From Darkness To Light

8 Aug 2012

Review of bike trails up at Purgatory/DMR

Posted by Adam Howell

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Friendly welcoming staff helped me get my ticket and load up my bike on the lift that Saturday morning at Purg. Soon after I would learn that the cross-country mountain biking there was decent, yet the infrastructure overall was not set up for utilizing more than one lift, and that one only went halfway up the mountain.

See any mountain bikers at this line at Lift 4 at Purgatory? Am I in the right place?

The first thing that I noticed when approaching the one and only mountain bike uplift at Purg was that there were no other mountain bikers among the 20 people waiting for the lift that morning. Also, the Village Plaza needs some kind of ramp or route that bikers can take up to the lift from the ticket office so that they don’t have to use an elevator or carry their bike up a flight of 20 stairs.

Where are all the mountain bikers and hikers on this beautiful Saturday morning?

Lucky for us mountain bikers, we’re allowed to use a different line to avoid the hoards of little kids with parents heading up to the top of the Alpine Slide. All of the kids and parents watched as I approached the biker line where I was the only one waiting for the next lift.

About half way up the lift, everybody except me got off at a ramp with a lift operator kindly greeting them and unloading their sleds.

Dropping in to some of this best single track that Durango Mountain Resort has to offer, this is what you see.

At that point I knew I was one of very few people that was riding the lift with my bike that morning. All of the chairs for as far as the eye could see were empty. But why? Who was this lift serving, afterall?

You should know that I didn’t see one downhill mountain bike during my day of riding up at Purg on a Saturday.

More importantly, what were the trails like, you say? Well you see, the 1990 World Mountain Bike Championship Trail was a cross-country loop with big switchbacks on two-track roads and single track. It was fast at times, fun, and sometimes requiring a bit of pedaling uphill.

There were no jumps, obstacles or terrain features on any of this ride that mostly followed cat tracks.

The 1990 World Mountain Bike Championship trail up at Durango Mountain Resort.

I rode a leisurely 15 or 20 minutes to the bottom and got right back on the lift.

The second trail that I rode required a bit more effort to get to after unloading at the top. I rode up the switchbacking road to the top of the mountain to probably a thousand feet higher than chairlift 4 where I got off.

Riding on Paul’s Park trail, the first three miles of the loop was the Forest Service road going through the resort. At the top you get off that road and back on another two track logging road/cat track. The downhill is just beginning here. The views of Engineer are epic from the tops of these slopes.

The lifties hang your bike up on one of these on the back of the chairs, and cinch it down with a strap.

It’s a fast, switchbacking downhill with a few light rocky sections for thrills and skidding fishtails. This could be fun on a downhill mountain bike if you didn’t have to ride a thousand feet of elevation gain to start. If you go with a downhill bike, you should shuttle Paul’s Park with two vehicles.

I skipped Harris Park Loop and got back to Diggler heading clockwise on the World Mountain Bike Loop, which you’re not supposed to do, according to the signage. Since there’s nobody riding up it, however, it didn’t matter. Diggler ended up being a hoot of a switchbacking downhill, as well.

This is the Forest Service road that you ride on for about 3 miles before you get on another road on the back side, where the trail switchbacks downhill.

I even saw other mountain bikers riding down the forbidden, one-way Diggler. It was fine, though, as you could see well down the trail and around the switchbacks if anyone was coming up the hill towards you. No safety concern with that.

At the bottom by Chairlift 1 I checked out the pump track, which is a pitiful 40 foot by 30 foot pile of wrinkled dirt with no chance of allowing any rider the means of pumping themselves to any speed to keep their momentum.

This 40 ft. x 30 ft. pump track up at Durango Mountain Resort is a pathetic puke of an attempt at pump track construction.

Overall, it was a good day of riding cross country trails up at Purg. I was grateful for the bits of great single track on the World Championship Course.

Stay tuned for a story about the ambitions that officials at Durango Mountain Resort have for expanding its mountain bike trails and infrastructure. DMR’s Vice President for Marketing and Sales went on the record following this story about the challenges the resort faces in making these gargantuan changes.

Uplift tickets at Durango Mounain Resort are $25 for the day, or $8 dollars for each lift up.

What Durango Mountain Resort needs in place of one of their flights of stairs is a switchbacking ramp that bikers can ride up to the chairlift.

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