By Suzanne Webel
Here’s another “diamond in the rough” – a series of elegant stacked-loop trails in Roosevelt National Forest just north of Nederland. The reason I say it’s “rough” is that a bulldozer had coincidentally just preceded us, grading the old roads and clearing trees, to make this trail system work. When the dust settles it will be a spectacular place to ride! Even now, the trails and roads can be combined to make several loops, and they connect all the way up to the Switzerland Trail system. Some day, we might even be able to get from Gordon Gulch across the Peak-to-Peak Highway and onto the northern portion of Caribou Ranch….
Park at the newly-renovated Gordon Gulch Trailhead (P-1), about 4.7 miles north of Nederland. There is room for several trailers here, with a kiosk that has a map showing designated campsites. There are more campsites than I can show on the trail log map, and some of them could be fine equestrian camping opportunities, but there is no water or other amenities so plan on bringing in everything you might need. Do not try to park at other access points to this trail system such as at Sugarloaf Rd or at Sunset – there just isn’t room, and please respect private property.
From P-1, proceed along FS 226 for a short distance, then take the first right – on 314E. This old road makes a long descent through the piney woods. A short distance after the road enters a meadow, look left for a singletrack trail to your left and take it (going straight takes you out through some private inholdings to Sugarloaf Rd.). The trail offers several nice lunch areas, or you can continue onwards through some mixed forest until you intersect FS 228. We took this old road where it branched to the left, then meandered left again onto FS 233 and returned to the trailers because a big thunderstorm threatened. However, if we had continued to bear right, we would have passed a large mine, a nice meadow, and several more forks in the road until we met up with the Switzerland Trail, an old railroad grade that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The ST makes a 10-mile loop around Bald Mountain at this location (!) and offers a variety of options including the Pennsylvania Gulch Loop, Bear Gulch cutoff, an excursion up to Gold Hill, and the Sugarloaf Mountain Lookout. The Gordon Gulch Trail (FS 233) exits the system at Sugarloaf Rd. See other BCHA trail logs for descriptions of some of those experiences. Return to P-1 via FS 226.
Total Distance: Main Gordon Gulch loops approx. 5 miles round trip; Gordon Gulch Trail from
the meadow approx. 2 miles one way; Pennsylvania Gulch loop approx.
5 miles round trip.
Total Time: Approx. 2 hours each, depending on route
Jurisdiction: Roosevelt National Forest
Maps: USGS topos Gold Hill, Ward, Tungsten