Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Exploring county roads near Squaw Pass Road

A beautifully sunny but cool Sunday for motorcyclists here in Colorado.  I think I saw the most motorcycles today than I have since the start of Spring.  The weather was truly nice and warm in the front range and cool but not cold up in the mountains.  In other words, perfect for motorcycle riding.  It was a bit sad to see the large numbers of riders out without helmets on though, oh well.

Today the objective was to check out County Road 475 off of Upper Bear Creek Rd to the west of the small mountain town of Evergreen.  I was expecting dirt and mud what with the melting snows and all so I rode Natasha up into the foothills.

I spied this set of rock formations just north of The Fort Restaurant, located near the junction of CO8 and US285.  Though I've never eaten there, its where folks usually take visitors for some western fare and I hear some unusual dishes such as Elk, Buffalo, Bison's Tongue, Rocky Mountain Oysters and Rattlesnake Cake....yum?

On CO8 just north of "The Fort"

By 10:00 AM I was past the gateway town of Morrison and making my way through the curves of Bear Creek Canyon Road.  Traffic was light and the roads were nice and clean.  There remains some sandy gravel on the pavement so it will behoove all two wheeled riders to be careful for the next month or so.  For those folks fortunate enough to be on Urals, no worries of course.  : )

My favorite stopping point on Bear Creek Canyon Rd

I continued on past the small settlements of Idledale and Kittredge where folks seemed to be just relaxing or making their way to and from church.  I was in church, the church of the curvy road and mountain scenery.

Soon I was crossing through Evergreen and going past the lake there.  I turned off onto Upper Bear Creek rd where most everyone else turned right to continue on CO74 towards Bergen Park and points north.  Upper Bear Creek road is, I believe, where the rich people who live near Evergreen, have their mansions.  Lots of fancy gated entrances block the small bridges built over Bear Creek and one can see large and magnificent houses nestled along the rocky canyon walls.

I went past the the turn for County Rd 475, today's objective, to pose Natasha at another favorite spot along Upper Bear Creek Rd.  I was UDF'ed for about five minutes by a bicyclist who said he had a black and smoke colored R90S back at the house.  I asked him why he was on a bicycle instead of riding the Beemer and he said he was trying to keep in shape.  He also mentioned he'd been T-boned twice while riding motorcycles, hard core guy, to be still riding with a fused ankle joint!

On Upper Bear Creek Rd, near the junction of it and CR 475

The bicyclist and his friend said that CR475 was mostly a dirt road, with some pretty tight switchbacks along the way to the top where it junctions with Squaw Pass Rd, aka CO103.  I left them to their riding and I turned back less than a mile to take CR475 upwards.

The road soon turned to dirt, heavily washboarded in some areas but overall not too bad.  It was also mostly dry and gravelly so mud was not an issue.  I made my way past the eight hairpin turns or so and encountered a herd of small deer just munching away at one of the hairpin turns.  The folks around there must feed the darn things because they really showed no real fear of me.  

Making my way slowly past the herd of 8 or so deer, I continued on until finally making it to CO103.  CR475 is also known as Witter Gulch Road by the way.  It comes out on Squaw Pass Rd at the trailhead parking lot where I recently lent a tow cable to a couple of cars to get one of the unstuck.

I turned east on CO103, looking for what I thought would be a return path on CR470 back to Evergreen.  It turned out to be just a muddy and winding dirt road leading past many small mountain homes.  

The snow covered entrance to Bergen Peak Wilderness Area, a promising spot to bring the rest of the DAU

I reached a point where snow remained on the ground and here I stopped for pictures and to talk to a passerby walking his dog:

I was told the road ended just a few more feet past the curve, dead ending at a couple of houses.
So I turned Natasha around, waved goodbye to the man and his dog and made my way back to CO103.  I figured since I was within ten miles of Echo Lake, I might as well ride over there to see how road conditions were.

I saw many motorcycles of different marques going to and from Echo Lake, so you can safely surmise the road conditions are pretty good.  Still a few small patches of ice in the shady areas so keep a good eye on the road.

The nearby snow-covered mountain ranges were quite beautiful today, it looks cold but I was quite comfortable riding with just a wind shirt on top of a t-shirt, with just jeans under my riding gear.  I soon came to Echo Lake, which remains snow-covered and quite the sight with Mount Evans in the background:

 I turned back towards the Echo Lake Lodge and saw, while riding by, that there remains about a foot of snow or so leading past the barriers to CO5 or Mount Evans Road.  Hopefully conditions will be warm enough for the road to be opened all the way to the top.

I retraced my path on CO103 back to its junction with Witter Gulch Rd or CR 475.  I twisted my down down the hairpin turns and damned if I didn't come upon that same herd of deer near some houses about two thirds of the way down.  

Nonchalantly crossing the road, never minding the big black motorcycle coming at it!

This cheeky bastard was less than ten feet away from me when I stopped.  Just looked at me for a while as if expecting me to give him a food handout or something. 

As I did not offer food, they moved away to go crop some guys front lawn.  I continued on, making sure I'd cleared the rest of the herd before I picked up some more speed.  Soon enough I was back on Upper Bear Creek Rd and making way way back through Evergreen, Kittredge and Idledale.  My knees were beginning to feel quite sore with all the "hanging off" I was doing on the curves.  

Once I was past Morrison, it was boring city street driving back towards the home neighborhoods.  I covered about 215 Km today, roughly 129 miles in about six hours in the saddle.  That can be a long day when on a Ural!

Natasha did great, didn't give me a lick of trouble.  Hope you got a ride in today, there really was no excuse if you were in Colorado!


Oz said...

You find some really great places to ride. I may have to break down and get a sidecar or a dual sport and start riding on some dirt roads.

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures!

Anonymous said...

Love the picture :)