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Durango's Dry Fork Loop

By David Nelson - March 15th, 2004

Durango is renowned worldwide for its mountain biking because of the number and variety of great rides in the area, and the easy access to the trails in the backcountry. Only a short distance from town, the pavement changes to gravel road, then to single-track trail and enters the beautiful San Juan National Forest.

The Dry Fork Loop begins in town on U.S. 550, then turns onto Junction Creek Road to the western-most trailhead of the 480-mile Colorado Trail. The trail follows the creek for several miles, climbing gradually to a steep one-mile section that switches back numerous times before leveling out again at the intersection of Hoffhein's Connection.

The rest of the ride is a meandering descent to Dry Fork Road followed by a brief section on the pavement of U.S. 160 for the final miles back to town. Take Highway 160 west from Durango 3.5 miles from Durango to Lightner Creek Road. Turn right and follow this paved road for about 1 mile. On your right, County Road 208 enters the Perins Peak Wildlife Area. Park or follow the dirt road two miles to a fork, stay right and travel another mile to the Dry Fork trailhead on the left.

Ride the singletrack up about a mile to the intersection of Dry Fork and Hoffheins Connection trails. Follow the Dry Fork trail to the left, making a clockwise loop with a gentle to moderate ascent. Watch out for free range cows on the trail. Continue up the trail for about 3 miles, through pine and aspen groves, until you meet the Colorado Trail. Turn right and climb a short section before going downhill for 3 miles, look for a sign for Hoffheins Connection on the right. (For a great view, continue on the Colorado Trail for a few hundred yards to Gudy's Rest.) Descend down the Hoffheins Connection for a 1 1/2 miles until you meet the Dry Fork Trail and angle left downhill to the trailhead. This is a nine mile loop that takes 1 to 2 hours and is rated intermediate.

Trip Planner

Route location: In La Plata County northwest of Durango near Junction Creek.

Surface: Paved U.S. highways, gravel county and forest roads and smooth single-track trails.

Distance: 18.0 miles.

Ride time: Allow 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours for the loop.

Difficulty: Moderate. There is a steep section on the Colorado Trail; the route gains about 1,500 feet in elevation.

Maps/Info: U.S. Forest Service: Bicycle Routes on the San Jaun National Forest; U.S.G.S. 7.5 minute quadrangle: Durango West. Additional information about this ride or others in the area can be obtained from the Outdoorsman, 949 Main Avenue, Durango.

From Denver: Travel southwest on U.S. 285, west on Colorado 112, then west again on U.S. 160 to Durango. Driving time around 6 1/2 hours.


Comments

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Posted on June 13, 2009 - 7:20am
by mike

Thanks for the ride info

Sounds like fun, now I just need to get back on the bike some and find time to drive.

Posted on February 27, 2008 - 10:56pm
by geow

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