Oaxaca attracts hordes of winter visitors from Canada and the U.S. each year, many of whom enjoy hiking in the Valles Centrales and the mountains nearby. Now the director of the “Hoofing It In Oaxaca” hiking program is an avid mountain biker, who also happens to be an administrator of this web site. And so it is no surprise that many of the trails used by gringo hikers November thru March are the same trails enjoyed by local mountain bikers year ’round. The hike coordinators are always looking for new trails to add to the dozens of venues presently in use. And so it was that Albi and Larry went scouting on their mountain bikes in the Etla Valley recently, hoping to find a route that would work equally well for a group of hikers. And they succeeded!
The rolling hill country on the west side of the Etla Valley is very scenic and a delight to both hikers and mountain bikers. It is a beautiful area at any time of the year. Larry and Albi pedaled a loop linking San Andrés Ixtlahuaca and San Felipe Tejalápam. The map below shows the route they followed. The trail on the left runs 5.3 miles (8.5 kms) from San Andrés (at the bottom of the loop) to San Felipe (at the top) and offers some great views of the surrounding countryside. The trail on the right is an alternate route which is somewhat shorter (4.2 miles / 6.7 kms) and with a little less elevation gain and loss (a bit over 400 feet / 122 meters). After riding and mapping the route, a group of hikers was mustered to try it out. All agreed it was a great hike.
One of the most popular hikes in the Etla valley to the north of Oaxaca city is the trail that runs along the aqueduct which brings fresh water from a mountain stream into the town of San Agustin Etla. Water from this same stream was once used to generate electric power at a hydroelectric station in the nearby mountains, the ruins of which are now a frequent destination and picnic spot. This loop ride offers access to the old power plant and allows cyclists to ride along the aqueduct for a short distance before returning to San Agustin along a dirt access road. Be forewarned that there is some serious climbing to be done on this route, both on city streets, dirt roads and single track trails. This ride basically follows the first part of the 26 mile (42 km) course used for the famed “La Carroñera” bike race held at San Agustin from time to time.
The route shown on the map below covers 8.9 miles (14.3 km). The ride starts from the parking lot at the municipal building in San Agustin, which sits at an elevation of 5757 feet (1755 meters). The high point on the trail reaches an altitude of 7097 feet (2163 meters). The elevation gain and loss riding the trail amounts to 2034 feet (620 meters).
The crew that manages the ecotourism camp at La Cumbre, in the mountains just off Hwy 175 a few miles north of Oaxaca city, have been busy making improvements this summer of 2015. They did some serious trail work to grade and widen the single track portion of the route used for annual mountain bike races there. And there is a new observation tower atop the Mirador that offers a stunning view of the surrounding countryside. These improvements follow the construction of a new kitchen and dining room two years ago. Kudos to those responsible for this work!
Mountain bikers who live in Colorado are a lucky lot. As is the case in many of the western States in the U.S., a large part of Colorado’s territory — 35%, or over 23 million acres — is public land. These public lands include national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, monuments, wilderness areas and lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Most of these lands are owned and overseen by the federal government. But whether under the umbrella of federal, state or more local authority, these lands may be used by the public for recreation. Residents of Colorado spend millions of dollars of tax revenue every year to preserve, protect and improve their public land. In the mountains near Denver there are dozens of city, county and state parks where people may hike or ride mountain bikes. In most places, trails are well mapped and equipped with signs. Most trails are well maintained, either by governmental agencies or local volunteer groups. New trails are always being proposed and are generally built in a collaborative manner by local interest groups (i.e. mountain bike clubs) working in cooperation with government agencies. The result is a terrific network of trails which mountain bikers and all outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy.
Today’s outing was a ride in Golden Gate Canyon State Park in the mountains not far from Golden, Colorado, the western-most suburb of the Denver metro area. The loop ride on the Blue Grouse and Mule Deer trails covered 11.2 miles (18.0 kms), with an elevation gain and loss of 1500 feet (457 meters). The trailhead sits at an altitude of 8400 feet (2560 meters) and the highest point of the trail crossed the 9400 feet (2865 meter) mark. Nine members of the Rocky Mountain Bicycle Boys bike club took part. After completing the ride, the group stopped for lunch and liquid refreshments at a local brewery in Golden.
To view a map of the trail network at Golden Gate State Park, click here.
Eric Ramirez is an enthusiastic young man with a passion for exploring the natural wonders of Oaxaca. He offers hiking excursions, bicycling tours, cultural tours, mezcal tours, eco-archeological tours and rock climbing. He speaks excellent English. Visit Eric’s web site at Zapotrek.com or contact him personally at firstname.lastname@example.org or 951-257-7712