Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sphinx Park by way of Foxton Road

Although a bit on the cool side early on, today ended up being a nicely sunny and cool riding day here in Colorado.

It's been a while since I was last at Sphinx Park which is about two miles from the town of Pine on County Rd 126 in Jefferson County. The idea was to get a picture of the huge rock dome located there and sights along the way. Today, there were plenty of sights.....

I took County Line Road across the southern edge of the Denver Metro Area, and after a brief 2 mile sprint from where it ends on US85 to the Wadsworth exit on westbound E-470 slab, I was at Deer Creek Canyon Rd, my gateway into the foothills and mountains as of late.

I took Deer Creek Canyon until I could turn left onto Deer Creek Road. From there it shortly becomes High Grade Road and later on twists its way up into the mountains as Pleasant Park Road.

Pleasant Park Road

Not too many shots of the twisting pavement on Pleasant Park Rd since Natasha has the width of a small car and not able to park safely along most of this road. Here's some from a previous trip when I was on Brigitta and thus able to park in more spots safely. LINK.

Once at Conifer, I tanked up at the gas station there, still getting about 30 MPG! I headed South on US285 to the next exit which is Foxton Road. (Just get on 285 and stay in the right lane). Foxton road, for you twisting roads enthusiasts is a combination of easy curves and technical twisting turns. There's a little something for everyone.

Foxton Road took me down to where it joins up with CR 96 which you can take southwards to the South Platte River road area and Deckers. Today though, I stayed on Foxton road as it becomes a packed dirt road.

I turned Natasha around, to get this curve in the river

You can see where Foxton Rd becomes paved just up ahead in the picture above

Right after the above spot, I saw a sign for Resort Creek Rd heading up into the hills. I went up it and was soon stopped by "private drive" signs. Frustratingly, the road on which I posed Natasha below was marked private and I did not get to ride it. Just a picture:

On Resort Creek Road

I headed back to Foxton Rd, the "private drive" was above me and to the right with the river to my left. It would have been quite nice I think but I respect private property signs. Still, one gets some nice views of the river and its snow-clad rocks and ice covered shallow spots. The main eye-catcher on this stretch of Foxton Rd is the rock formation known as Cathedral Spires:

Cathedral Spires

Soon after Cathedral Spires, you pass the "town" of Foxton which appears to be about 4-5 houses. The road now becomes SW Platte River Rd or Country Rd 96. Here's other rock walls and formations as well that lend themselves nicely as scenic backdrops:

The view on CR96, sometime after passing Foxton

Eventually, you end up at the small "town" of Buffalo Creek where CR96 and CR126 join up. Not much at Buffalo Creek but this building built in 1898 and still functioning as a Mercantile Store. If you want to step back in time into the late 40s, go there and have a look inside.

Buffalo Creek's Mercantile Store

I headed northwards on CR126 to the next town of Pine where I took the road which rapidly became packed dirt to the small "town" of Sphinx Park. It's claim to fame are the huge rock domes in its vicinity and the "Bucksnort Saloon".

Sphinx Park's Rock Dome

The saloon was having a good day. The really small parking lot for it was full and there were more SUVs headed up the road, freshly cut pine trees on their roofs, trying to find a parking spot. Needless to say, I left quickly since there's not much room up there among the rocks!

The view from the shack up on the rocks must be awesome!

Rock walls, probably part of another rock dome

I got back to the town of Pine and retraced my route on CR126 back to CR96. Along the way I stopped for the pictures below and the sumptuous lunch that my loving wife had packed for me. Salami sandwich, chips and hot tea.....mmmmmmmm.

Colorful barns on CR126

The view at my lunch site, not bad eh?

Today must have been "the day" to go and cut down a tree for Christmas. I saw many SUVs and trucks trees strapped onto their roofs or inside them. Kind of a shame really, cutting down healthy trees just to display them for a month or so in one's home. Oh well. No, I'm not a tree hugger, just making an observation.

I was heading back towards Foxton and trying to capture some shots of the river and it's boulders. As a bonus, I got some views of the cathedral spires as well.

Another view of Cathedral Spires

Panoramic shot of Foxton Road
warning: big file

Cathedral Spires again

The snow-clad boulders in the river

I got back onto the paved portion of Foxton Road and after a brief stop to try and capture the twistiness of the road:

This is the first hill on hits when heading up Foxton Road from where it junctions with the dirt portion of Foxton Road and the South Platte River Road.

I headed back the same way I'd come. The combination of Foxton Rd, Pleasant Park Rd and Deer Creek Canyon Rd would have been quite the twist-o-rama had I been on Brigitta but it was still fun on Natasha. I am happy to report that I was able to stay at or just slightly above the posted limits all the way down these mountain roads.

Once back near the Chatfield Reservoir, it was another 2 mile sprint on eastbound E-470 back to the US85 exit and from there to County Line Rd. No incidents to report for the ride home and I was in the garage by 4PM, after racking up about 180 Km or 108 miles and about 6 hours in the saddle.

Natasha, I am continually pleased to report, did outstanding! No mechanical issues and she rode up and down the steep grades with aplomb. Heck, one or two times while accelerating up a slope, I felt her front wheel seemingly pop up an inch or two when I engaged the next higher gear! Weird, like she couldn't wait to attack the hill!


irondad said...

Once again, awesome photography. You leave me in the dust.

I've discovered yet another appeal to the sidecar rig. When I put a thermos of hot coffee in a saddlebag, then ride in the cold for a while, the coffee doesn't stay hot long! Must be the speed and wind chill. :)

So why, in the middle of Colorado, is there a park named "sphinx"?

Charlie6 said...

Dan, I would not say I leave you in the dust photographically, your stuff is pretty good as well. Re the name for Sphinx Park, apparently it was named after a nearby rock formation....