~ by Trevor Phipps ~
Due to drastic changes in daily life caused by the coronavirus pandemic, more and more tourists and locals are heading out into the open forested areas of Teller County to recreate.
On a regular basis, many vehicles can be seen heading up to the mountains toting jeeps, ATVs, (All-Terrain Vehicles) side-by-sides and dirt bikes.
During the stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders, more people have chosen to view the wilderness on a motorized vehicle. There is a plethora of trails in the county and surrounding counties that take adventurers on treks through the mountains that cannot be accessed by driving in a regular car or truck. These trails offer routes for riders of all skill levels and they can experience one-of-a-kind views while out in the wilderness.
According to Jarrod Rucker a local dirt bike rider and mechanic, there are several areas in the Teller County region that are popular for riders. The most popular part of the county to try out that new toy are the trails 717 and 357, located north of Divide. The Rainbow Falls area that sits north of Woodland Park off of Highway 67 is also a hot spot for dirt bikers and ATV buffs.
Popular ATV Gems
According to Rucker, Rainbow Falls is a popular spot for the more novice riders. He said that the ease of access is the number one aspect that draws people to the area with their off-road vehicles. “It’s simple to get there,” Rucker said. “It’s just off the highway on your right-hand side and it has a rocky terrain that is not too intense and it is a novice-friendly place.”
However, Rucker said that the trails to the north of Divide are probably the most popular off-roading areas due to the large variety of terrains in the region. “The real big ones are 717 and 357 which are north of Divide,” Rucker said. “That area has five or six hundred miles of usable trails and you can reach the South Platte River. It is a very wide-open area.”
These trails are accessed by turning north at the signal light in Divide and then turning right at the first “y” and heading down to Rule Ridge Road. The road then turns into Road 357 which is the start to the hundreds of miles of off-road trails.
“There is just so much area out there,” Rucker said. “There is some technical and some not so technical sections. You can do camping, four-wheeling, or shooting if you so choose.”
Another popular region for motorsport activities is Rampart Range. The Rampart Range area is one of the largest national forest chunks in the region and it is the home to hundreds of trails that traverse the forested mountains of the range.
However, according to Rucker one big drawback to riding the trails on Rampart deals with the regulations. According to current rules, everyone must be driving a licensed vehicle on Rampart Range Road or Forest Service Road 300. This means that riders must pack up their vehicles on a trailer to travel on the main road, and then find a trail that does not require license plates.
Rucker said that Rampart is not as convenient as the other two areas because if riders want to switch trails, they have to load their vehicles back up on their trailers, and then take them off at the next trail. Whereas the trails on Rainbow Falls and in Divide can be accessed by non-licensed vehicles from their entrances.
Nevertheless, the setbacks of trekking in Rampart do not stop several riders from exploring the region including Jeep and off-road clubs. The cluster of trails can take riders near Rampart Reservoir, Palmer Reservoir, up towards Devil’s Head and around Mt. Herman. There are even trails that cut west from Rampart Range to the Manitou Experimental Forest and Rainbow Falls.
One popular trail in the Rampart Range area to ride is Forest Road 323 or Winding Stairs Trail. 323 is located off of FR300 north of Mount Herman Road.
Riders can take the entire trail that winds through the mountains and connects to Forest Road 324 or Ice Cave Creek Road back to 300. Or, adventurers can take FR 323B off of 323 that will lead them to a beautiful valley of giant rock formations.