, CO trails, known as the West Magnolia Trail System. Through the years, I have managed to hit many of the front range riding spots such as Apex, Horsetooth, Betasso, Deer Park, and White Ranch, so the last areas left on my list were Magnolia, Centennial Cone, and Golden Gate.
Reachable directly from downtown Nederland, the Magnolia Trail System is just a short pedal up the Eldora Ski Mountain Access Rd and starts directly before the school. A nice short punchy climb up Clear Cut introduces the system with a rocky start that promises more technical to come, however once up top on the ridge, the trails turn incredibly fast with berms and the logical planning of a mountain bike specific system. Getting lost is nearly impossible as the system is rather small, well mapped on Trailforks, and features relatively clear signs posted at parking areas. My only complaint is the forest service trails are marked with numbers such as 9304 instead of names which correspond to trail names given on Trailforks or MTBProject. More than once, I picked a trail without looking at Trailforks thereby ending up on short grunty climbs with loose gravel. Unfortunately, the most well known trail, School Bus was left unexplored to ensure a timely return back at the truck before the towering thunderclouds let loose their afternoon deluge.
The plan to hit Fruita for an evening ride was also washed away by relentless showers and thunderstorms, but we did manage to check out Powderhorn Ski Area outside of Grand Junction along with the Colorado National Monument. Fortunately, Reno and Lake Tahoe promise perfect weather for the weekend.