Trail Rides

 Ralston Creek Trail

Ralston Creek Trail runs from the Fairmont Trail along Virgil Way, due east along Ralston Creek. The trail is concrete, with horse singletrack on either side of the path. The creek is pretty and the trail is shaded for a majority of the ride. It runs through a golf course, with holes on either side of the path. There are good spots for cantering, and in some places the horse trail moves through pasture like footing. 

Obstacles include walkers, dogs, bikes, golf carts, bridges, underpasses and several street crossings. Two of the underpasses are too short for horses, requiring a street crossing. 

Total length of horse safe trail is 8 miles one way. The trail goes on, but requires riding the sidewalk along 64th avenue (not horse friendly). The elevation gain and loss is minimal.

Flatiron Vista

Flatirons Vista has a parking lot on the west side of highway 93 with dedicated horse trailer parking on the left side of the parking lot. That doesn't mean that the parking is always available, since sometimes hikers park over there too. The trail runs west from the parking lot across the top of a mesa. At the west end of mesa, the trail runs west (Dowdy Draw) or splits to the left and makes a loop back to the parking lot. The trail is packed dirt with a plethora of rocks, becoming rockier as it loops to the south and heads back east. There is plenty of space to ride the loop off trail, meandering through the trees.

Obstacles on trail include hikers, bikers, dogs, gates and on occasion, cattle. 

Total length of the loop is about 4 miles.

I have ridden this trail at least four times and the length is closer to 4 miles.

Bear Creek Lake Park

Bear Creek Lake Park is off of C-470 on Morrison road. The entrance fee is $7 a day, or a year long pass could be purchased. The creek that runs through the park to the lake is fordable in at least three places, although there is a lot of damage from the floods of September 2013 that has not been cleaned up. The trails are packed dirt with some rocks, winding along the edge of the creek, through the trees. There are spots where it is possible to canter. The area is hilly, with lots of moderate elevation rises. 

Obstacles include hikers, bikers, runners (there is an exercise trail that is closed to horses), horseback riders, swimmers, boats, and dogs. There is a golf course east and south of the park.

This loop could probably be stretched to 10 miles by utilizing all of the trails.

Waterton Canyon

Waterton Canyon is incredible, with absolutely stunning views (which would be even more gorgeous in the spring). Waterton Canyon is home to a herd of Big Horn Sheep, Osprey, numerous water fowl and other birds. The trail is wide and dirt packed, following the South Platte as it winds into the mountains. It serves as the trail head to the 473 mile Colorado Trail. 

 We park at the South Platte parking lot at Chatfield Reservoir (we have a state parks pass) which allows us to ford the river at the bridge near the parking lot and ride down the west side of the South Platte to Waterton Canyon. There is a road crossing at Waterton Canyon and then the trail is wide, dirt-packed road leading back to the dam. There are numerous pull-out spots with picnic tables for eating lunch. There are also places to get down to the water for the horses to drink. The trail back can be variable, but we love riding the audoban trail that winds down by the river in dirt packed singletrack form. This is the trail that winds through the trees where we cantered on our last ride. 

Obstacles include hikers, baby strollers, bikes, burleys, dogs (in Chatfield - they are banned from Waterton Canyon), cars, street crossing, river crossing, tight turns and curves on trail, Big Horn Sheep, and other riders. Waterton Canyon also seems to attract a group of people who have never seen a horse before, so be prepared for squeeling children and adults. 

Our longest ride so far was 14 miles, but this could be stretched to as long as we wanted. I really want to make it onto the Colorado Trail, just for grins.

Fairmont Trail

As far as I know, there is no trailer parking for this particular trail. There are several places where a ride could be launched from, including TMR (which is where we rode out from) but no formal trailhead. From TMR, you ride north through the subdivision to the trail about three blocks north. The trail is sidewalk, almost exclusively, with some very narrow singletrack for the horses to ride on. Some of the horse trail has been damaged or closed due to the flooding in 2013. There are rocks on trail, but also some areas where a canter can be maintained. The trail has some significant elevation gain and loss, with a two mile uphill climb from Tucker Lake to the mainland above the Arvada Reservoir. 

Obstacles include bikers, walkers, runners, burleys, strollers, rollerbladers and horse back riders. The trail runs next to several roads and the walk through the subdivision includes all of the obstacles one would expect in that environment. Water can be obtained at Tucker Lake. Swimming the horses is possible, but be warned that Ashke had a reaction (hives) to the mosquito spray Arvada applied in late July.

