Daily Archives: November 1, 2011

Longmont Area Trails: Heil Ranch and Walker Ranch

Heil Ranch

Heil Ranch

Heil Ranch

This area consists of an out and back and a couple loops as well as a connector trail to Hall Ranch.  The Wapiti trail is the out and back.  It’s very fast and flowing with rock gardens that can, and there for should be ridden at very high speed.  Some of the turns are banked and have huge rock walls that build them up, giving a nice gentle turn radius.  This trail has been built for heavy use with a lot of rock armoring and other machine built stuff.  This thing reminds of an even more buffed out Rocky Ridge trail in Flagstaff, AZ.

trail at Heil Ranch

photo by Kiki Holl that shows some of the rock work on the trail

After reading some silly reviews of this trail I feel like I have to clarify further. There are no big ledges, slabs or narrow choke points or slow going sections. For those who are accustom to rocks it’s not even moderately rocky.  What this trail is, is crazy big ring spinning out in the downhill direction kind of fast.  I occasionally down shifted and used my brakes to check speed since it’s multi-use and a popular trail.  Meeting other trail users head on at 25-30 mph is far from ideal.

It’s also a good climb since you can just stay in the middle chain ring and crank up it surprisingly fast.  There is a great overlook at the top facing out towards Hall Ranch. Hall Ranch sounds like a lot of fun.  I am thinking it would be great to start at the bottom of Wipiti and ride out to Hall Ranch and back for a big mileage day.

overlook at Heil Ranch

photo by Kiki Holl of overlook

I also rode the Wild Turkey Trail to add a little more mileage since the miles just fly by out there.  I would not hit this trail system right after a big rain or snow melt, but it’s all well armored and should dry out fast.  On the whole Heil Ranch its a good place for a 1-3 hour ride and after that you can head to Hall Ranch. I missed Hall Ranch so we still need to go ride that one at some point.

Walker Ranch

Walker Ranch Loop

Sharon here, I’m going to step in and add my perspective on Walker Ranch, which I rode with Jay a few days before he rode Heil Ranch.  When I say that I rode the entire 7 mile loop, I really mean that my bike and I traversed the entire loop.  Sometimes I was on my bike pedaling, sometimes I was next to my bike pushing it, and for one very challenging section I was actually carrying my bike (as was Jay).  Walker Ranch has a good variety of terrain with tight switchbacks down and up the mountain, a smooth sandy portion along the river, and open mountain meadows that afford incredible views.

View of river from Walker Ranch loop

View of river from Walker Ranch loop

This video below from a local rider named Lindsay does a great job of showing what the trail is like:

Overall this ride really challenged both my technical riding skills and my fitness.  Like most rides in Colorado you are pedaling at a high elevation, taking in less of the oxygen you desperately need to propel you and your bike up these pitches.  As a beginner rider I focused on small goals and celebrating each accomplishment along the way.  I was particularly proud that at the end of the ride I just kept pushing a small gear and made it up the last long (but not steep) uphill stretch to the parking lot.  The views were awesome and we had beautiful weather, but I would prefer to do this loop again as a hike and take my bike to Heil Ranch or Hall Ranch instead.

Sharon carrying bike on Walker Ranch Loop

Some trail is just not safe for anyone to ride, such as these rock steps along a cliff at Walker Ranch

 

Note: Two of the pictures from Heil Ranch were taken by Kiki Holl a few days after Jay rode the trail.  Kiki is a friend of ours from Virginia that just moved to Colorado and is a great rider and photographer.