Dry Fork and, in proximity, Hoffheins Connect, provide one of the more fun rides for mountain bikers of all levels in Durango. A great introduction to the local mountain-styled riding for beginner riders, while exciting and fast for the more experienced riders, Dry Fork is a ripping area to ride.
What Makes It Great
Whether you ride it as an out-and-back, sticking to the Dry Fork original trail, or looping in the Colorado Trail from the top and coming back down Hoffheins Connect, you’re in some of the most beautiful and full forest the surrounding land has to offer. The trail is dry and soft, full of that awesome pine smell from all the needles you’ll ride over in the early portions of the trail. It then graduates into a harder dirt and rock combo, with a few roots, as you climb. The climbing isn’t steep and occasionally loose until the end, so it’s a surprisingly fast climb.
You gain about 1,300 feet in vertical as you wind your way up through the woods. The trees are beautifully thick, and the mountain is quiet—you feel as if you have the trail all to yourself. And you very well might! You’re always liable to spot wildlife, whether it’s the abnormally brave deer or a black bear turning around and bumbling away with no interest in meeting up.
Through all the quiet, you ride on: this trail may be fast, but it’s not a “full-throttle screamer” like other descents, so you can enjoy the trail however you wish to. There’s potential to rip it, and there’s potential to saunter down, and everything in between.
Hoffhein’s Connect makes this ride awesome as a loop. Rather than just the out and back, create a longer descent (you’re always looking for an excuse for more downhill) and ride the Colorado Trail down to next intersection (or keep going a few minutes to pop out on top fo Gudy’s rest!). Doing the loop will expose you to a faster, rockier, and more technical descent, but easily rideable for intermediate mountain bikers. The loop turns the entire ride into a 8.6 mile ride, perfect for Saturday morning adventure. This is definitely the fun way down.
Who is Going to Love It
This is a ride for mountain bikers of all levels. You don’t have to ride it at any pace, and while you climb over 1,000 feet, it isn’t punishingly steep. The turns on the Dry Fork trail are often wide and swooping, and the Hoffheins Connect trail is great for an intermediate rider looking to hone their skills and jump to the next level. The trail is mostly hard pack (but not loose) and without roots, meaning a beginning rider is less likely to slip out. The rocks, while occasionally technical, aren’t challenging to the experienced rider (but still fun), and are great for beginners and intermediate to play around on.
Roughly 8.6 miles is a perfect length for intermediate riders - meaning a good challenge for beginners and fun, fast, whipping time for experienced bikers. Those riders who love to get out of the bustle will enjoy the ride - we’re not saying it will be devoid of other cyclists, hikers, and runners, but being up in an area further from town gives you more of the “forested mountain” feel than the other local rides in Horse Gulch and Test Tracks.
Dry Fork, especially including the Hoffheins Connection, is a medium level workout on a medium level technical trail—meaning great for those beginners looking for a challenge, and those experienced riders looking for a thrill.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Heading west on Highway 160, turn right on the Lightner Creek road just out of town. Follow it (route 208) all the way back to the well-established trailhead. You’ll both start and end here.
Take the Dry Fork trail up, and after the first mile, continue left at the only intersection. Keep on climbing up the mellow mountain until it eventually connects with the Colorado Trail after a steep shoot - you’ve gone up to 8,600 feet now after about 4 miles. If you’re in it for the out-and-back, turn around here and have an awesome descent.
If you want the suggested Hoffheins Connect, take a right on the Colorado Trail and climb up shortly before descending down 2.5 miles. It get’s rockier and slightly more technical. Take the right turn at the intersection - or continue a few seconds to Gudy’s rest for a view and a break, then come back and take the turn. Follow Hoffheins down to the intersection you passed back at the very beginning, you’ve just come down that right turn you didn’t take. Return to the trailhead by turning left and continuing down.
You may ride this loop backwards if you like—whatever floats your bike (er, boat). Spice it up a little! Remember, be cautious for hikers and other cyclists, as it is a two-way trail.