Matthews Winters

By Chris
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Matthews/Winters is a favorite Front Range trail for just about everyone. Hikers, trail runners, XC and downhill bikers, they are all there. This means it is a crowded trail. Keep your head, bikers yield to EVERYONE (uphill bikers have right of way versus bikers travelling downhill).

I’ve got a special place in my heart for this trail. It’s like an old friend. Visits are short, yet meaningful. Be forewarned, for some people, this trail is like a pyschotic ex rather than an old friend. Everytime I’m out there, I see someone bite it in an impressive fashion. Ride under control and know your limits. The climb is short, but it can be brutal. Technical switchbacks abound for such a short trail.

From the parking lot, ride down past the bathrooms and across the little stream. Stay right and go up the hill. If you think this hill burns your legs, just wait.

Once you top the first little climb, there will be some whoop-to-doo cross country riding for a little bit. You’ll pass a trail on your left, but stay right, you’ll take that one as you head back to the parking lot. If you are having any difficulty here, turn around or you are in for a rubber hose type beating.

The little whoops are behind you and you will drop down through two switchbacks into a creek (it’s dry most of the time). You ascend a short steep section to another switchback. Watch this section if it’s wet or icy, slidebacks are common in those conditions.

A short distance ahead, the trail forks. Take the right fork and begin the real climb. The first switchback, as of this writing, has been sanitized a bit and should be do-able. The second and third switchbacks, well… I can do them, but I’m kind off sick that way. Don’t feel bad if you have to walk, you will have plenty of company. A hint for getting through them, gear up (middle ring it) and lower your cadence. You’ll have more control over crank angle (for clearance) and rear wheel torque to the ground (so you aren’t spinning out).

Continue the climb up to the top, take a break and enjoy the view from the rock garden up there. Then head off across the little plateau. It’s a broken XC run, and it’s a hoot. Watch out for rattlesnakes here in the cooler evening hours.

Once you cross the level top section, you will begin a descent that is pretty hairy. Take heart, it’s not very long, if you are in doubt, step off the bike and walk. There are consequences to losing it in the switchbacks and approaches to the switchbacks. Once you are near the end of the descent, watch for an ascent with waterbars and some slickrock. Get a run at it and keep cranking and you will clean it. If you don’t clean it, pull your bike out of the way and don’t Bogart someone else’s good run.

Now it’s time to start the homeward loop. The trail around the side of the plateau is a bit deceiving. Don’t fall asleep here, there are some moves that need to be made. If you are going at speed, stay just off the saddle and be ready.

Once back around, you will descend to the little creek again and climb out through the two switchbacks. Continue on around to the eastward bound trails you skipped on the way up. This trail leads around a little knoll and has some wicked little humps in it. They are perfect for catching a little air (or sending in-attentive riders skyward) and can be taken at speed. You will loop back around to the bridge, then up and out to the parking lot. Since the ride is so short, give it another go if you have any leg left.

Get the Google Earth .kml file here.

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