3 Bears and Five Mile Gulch Lollipop

Yesterday I set out with the goal of seeing how dry Five Mile Gulch was, and was pleasantly surprised. The loop was 19.21 miles and went like this:

Military Reserve to Buck Tail
Up Three Bears
Take Three Bears to Rocky Canyon Rd
Up Five Mile Gulch
Turn left onto the Ridge Rd
Turn Left onto Trail 4
Stay Straight on Trail 6
Follow Trail 6 back to Three Bears and reverse course

Here’s the map:

This is a tough ride. I have never found climbing up Five Mile Gulch to be terribly enjoyable…more so a feeling of work. This is simply because of my level of fitness. It’s a hard climb. I think what makes it such a hard climb is that you have to climb to get to it. If you don’t drive up Rocky Canyon Rd, then you’re left with biking to the start of the trail, and no matter how you figure that, you’ll have some significant elevation to gain. On this ride, I went up Three Bears, which is not an insignificant bit of climbing by itself. So, by the time I get to the start of Five Mile, I’m already tired. The other piece to the puzzle is that Five Mile is a pretty unrelenting climb. Compare it to Hard Guy, for example, and you will see that Hard Guy has more level spots or downhills mixed in, while Five Mile is a steady ascent with only a couple spots where it relaxes the grade a little. This is definitely a ride for those who have good hill endurance.

That being said, Five Mile is still a good way to access the Ridge Road if you’re looking for a longer day. Once you’re up on the Ridge Road you can dive into Trail 4 which will let you go back to the Watchmen, Three Bears, Camel’s Back, or 8th St (which gives you access to Corrals and Scott’s).

For this ride, I went down Trail 4 and stayed straight onto Trail 6 to ride Three Bears back down.

For more information on the route to get up Three Bears, read this post. The only difference is that I cut off to the right to head down to Rocky Canyon Rd. You can ride down Watchmen to Five Mile Gulch and still have a great ride, in fact, that would be my preference (rather than going the way I did).

Trail Conditions (5/7/11): There’s still a little bit of snow at the top of Five Mile. I walked a couple sections, but they were very short and not detracting to the ride really. Here’s a picture of the worst spot on Five Mile Gulch:

Once you get past this bit of snow, there is a little more snow at the very top where the trail meets the Ridge Road. You’ll walk through about 100 feet of that stuff, then you’ll be in the clear.

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~ by cardwelc on May 8, 2011.

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