The trail is an eight mile loop, or pretty close to eight miles. This is also the starting place (mile marker 1 in the pic below) for the Ralston Creek Trail.

North Table Mountain (Golden)

 North Table Mountain has a parking lot on the East side of Hwy 93 as you are entering Golden. There is trailer parking for horse trailers, but as with all parking lots in Colorado that we have tried, it is a crap shoot as to whether or not you can really get your trailer into the spaces due to overparked cars. (Do not be afraid to tell people to move their cars, since the designated trailer parking is for trailers.) From the parking lot, I would recommend heading northeast along the edge of the mesa. There is a straight road up to the top, but it is brutal. Two of the three times I've gone up it, I have hand walked Ashke. The one time I rode up it, he was exhausted and spent by the time we hit the top of the mesa. The footing on that road is poor, consisting of loose, large gravel over asphalt near the top at it's most steep. If you go north east first, there is a much nicer fire road with packed dirt and some rock that is a more gradual climb. You still must go the 1000 feet straight up, but on the fire road it is possible to ride the entire distance (and some of the crazies from TMR on their OTTB's actually gallop the entire way). Once on top of the mesa, head south and west, then follow the bike path down and around the outside edge of the plateau. On the east side of the Mesa, I always get down onto the canal, rather than riding the edge of the Mesa all the way around. The canal offers opportunities to canter and is wider than single track. I take the canal to the Fairmont Trail, turn west at the soccer fields and ride back to the Mesa through the subdivision, which is quieter than riding along 58th.

This is the first trail ride Ashke and I did solo from TMR. It is a solid 10 miles, and a four mph pace is reasonable for the terrain. There is a lot of rock near the Mesa and on top, plus the single track is very rocky in places. The single track that snakes (pun intended) around the edge of the Mesa is narrow with a steep drop on the downhill side for most of the ride. Snakes are common in the spring, summer and fall. Mountain lions live in the towering cliffs on the South side of the Mesa and we have seen deer, coyote and moose on the Mesa top and sides.

Obstacles: bikes, hikers, dogs, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, coyotes, deer, elk, moose, steep drop off, single track, elevation gain and loss. The canal passes by houses with dogs, earth moving machines and horse corrals. On the canal you risk strollers, bikers, hikers, dogs, children playing, gardeners, and vehicles.

This is a great ride, despite the obstacles.

North Teller Trail

Teller trail is located on Valmont road in North Boulder. There is a trail head on the south side of Valmont and a loop in the trail goes south. We parked at a local boarding stable to meet friends, right across the road from the trail head. We took the trail North. The footing was excellent with mostly sandy footbeds. The trail moves north from Valmont, crosses a couple of creeks, and includes several decent climbs. We topped out at the top of a plateau, which would have offered the perfect opportunity to canter, if one was so inclined. The trail turned west at that point and headed downhill toward suburbia. There are parts of this trail that are open to horses but closed to bikes, so we avoided them, but it would certainly add additional miles to the ride, if one was sans the bike and so inclined.

Obstacles: bikes, hikers, horses and dogs. There are two water crossings, going the way we went, but only one if the trailer was parked in the trailhead parking lot. The trail follows the defunct trail line toward the East and looked like a fun trail to explore. Perhaps in the spring.

We did 9.3 miles that day. Could expand that ride by crossing the street and doing the south Teller loop or riding down the rail track east.

East West Regional Trail

This trail rides out of Spring Gulch Equestrian Center, which is a 105 acre cross country course on South Sante Fe at Highlands Ranch Parkway. We park at Spring Gulch ($5 parking fee), ride out of the entrance and turn south to cross HRP at Sante Fe. Once across that road, the trail heads East and a bit south for 20+ miles one direction. They have plans to eventually link it to the trail in Parker, which would be long enough to run a 50 mile endurance race on without doubling back on itself.
The trail starts as crusher fine, becomes concrete for about a mile, then back to single track dirt packed trail into the heart of backcountry plains. There is scrub oak and a roller coaster type trail, but no water. The nearest water is at least ten miles out (which makes a 20 mile out and back ride) at Red Tail Park. The park should have water during the spring, summer and fall or you can borrow a hose from one of the houses there to water your horse. It's beautiful country and more than worth the ride.

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