Thursday, June 14, 2007

Trail Review:

Grazing Elk Trail - Jefferson County, CO
Location: Dear Creek Canyon near Jeffco's South Valley Trail Complex.
Distance: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy - Intermediate
Elevation gain and loss: +278/-187

This trail review is a complete mistake. I never even knew the trail existed until we stumbled upon the trailhead by accident while on a neighboring trail (Coyote Song and the South Valley).

The Grazing Elk loops its way around a the top of a tableland found along the shoulder of Plymouth Peak in JeffCo's incredible Deer Creek and South Valley trail complex. With this geography, its poised to catch all the eroding sediment from its parent peak and this has made for a great rolling singletrack of loosely packed dirt. Its sits at enough of an overall angle to keep the rider rolling with only the rarely applied pedal stroke. All this combined with the unseasonably high grassy vegetation, and this trail makes for a fantastic roller coaster ride.

Its recommended to take the loop counter-clockwise, but with its low usage there is no penalty for going either direction. There are few rocky outcrops to give the trail any technical difficulty, but Grazing Elk trades you these thrills for sheer beauty. It's a very rare experience to glide along a mountain trail knee deep in grasses while lavender and yucca blooms color the fields around you. If you go this season, bring your sense of smell and keep your eyes up because riding the Grazing Elk trail this season is a bit like bush whacking the Serengeti at speed. Overall, it's a great ride for when you aren't in the mood for a typical Colorado Front Range grinder but still want to get out and turn the cranks in a unbelievably beautiful setting.

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