Moderate to Strenuous
75.1 miles/6294ft elevation
This ride takes in some of the favorite Durango gravel features out there including Horse Gulch Rd both directions, the Glockenspiel both directions, up Texas Creek and around Vallecito Reservoir. It is 60% gravel and 40% pavement.
This ride was borne out of the Durango Fall Blaze Bicycle Tour, traditionally a road tour, creating some gravel rides to help raise funds for the Fort Lewis College Cycling Team. Starting up Horse Gulch Rd. at 3rd St/9th Ave in Durango the ride climbs the unmaintained County Road (CR) 237 to the top, so expect some of the most technical aspects of the ride, before dropping down the maintained road to CR 234 and the Florida River Valley. After a mile or so keep right on CR 225 for some fast and twisty gravel, this road can be quite busy with vehicles so be aware. When the pavement starts again keep right on CR 228 do some “Belgian” hills on CR 228, 229 and 230 before heading back north on CR 225. At the top, keeping right onto CR 228 going north and left on CR 502 constitutes what the locals call the Glockenspeil – a series of ramps that get steeper and longer until the precipice about 20 miles into the ride. A rapid three-mile descent comes next before turning left on CR 245 (Texas Creek) and climbing three more miles before plummeting down to Sweetwater Springs and CR 240 (Florida Rd.) (please use extra caution as the descent is very steep and twisty, keep as far right as possible). Turning right on CR 240 and keeping right at Helen’s Store this pavement portion climbs a bit then drops down into the Pine River valley and CR 501. At the stop sign turn left and follow the valley north to right on CR 603 at the bottom of Vallecito which turns to gravel traversing the south and east sides of the reservoir past the gate at the Croll Cabins and the 5 Branches RV park and back onto CR 501 to complete the circumnavigation. Following CR 501 about ½ mile south of CR 240 is a right turn onto CR 245, left on CR 502 and back over the Glockenspiel to CR 228. After keeping right on CR 225, CR 228 and CR 234 is the final left turn onto CR 237 (Horse Gulch Rd) for the return back to Durango.