‘Tis the Season - Mountain biking around Laramie and Cheyenne shines in the fall

“The mountain biking at Curt Gowdy is so beyond. It is amazing,” says Dewey Gallegos, the owner, with wife Jessica, of Laramie’s The Pedal House. “In mid-season—July and August—I try to stay away because it can be hot, but in spring and fall, it is the place to ride. It’s just phenomenal.”Courtesy of the Overland Mountain Bike ClubWhat makes Curt Gowdy State Park, at the foot of the Laramie Mountains 24 miles from both Laramie and Cheyenne, phenomenal?

“If you’re into technical riding, there’s that,” Gallegos says. “But there are also trails that are no-brainers—swoopy and pure fun. It’s got something for everyone.”Add to the diversity of trails 1) the fact that about 90-percent of them are set aside purely for the use of mountain bikers and 2) a general lack of crowds and you have one of the state’s best mountain biking destinations.“Gowdy’s so awesome that on a busy Saturday there's tons of cars with Colorado plates who drive up there, because it's a lot less crowded than the trails near Ft. Collins,” says local rider Michael Pearlman. “But ‘busy’ is all relative,” Gallegos says. “I’ve ridden for a couple of hours out there and only seen a couple of other people.”Courtesy of Dewey Gallegos, The Pedal HouseGowdy’s 2.6-mile Shoreline Trail is great for riders looking for a chill ride. The 3.75-mile Stone Temple Loop Trail is more technical but Gallegos says even beginner riders should try it for the scenery and, this time of year, colors. “You might have to hike your bike a bit, but it’ll be worth it,” he says. Also, there are connector trails that easily allow for 20-mile rides where you don’t repeat anything. Check out the full trail map.In total, Curt Gowdy has 35.36 miles of trails (yes, they are that specific about mileage) rated similarly to ski trails—beginner, intermediate and advanced. The majority of them were built in 2006 when Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails initiated an International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) trail project. IMBA Trail Solutions, with several partners and many, many volunteers (over 4,500 volunteer hours) constructed a stacked loop trail system that bisects three distinct ecosystems. Gowdy’s trails range in elevation from 6,700 to 8,000 feet above sea level and cut through high plains, upland montane, and riparian ecosystems. Not that you really care about any of that as you’re speeding along them. You’re just smiling.Courtesy of IMBA.The Denver Post’s outdoor blog called Gowdy’s trails, “far better than anything I have encountered along the Front Range.”And Curt Gowdy State Park isn’t the only mountain biking in the area. There’s also Happy Jack. Although, “If I was a person coming through town and only had one ride to do, I’d go to Gowdy. Especially during the fall.  I just don’t think enough people are talking and riding Gowdy for how good it is. Also, people spend a lot of time maintaining the trails there.”Directions: From Laramie take Interstate 80 east to Exit 323 and travel east 14 miles on Highway 210, Happy Jack Road. Turn right n Granite Reservoir Road. In about 1 mile you’ll come to the entrance booth for Curt Gowdy State Park. Daily use of the park for Wyoming residents is $4 and $6 for non-residents. Annual passes are $33 and $53. Call The Pedal House at 307-742-5533

By Dina Mishev