MTB Antero via Little Browns Creek

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Posts: 5
Joined: 8/7/2017
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MTB Antero via Little Browns Creek

Post by sctbke »

Just thought I'd share as this ended up being one of my favorite rides of the season! The route is unique and combines the easiest climbing (still hard though :) and a wonderful descent. Rode this on a 2017 Stumpjumper comp carbon 29er on September 16th 2021. This is NOT an easy ride, up or down, I would consider myself to be an expert level rider and this trail certainly threw me some challenges! There is very little cell service. I saw 3 groups on the way up and only one on the entire way down. Take everything you need to get you and your bike out safely, even in unexpected circumstances, and be prepared for a massive day. That said, this ride is AWESOME!

I stated my journey at 5:30am just above Princeton Hot Springs, where county road 290 crosses the Colorado Trail (Coordinates 38.712851, -106.196906) I pedaled up the old narrow gauge railroad route as the sun rose, a beautiful and easy ride, meeting up with the pavement just above the steep section of the paved road. From here it's an easy spin along the paved then dirt road to the Antero 4wd road.

The Antero 4WD road is steep, but I found it to be surprisingly ridable in the first miles. This section of the road is generally 15-20% grade, which was manageable with the 30t oval front and 52t rear on my bike. I walked maybe 5% of the road up to the creek crossing. I was certainly expecting much worse. The valley the road follows was turning colors and rather chilly in the early morning hours. I stopped and ate second breakfast at the creek crossing, around 730 AM, and continued up the road.

The road above the creek crossing is brutal! It caught me off guard. It's 20% grade and nothing but large loose rocks from the creek crossing at 10,800 all the way up to the start of the switchbacks near 12,000. I hike-a-biked 90% of this section, and it was certainly a type 2 fun experience. Still beautiful along the way, with lots of breaks.

Once you get above treeline, there's a short section of steep and loose, but the start of the switchbacks signify much easier climbing ahead. The switchbacks were a consistent 7-10% grade, plus surprisingly smooth and tacky. I cruised along in the granny gear for this whole section, enjoying the beautiful views and the easy climbing. This is the case all the way past the turn at the saddle, and to within about half a mile of the gate and highest parking area. The last half mile is another very loose hike-a-bike, I put on my trail runners and pushed up the road to the gate.

Leaving my bike at the gate, I hiked to the summit, enjoyed the lack of wind and conversation with some folks at the top. The climbing took me 5.5 hours, summiting shortly after 11, with approximately 6000 vertical feet over 12 miles to get there.

I got back down to the gate, put on my riding gear, and started down the mountain. It's crazy loose at this upper section, and controlling your speed is vital, but it was ridable for me. I took a left at the first road immediately after this steep section, and headed down into the saddle between Antero and Mt. White. There's an obvious road going east though this alpine valley with a gate across it, I bypassed the gate and continued down.

Here things got a bit confusing, as I must have missed the direct access from the road to the trail. About 1/4mi down from the gate I could see the trail 100yd to my left in the valley center, with nothing to access it. I wandered around for a bit, but found nothing, and ended up cutting across the meadow to get there, feeling bad for the plants along way. If you ride this, keep your eyes to the left immediately after the gate to see if there's access to the trail. I can't see anything on satellite, the trail looks like it vanishes in the meadow, but I'm assuming there's some access there somewhere.

This is the start of the little browns creek trail, and talk about a wild ride. You'll pick your way over, around, and though an endless field of small boulders on the steep trail. It was a technical challenge for sure, but for me it did end up being fully ridable with a bit of terror along the way! After one notably steep and loose section, the trail hops a stream and the grade lessens to a fast sandy meadow on tight single track. From here, the trees start to come up and get taller as you descend, and the sand turns to true dirt as the trees grow. This section was a perpetual slalom between trees, with rocks and roots to keep you on your toes. The trail is easy to follow, and seems to go on forever. I had to take a few breaks because the technical riding wore me out - totally worth it. I walked only one 10 foot section that looked prime for an endo. Beyond that, an excellent technical rider will be able to ride most info not all of the descent

The trail carries on as a technical slalom all the way down 5000 vertical feet to about mile before the Colorado Trail, with occasional big smooth rocks to launch over, or tight off camber sections. There's two random steep climbs, less that 100 vertical feet each, and after the second the trail opens up to a fast and fun ride down through some long and smooth switchbacks to the CO trail. Taking a left (downhill) on the Colorado Trail, the fast, smooth, water bar riddled descent continues all the way into the valley, where the trail flattens and turns directly north. This section of the valley was flat or slightly downhill all the way until the last big climb right before meeting up with Country Road 290. The last hill climbs about 500 vertical, and while all ridable, its a slog after such a day. I made it to the top, turned down the extremely steep, loose, and tight switchback of the final section of the trail, and came down right back to where I had parked 8 hours earlier. Honestly, I would've kept going. Too fun!

In total the loop was:
26 miles
6,300 vertical feet of climbing (and descending)
8hrs, 6 min, with 5.5 hours up, an hour at the top, and only and 1hr 45mins to get back to the car.

Would I do it again? YES!! It was well worth the effort. Much more technically challenging than Elbert. Start with that one, if you ride all of it, come try Antero via Little Browns Creek. It was an awesome day. If anyone wants more info or the GPS file feel free to reach out! @Sctbke on Strava and IG

I tried to add photos but it says they're too large despite being below the 2mb limit
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Re: MTB Antero via Little Browns Creek

Post by blazintoes »

To add pics, screenshot the pics you want to add and then add the screenshots from your phone photo reel. New phone cameras are amazing and the detail we get! But the files are too large to add here.

Anyway I'm no expert MTBer either but I've gone up LBC via the CT all the way to the top of Baldwin Gulch and blasted down and back to Princeton Hot Springs for a loop ride. Everybody loves loops! I've also fat biked up Baldwin Gulch twice in winter and once in summer. Any time I can bike to get a peak I will because duathlons are better. Recently I biked up to Mt. Princeton on my hard tail carbon 29er a Specialized Fate. My 26er is my favorite MTB. It's a full suspension Trek Fuel 8.0 and I refuse to upgrade because, why?

Anyway nice job on this outing and I think it's the best way to see all the peaks up there!!! Now send your pics.
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