Perhaps the rapture did happen, because one evening this week my wife and I were falling into a state of bliss and shredding up the new Benjamin Loop Trail as if, in fact, there was no tomorrow.
On the same theme, many fat-tire devotees thought hell would ice over before another foot of singletrack was ever built in Boulder County, especially given the recent chilly weather and the rein statement of mountain bike apartheid in the West TSA. But in a small victory for those who know the nursery school concept of sharing — behold the bitchin’ Benjamin Trail.
No 3.12 miles of lovingly carved trail ever seemed so heavenly. The trail is located on very steep terrain and is less than three feet wide. As a result, county officials urge both cyclists and equestrians to walk the trail before riding it. (OK, so we didn’t do that.)
The trail leaves from the north end of the standard Canyon Loop (just beyond the bench), weaving in and out of the shapely contours of the newly acquired open space to dovetail perfectly with Betasso, fittingly the first open space acquisition. The views are airy and, yes, divine, with superb vistas directly over Fourmile Canyon, Poorman’s Canyon, Sunshine Canyon and beyond. The official ribbon-cutting was May 17, but the surface is already a honed, buttery ribbon scooting through the woods. Boulder County Youth Corps was active in the construction, and, of course, the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance was instrumental as well in all phases dirt-to-development.
Additionally there is a “huzzah!” moment on the horizon, as the Benjamin Loop will be connected to Fourmile Canyon in the next year with a bonus 0.85 mile of trail. That will allow many variations of rides, with a total of 8.5 miles of glorious terra firma when you factor in the 1.3-mile Canyon Link. Should the city make good on instructions from City Council to connect to Betasso via Settler’s Park, you start to have trail you can ride from town — something to make the zerocarbon people proud. Perhaps the fabled connection to Walker Ranch through Eldo Canyon will materialize one day, as well — hopefully long before Armageddon.
Always keep in mind that Betasso and Benjamin are closed to bikes Wednesday and Saturdays, when equestrians are urged to use the trail.
Also, the mandated directional signs change monthly on the Benjamin Loop, just as they do for Canyon Trail. The Benjamin Loop rides a shade easier, with gentle pitches and a very, very buff trail surface finish.
If the current Betasso/Canyon Trail is too rocky for beginners, keep in mind that once the Fourmile connection is built, there will be a bunny slope perfect for newbies.
Elements of the trail, particularly at the lovely early bridge crossing, feel positively northwestern, with towering trees and mossy, dark-hued rocks. The wildflowers are soon to be off the hook, and our visit offered communion with a variety of wildlife, from multiple herds of mule deer to enormous wild turkeys. Bonus!
This trail system is soon to be woven into Boulder outdoor lore. Time to get out and sample it for yourself.
Go to www.bouldercounty.org/play for maps, info and details.