By Patt Drawe 

Last fall, Jefferson County Open Space started construction on a new, 2.5 mile section of “Bike Optimized, Directional Recommended” trail.  The new South Dakota Ridge trail starts on top of the ridge after you descend the North Ridge and ride across the road cut.  Head south up the single track that takes you up and over the ridge and returns you to Red Rocks Lot #2.  Once up top, you’ll see the new trail heads directly south straight down the ridge.  The recommended direction is south down the ridge and clockwise as the loop hooks back up with the current descent trail that parallels HWY 93.

"The best part about this trail is it’s built unlike anything else on the Front Range."

This trail is a big step forward for JeffCo as the trail is designed with mountain bikers in mind.  It’s official difficulty rating is as an Expert Level, Black Diamond trail.  While In reality, the trail is a strong Dark Blue or Light Black for most of the ride, with some cool Black level features and maneuvers built in.  The best part about this trail is it’s built unlike anything else on the Front Range.  I’d classify the trail type as mostly Tech Flow.  Tech flow is rocky and chunky, but fast and flowy, with drops, jumps, and alternate lines designed into the flow of the trail all to be taken at speed.  There aren’t many slow speed maneuvers to this gem!

This cool project has 2 phases to it.  Currently, Phase 1 is in full swing with a goal in mind to finish an initial loop that will allow riders to session the trail without being an out and back.  Planned completion for the initial loop is the 2nd week of June.  There will be an additional small loop finished on top of the ridge by the end of June, but due to some complex, technical rock work on the descent, JeffCo decided to complete the lower part of the loop first so that it was ready to ride sooner!

Phase 1 has some cool features like The Giddyup Log Jump, Pete’s Plunge, and Smiley’s Drop.  This entire trail is a hand built, rock armored spectacle of blood, sweat, and tears!

"Volunteer efforts are ongoing every Wednesday from 9am to 3pm."

Phase 2, which is about as rugged of a trail building project as one could hope for so close to a major metro area, will start immediately following the completion of Phase 1 in June.  This short loop is slated to be kept primitive and rugged!  Very narrow trail with large rocks, slow speed, technical maneuvers are on the docket for this one so it’ll be a lot of fun to see this section unfold as the year wears on.

Overall, once fully completed, the ride will essentially be 2 lollipops stacked on top of each other, with an opportunity to return and descend back to Hwy 93 at the end of the first lollipop or continue complete the Phase 2 loop. 

This entire project is a collaboration between JeffCo Open Space, COMBA, and countless other groups and individual volunteers.  Volunteer efforts are ongoing every Wednesday from 9am to 3pm.  For more information please download the Yazda App and join the COMBA and Golden Giddyup groups.

The Trail Crew testing their work. 

The Trail Crew testing their work. 

Matthew GeorgeComment