The early morning sun peers through the aspens as I dance my way up the Lupine Trail. Still tacky from last night's thunderstorm, this pure singletrack winds from the base of historic Howelsen Hill and climbs its way up to the beautiful vantage point known as “the Quarry.” The views of Steamboat Ski Resort and the quaint mountain town below are breathtaking and the ride is worth every pedal stroke.
Emerald Mountain is truly a gem. With more than 25 miles of classic singletrack, I can always find myself a new route to ride. This morning, I decide to get a few hours of climbing under my belt before descending to the base. This network of trails has something for everyone, from novice terrain like Emerald Meadows to more advanced trails like Stairway to Heaven and Little Moab.
The sun is strong as I take a quick break and soak in the views. I can see the Yampa River far below me and the tiny slivers of a few kayakers already venturing down the river. Lupine joins the Quarry Mountain Trail and I continue to climb to the top. This trail tightens and winds through dark groves of pine trees before breaking out into an even more impressive view of the Sleeping Giant off to the west.
This newly-created trail offers the rider a great challenge to make it to the summit. I often encounter deer and elk feeding along the trail's edge and this morning was no exception. I spook a cow elk and its yearling feeding on aspen leaves. They quietly scamper down the hill and disappear in the blink of an eye. I'm always amazed at how quiet this network of trails is at any time of the day. With so many miles of single track it's easy to spread out and find your own ride in peace. This is my number one attraction to this beautiful place.
I make it to the top only to finally run into my first set of riders. They are heading out into the vast backside trail system on Emerald Mountain. But my time is limited and breakfast is calling. With the uphill portion over, let the fun begin. I drop down Abby's and let my gravity take over. Downhill riding is not my specialty, but the rhythm and flow of these trails always gives me confidence and I end up pushing myself to my limits on every ride.
Winding down the final section of the MGM trail, I break right and hit my favorite trail known as Eye to Eye. The tight turns and tricky terrain are my favorite part of this quick but challenging trail. It's a little over a half a mile long, but it's packed full of fun at every turn. Blazing down Mile Run, I finally make my way to the base. I pass a few riders on their way up and they can tell by the smile on my face that the riding was great. After all, it is Emerald Mountain.