Long Canyon, Moab, UT

Long Canyon is a fun way to the Island in the Sky mesa from Moab. A moderate offroad route just by virtue of the very top end, Long Canyon offers brilliant views of the La Sal Mountains framed by a canyon setting found nowhere else in the world than the Utah canyonlands.

Long Canyon is just another example of the gems you can find, simply by looking at a map and taking the road less traveled.

Access to Long Canyon Rd. from Moab is simple; north out of town on the main drag, just turn west (left) on Utah Route 279, signed as Potash. Route 279 follows the north bank of the Colorado River, as it winds through the canyon during the first segment. Long Canyon will be a right turn from UT-279, just after the Jug Handle Arch. There is parking to hike to the arch at the beginning of Long Canyon Rd., signed.

Heading up Long Canyon near the beginning. In late November, the steep canyon walls keep the sun from reaching the canyon floor until the afternoon. Photo above was taken around 11am. As you gain in elevation, as evident in the photo, the canyon opens up and the walls stop blocking the beautiful, warm sun.

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Aspen Ridge

Aspen Ridge features open meadows, dense forests, and wide views of the Collegiate Peaks. An extensive aspen forest gives this area its name, and is a beautiful area in all seasons.

They call it Aspen Ridge because it’s a ridge that’s covered in aspen trees. Who would’ve guessed? Aspen Ridge is traversed by Forest Road 185, which provides a fun little offroad route from the Fourmile Area/U.S. 285/24 to Salida. Aspen Ridge is passable by stock SUVs in dry conditions, and features open meadows, dense forests, old mines, wide views of the Collegiate Peaks and plenty of dispersed campsites.

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Heading up Aspen Ridge, traveling southbound towards Salida

For a several miles you’re pretty much driving through a forest consisting exclusively of aspen trees. Unfortunately, when we did this trail, it was too late in the fall for the leaves to still be the magnificent yellow/orange/red they become. But it was still a fun trail and certainly a place on the bucket list to return to next September during the peak color season for aspens. It’s a great trail to run right after doing Lenhardy Cutoff or Sevenmile Creek Rd., just to the north in the Fourmile Recreation Area.

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Sevenmile Creek Road, Chaffee County, CO

An easy offroad trail that connects Buena Vista to Trout Creek Pass/U.S. 285/24, with abundant recreational opportunities and magnificent views of the Collegiate Peaks.

Sometimes I have the issue of being a “yes man”. I end up driving halfway across the state on a whim just because someone put the bright idea in my head that I ought to spend yet another weekend adventuring random places out in the great outdoors. I guess you could call that a good weekend (but kind of run-of-the-mill for my crew and I). Sure beats sitting on the couch. Also beer, for some odd reason, tastes way better in the great Colorado outdoors than in my house.

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Road 311 eastbound

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Lenhardy Cutoff, Chaffee County, CO

Lenhardy Cutoff is simply another example of a road which exists solely to support the industries of the youthful western state of Colorado, and now offers plentiful recreational opportunities.

Quite the fun offroad route from U.S. 285/24 in South Park to Buena Vista, the Lenhardy Cutoff offers plenty of adventure for all types of activities. Lenhardy Cutoff is simply another example of a road which exists solely to support the industries of the youthful western state of Colorado. Late season adventures brought me here, and we ran the trail from east to west after the nearby Sevenmile Creek Road.
Lenhardy Cutoff is one of two offroad routes from U.S. Highways 24/285 to Buena Vista, and is overall not technical, although a difficult section near the eastern end could prove troublesome for some vehicles.

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A moderately rocky section of the eastern portion of the trail.

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Weston Pass, Colorado, USA

A nice little excursion between Leadville and Fairplay, Weston Pass is much milder than Mosquito Pass and still offers plenty of fun and adventure.

A garden-variety high mountain offroad pass in Colorado, Weston Pass provides a convenient shortcut between Leadville and Fairplay. Weston Pass is just south of the infamous Mosquito Pass, another high mountain offroad pass. Mosquito pass similarly connects Leadville to Fairplay to the north, yet is much steeper and requires a more well-equipped vehicle than Weston Pass.

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The summit marker of Weston Pass, a brisk 11,921ft.

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Salt Cabin Park

Just a lowly forest road, meandering its way through the woods in northern Pingree Park. Good dispersed camping and views of White Pine Mountain.

Salt Cabin Park Rd. is a nice little route through northern Pingree Park just south of the Poudre River. It is a loop which starts and ends along Crown Point Rd. (Forest Road 139). Just a lowly forest road, meandering its way up a hill then back down. There are some nice dispersed campsites, and excellent views of West White Pine Mountain. The Stormy Peaks are visible, as well as Crown Point.

 

Looking southeast down the valley from the top of the ridge.
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Old Flowers

Sometimes you’re on a backcountry road and wonder, “why does this road even exist?” The industries which built the West are often the reason, and Old Flowers Rd. is no exception.

Today, Old Flowers Road is simply another forest access road, and alternate (offroad) route from Stove Prairie & Rist Canyon to Pingree Park. Old Flowers Road actually consists of two parts, East Old Flowers, between Stove Prairie and Pingree Park, and West Old Flowers, from Pingree to the the trailhead for Flowers Trail, a hiking trail.

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171 Network

The Swamp Creek area offers a plethora of choices for offroading, camping, and shooting. Make no mistake, there are often RVs, generators, shooting, and people riding OHVs. For a drunken weekend in the hills the area is perfect.

Forest Road 171 is just south of Red Feather Lakes and offers plenty of recreational opportunities. Geographically, the area in which the 171 network of roads is located is in the Swamp Creek drainage. FR 171 is actually a loop back towards the main road from which it starts, County Road 69/Manhattan Road. 171 also has numerous spurs and branches, indicated by letters and hence the “network” designation. All spurs are accessible by the parent, nonlettered 171 road, but not all spurs provide access to other spurs (though some do).

This whole area offers a plethora of choices for offroading, camping, and shooting. Hiking is comparatively limited but for a drunken weekend in the hills this area is perfect. You are less than 15 minutes from the town of Red Feather Lakes, which has reliable cell service, two general stores, a sporting goods store, restaurants, a coffee shop, and a hardware store.

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Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) of the 171 network

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Sevenmile Road, Larimer County, CO

This offroad trail is a fun way to get into the 171 network and off the main roads sooner. There are creek crossings and challenging rocks. Not for the everyday sedan.

This offroad trail is a fun way to get into the 171 network and off the main roads sooner. It isn’t really that technical, but there are several sections which might prove tricky for lower clearance vehicles and/or require four wheel drive. There are several creek crossings, as well as a portion of the trail which runs through Sevenmile Creek. Note: there is another “Sevenmile Creek Road” in Chaffee County, which is completely different, obviously.

Most of the road is narrow but very passable
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Storm Mountain

At the top of Storm Mountain, you’ve got a panoramic view of all major metropolitan areas of Northern Colorado. And to the west you have a panoramic view of the Front Range mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Amazing views, 30 minutes from town, with a steep and rocky road in between.

At the top of Storm Mountain, you’ve got a panoramic view of the northern Front Range. You can see Loveland, Fort Collins, Wellington, Longmont, and beyond. Storm Mountain is accessible via U.S. 34 and Drake. Storm Mountain Rd. starts as a paved, steep, switchbacked road shortly after the turn towards Glen Haven from Drake. The first few miles are residential and lined by private property. Then you get into national forest land. 

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