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.
Round Hill Gulch Loop: Think hot springs and lazing about while the sunset shines red on the Sangre de Cristo mountains. This ride fills the need for a quick and easy pedal fix on the way to Joyful Journey Mineral Hot Springs. After you exercise a bit, it’s even easier to talk yourself into soaking in hot mineral springs. The loop begins at Round Hill, just over the top of Poncha Pass. It climbs a short way into the mountains to the west through meadows of sage and pine forest. After just enough climbing, turn back and enjoy a downhill glide to the car. Great views of Mount Ouray (13,971 ft.) and the northern end of the awesome Sangre de Cristo Range.
Trailhead Access: Drive west of Salida on US 50 to Poncha Springs. Turn left (south) on US 285 and drive over the summit of Poncha Pass. Round Hill Gulch Road (RD WW50) turns right (west) 9.9 miles from Poncha Springs. There is no sign to mark the road, other than a small WW50 road sign, so keep your eyes open. You will be very close when you see a round hill on the left side of the highway. Turn right and drive 0.1 mile. Park in the grassy pullout on the right side. Start pedaling.
Location: Top of Poncha Pass
Distance: 8.0 mile – loop
Riding Time: 1 hour
Riding Surface in Miles: Dirt Road 8.0
Aerobic Level: Easy
Technical Difficulty: Novice – one short steep downhill
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 8,750; High Point 9,518; Climbs/Descends 952
Land Status: USFS – Rio Grande National Forest, BLM, Private Land
Maps: Poncha Pass
Options: This area is laced with roads offering dozens of possibilities for longer rides. Because of this, it’s also an easy place to get lost. Plan a longer loop on your topographical map. Clover Creek, just south on US 285 offers many possibilities, especially around Round Mountain (not to be confused with Round Hill). Dorsey Creek, just north on US 285 on the east side of the highway, offers many options as well. You are on your own to explore these different routes.
0.0 Ride uphill (west) on WW50, also known as Round Hill Road 5530.
0.5 Great view to the northwest of Mt. Ouray and the Devil’s Armchair.
0.9 The road splits. Take the right hand road and cross the cattle guard to FSR 5325. Ignore the green road sign on the pole because people twist it to point the wrong direction.
1.0 The road splits immediately after the cattle guard. Take the left hand road and follow the fence. The road splits again 50 yards later. Stay left along the fence.
1.2 Stay along the fence.
1.6 Intersection with a dirt road. Turn left.
1.7 Stay to the left.
2.4 The road splits. Take the right hand road downhill into a steep section.
2.6 The road splits. Take the left road heading slightly uphill.
3.2 The road splits. Take the right hand road downhill. After a short distance, the road T-intersections into a larger sandy road. Turn right.
3.3 The road splits. Take the left road.
3.4 The road splits. Take the left road.
3.6 Intersection with a large tree. A sign points to Silver Creek. You are not going to Silver Creek. Turn right downhill.
3.8 Stay on the main road until it splits. Take the left hand road uphill.
4.1 Intersection with dirt road. Turn right downhill along the fence.
4.5 Intersection with dirt road running north/south. Turn right (south).
4.8 Intersection with a dirt road. Turn left and cross the cattle guard. The road splits again immediately after the cattle guard. Take the right hand road which goes straight.
4.9 The road splits yet again. Take the right hand road.
5.3 Intersection with dirt road. Take the left hand road.
5.4 The road splits. Take the left hand road.
5.8 Stay on the main road beneath the power line.
6.4 Stay on the main road beneath the power line.
6.7 The road splits. Take the left road.
6.8 The road splits. Take the left hand road.
6.9 Intersection with dirt road. Turn left and cross the cattle guard back onto Round Hill Road 5530. Stay left on 5530 after the cattle guard when the road splits two more times.
8.0 Back at the car. Drive south and hit the hot springs. Aaaahhh! Bliss.
We want you to have a safe and enjoyable trip into Colorado’s backcountry. Be prepared it could be a long walk out. Be sure to read this list of equipment you should bring on your ride along with tips to make your biking trip more enjoyable.
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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