Thursday, August 8, 2013

Colorado Backroads & 4WD Trails: Fort Collins

I've been spending much of my summer free time trying to digitize a new offroad book (well at least new to me) which I've just gotten access to: Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, Vol. 2by Charles A. Wells.

You remember the guy. He wrote his "Volume 1" several years ago and, in frustration, I digitized it - much to the chagrin of my poor 'ol balding head. After the excruciatingly difficult experience I swore I'd not do another book with so little coordinate information to go on – well… here we are.

That's the issue after all isn't it? To supply better geo-coordinates for those who don't have it.

Wells seems to feel the fact that he refuses to come into even the 20th century and use GPS is a badge of honor of some kind. I certainly don't see it that way because none of the trails he lists in his book even have coordinates to the trailhead, let alone waypoints or tracks for the trails.

Additionally, and unfortunately, the trail descriptions that he DOES choose to use, are woefully inadequate for most offroaders as well. The names he uses for some roads don't appear on any of the maps that I've been using (or on Google Earth) making it difficult to even get to the trailheads, let alone navigate the trails.

Adding Coordinates to The Trails

In fairness to him, perhaps someone actually on the ground might fare better looking at landmarks and whatever signage has been erected; but, digitizing these has sure been a chore. Fortunately, I have digitized other Colorado trail books by other authors, some using the same trail names, which can serve better to navigate around the back roads of Colorado.

And, his books do provide a whole lot of "color" about the area including riding instructions too numerous and specific to include in these maps. Wells has divided his book in to five riding areas, each with at least one "base camp" where you can find lodging, gasoline and some services.

This is the first post of five which will describe the trails given in his "volume 2." I was able to digitize the map to all the trailheads and base camps and they are shown in the map with "metadata" such as description of the area, trail difficulty ratings, distance, time and some short ride descriptions.

Additionally, I have some small amount of personal experience with trails in Area 2 - so I was able to hand-draw all the trails in that area, so they are included. Of course, all of them need to be verified so please help if you ride any of them.

The first area is the description of the trails around Fort Collins.

Area One: Fort Collins

Area One has three basecamps and nine trails, all of which are listed below. The difficulty designation of each trail is also given: E = Easy; M = Moderate; and, D = Difficult. Although, there is no objective description of what those designations actually mean.

Basecamp Towns: Fort Collins, Loveland and Walden.

Location: Adjacent to the northern border of Colorado, around Fort Collins on the east and Walden on the west. From the Wyoming border on the north to state road 34 on the south.

Description: Riding in this area usually requires a visit through the Cache La Poudre River Valley on SR-14 which also supports hiking, biking, fishing, rafting and kayaking. Hard to believe but this unimposing little valley holds some world class rapids: The Narrows, as well as the toughest 4WD obstacle in the state: "The Chutes". There are desert sand dunes, mountain ledges and panoramic views. And, the Sierra Club lobby has been handed at least three wilderness areas largely for their exclusive use.

Trails: North Sand Hills (E), Sevenmile Rd. 225 (M), Kelly Flats (D), Green Ridge Road (D), Old Flowers Road (E), Ballard Road (M), Moody Hill (M), Crystal Mountain (D) and Storm Mountain (D).

Free Google Earth File

The free Google Earth file for the Guide to Colorado Backroads and 4WD Trails - Volume 2 is available at: Google Earth Trail FileOffroading Home on the specialty map resource page. Click to arrive at the page and select the "Wells Colorado, V-2" map. It is a .kml file which is utilized by Google Earth. You can either save the map on your computer or click "open" to have it open directly inside Google Earth.

Are You Going To Get The Book?

If you are planning on purchasing this book, I'd like to entreat you to do it via this link to Amazon: Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, Vol. 2. That way you'll still pay the same price but a portion of it will go toward keeping Offroading Home "on the air." Thanks!

The combination of these FREE Google Earth maps along with the original descriptions from the book is the best of both worlds.

Learn A Little More

One of the first "big boy or girl" things you learned in life was to tie your shoes. In this three minute TED talk by Terry Moore you may just find that you have been DOING IT WRONG ALL YOUR LIFE!

How To Tie Your Shoes


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