Fall River Ride

John Davenport

Over 90% of the trails in Pueblo are hard surface, allowing for most kinds of bikes to participate. However, goat heads, glass, and other tire dangers populated the pathway. BUT- only one flat tire was witnessed by me on this ride! Participants consisted of the members from three clubs: CSCC, PPOTHG (Pikes Peak Over The Hill Gang), and the Southern Colorado Trail Builders.

The ride started at the Colorado State University campus in the northeast corner of Pueblo. (Parking is ample on campus but availability near the trailhead off the southwestern-most parking lot depends on class schedules.) The trail proceeds west downhill to University Avenue. After passing under University Avenue, the path follows Fountain Creek gradually downhill to the Arkansas River. The scenery for this section includes railway bridges, picnic areas, swamps, forest, residential, and a sort of rough-looking neighborhood near an ice cream shop. We found ourselves pedaling a little faster here…

After passing over Fountain Creek, the path passes under a low train bridge which encouraged some of us to duck. After this train bridge, the path leads between the Arkansas River and the south side of Runyon Lake where fishing is a common activity. The path around the north side of the lake has a 6 mile round trip spur to the River Walk in downtown Pueblo. The north side path also joins with the south side path in time for the trip across the Arkansas River. Our planned route took us along the south side.

Below the bridge crossing the Arkansas River is a dam which is another popular fishing spot. Once on the south side of the Arkansas River, we passed through a canyon of sloped cement walls for several miles. The sloped cement walls have been painted with significant numbers of murals and graffiti. The latest mural was painted in 2010 and consists of 5 naked female Angels on the left and 4 male Devils on the right. After the canyon, the path leads through a forested river bank. The first bridge over the Arkansas River may be taken into a small park and to another pathway along the north side of the river. The south side pathway to the second bridge is newer and preferred. At the second bridge, a pathway going straight leads to the City Park, Pueblo ZOO and miles of other trails. However, we proceeded right over this second bridge and followed the pathway to the left along the north side of Arkansas River, past another river dam, and to the Nature Center. The scenery as you approach the Nature Center changes to semi-desert on the right with mesa, cactus, and many small lizards, and river-bottom vegetation (cottonwoods, willows, lush undergrowth) to the right. The highlight at the Nature Center is the Coyote's Coffee Den with a patio facing south and under the Cottonwood trees. They have a wide variety of food including alcoholic beverages. There is also a large deck to enjoy a picnic and watch the river go by.

Riders on our adventure stopped and gathered at the Nature Center. We had several choices: have lunch, or take one of two lead trips to the Pueblo Reservoir and have lunch later, or to visit the Raptor center. I chose to have lunch (delicious!) and then lead a ride to the reservoir. The ride to the reservoir is about 6 miles round trip. Of course, there are significant trails beyond the reservoir dam on either side of the dam. We rode up the right side of the dam and onto a small beach. Only a few went to the beach from the path and only I went in the water. On the return trip, the sun had warmed up the pathway sufficiently to attract rattlesnakes to sunning on the pathway. SNAKE!! Some in the group managed to scare it off the path. Others reported seeing a tarantula, and several took a ride over some of the mountain bike trails.

Our group arrived back at the Nature Center at 2:30 pm for the return trip. One group went directly back to the start…I heard they may have experienced unintended trails…and the other group left a little later and took the detour to the River Walk. The River Walk is surrounded by various eating places & shops and would make a great alternate to the Nature Center on future trips to Pueblo. Also on the return trip, some of us bravely visited the ice cream shop by the path and enjoyed an ice cream picnic. We got back to the Springs by 5 p.m. and we all agreed it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip.

The Pueblo trail system is one of the best in country. No need to go on roads, it’s got varied and interesting scenery, 90%+ hard surface, and has a very detailed map. The City of Pueblo Parks and Trails Map is one of the best trail maps available and can be viewed and downloaded free from the following web site:

http://www.pueblo.us/documents/Parks_Recreation/ParksAndTrailsMap.pdf

We rode anywhere from 34-40 miles, on mostly flat surfaces. Pueblo is a great place to ride. Stay tuned, CSCC may just make this an annual event!

Bent Fork Chronicles - Vol 3 Issue 6 December 2010

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