Published with permission from the guide book: The Local’s Adventure Guide to Singletrack & Tarmac – Mountain Bike Trails and Road Rides in the Upper Arkansas River Valley by Nathan Ward.
O’Haver Lake Overlook is a shorter easier version of the Marshall Pass Loop and still serves up fine views of Mt. Ouray and the Sangre de Cristo range. After a gradual five mile climb, an easy singletrack leads back and skirts O’Haver Lake, a popular spot for camping, fishing and picnicking. This ride is a low-key and fun introduction into mountain biking.
Trailhead Access: Drive west on US 50 to Poncha Springs. Turn left (south) on US 285 and drive 5.1 miles up Poncha Pass. Look for a sign pointing to Marshall Pass and O’Haver Lake. Turn right on CR 200 and drive past the first sign pointing to Marshall Pass (2.2 miles from US 285). Park at the Shirley Site Angling Parking lot, another 0.2 mile down the road. There are pit toilets here.
Location: Marshall Pass, South of Salida
Distance: 9.7 mile – loop
Riding Time: 1.5 hours
Riding Surface in Miles: Dirt Road 8.3, Singletrack 1.4
Aerobic Level: Moderate – five mile uphill
Technical Difficulty: Novice
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 8,705; High Point 9,659; Climbs/Descends 978
Land Status: USFS
Maps: Mount Ouray
0.0 Ride from the lot across the road to CR 200, following the sign to Marshall Pass.
0.6 Cross Poncha Creek on a one-lane bridge. Continue to the right on CR 200 following the sign pointing to Marshall Pass via the railroad grade.
1.0 Pass the road to Beaver Creek and check out the interesting stonework on the left.
1.8 Stop at the intersection and look for cars. Continue straight on CR 200.
3.3 Look west for an amazing view of the Sangre de Cristo range.
3.6 Ride straight on CR 200, following the signs to Marshall Pass.
4.1 Great overlook of O’Haver Lake downhill to the left.
5.9 Turn left on the unmarked but obvious singletrack leading downhill. Marshall Pass Road continues to the left, and you’ll see an unofficial camping spot on the right side of the road. If you pass the sign for Grays Creek you’ve gone just a bit too far. The wide and smooth singletrack presents no technical challenges and follows a nice route through aspen and pine forest.
7.3 The singletrack ends at a gate. Go around the gate and ride to the right on the dirt road through the O’Haver Lake Campground. There are pit toilets here.
7.5 Pedal out of the campground and down some switchbacks.
7.9 Intersection with another dirt road. Turn right on CR 200. This is the same road you pedaled on the first part of the loop. Follow the sign to Poncha Creek.
9.0 Stay on CR 200 as it turns left and crosses the one-lane bridge over Poncha Creek.
9.7 Finish the ride at the Shirley Site Angling Parking. You are ready for the big time!
The Colorado backcountry is popular – bikers, hikers, motorcycle riders, hunters and equestrians use the trail system in the Arkansas Valley, and everyone wants a private piece of heaven. Even if you don’t agree with everyone’s motives or methods of travel, please treat them in a courteous manner.
If you require search and rescue services, it can be costly. Buy a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card to protect yourself. Funds from the CORSAR program go into the Colorado Search and Rescue (SAR) Fund. If a CORSAR card holder becomes lost or injured in the backcountry, the Colorado SAR Fund pays eligible search and rescue expenses.
Bicycle riding is a physically strenuous activity with many risks and dangers. Hazards, natural or man made, whether noted in this book or not, can be encountered at any time under any situation. As a cyclist, we assume you know your personal abilities and limitations. This book represents nothing more than a guide to the trails and roads and is not meant to replace your common sense, your ability to navigate in the wilderness or in traffic, or your ability to ride a bicycle safely.
In addition, the mileages and routes listed in this text are only suggestions. There may be variances and you may get lost. We recommend everyone uses a GPS and topographical map to navigate. Most routes in this text are located on public land, but some trails pass through or adjacent to private land. Respect the land owner’s rights and obey all signs regarding trail use. The same goes for wilderness areas which prohibit mountain bike riding. Neither the author, nor the publisher, nor anyone else mentioned in this book are responsible or liable in any way for any accident, injury or any action brought against anyone traveling any route listed in this book. All cyclists and their companions assume responsibility for themselves. Ride at your own risk.
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