Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, Colorado
THE PITCH You'll find plenty of choice campsites along the Continental Divide, but none quite as spectacular as those dotting the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, especially the section between Silverthorne and Platoro, Colorado—a network of Forest Service roads more prosaically known as Section 4. (The entire six-section GDMBR runs all the way from Montana through New Mexico.) For a weekend taste of high-altitude touring, try the 97-mile, overnight leg from Breckenridge to Salida. Highlights include a surprisingly forgiving spin over 11,482-foot Boreas Pass, an exhilarating descent through quaking aspens, and one of the sweetest stopovers of Section 4's entire 318 miles: a lofty emerald meadow just off a dirt lane (County Road 175), past a cluster of shacks called Everett Cow Camp. Unload your panniers, make yourself at home, then aim your point-and-shoot at the Imax panorama of the 14,000-foot Collegiate Peaks, soaring out of the Arkansas River Valley.
BETA For the Breckenridge-to-Salida overnighter, take I-70 west from Denver to Frisco, then drive south to Breckenridge for the start of the ride. Follow Adventure Cycling's fine (and really only) comprehensive map of the bike route south toward Salida. For the entire Section 4 trip, continue on AC's mapped route to Platoro.
PRIME TIME July-September
RESOURCES For info: Adventure Cycling, in Missoula, Montana, 800-721-8719, www.adventurecycling.org.
Methow Valley, Washington
THE PITCH On this, the dry side of Washington's Cascade Range, mountain-bike on jeep roads 28 miles northeast from Winthrop to the Tiffany Springs campground, just below timberline on the grassy flanks of 8,242-foot Tiffany Mountain. The next day, when you're through gawking at the craggy Cascades and their marbled snowfields across the valley, press on for the 108-mile tour up through the bald eagle country of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area to Loomis, and then back through the pines along trout-choked Salmon Creek.
RESOURCES For info: Methow Valley Ranger District, 509-996-2266, www.fs.fed.us/r6/oka; Winthrop Mountain Sports, 800-719-3826, www.winthropmountainsports.com.
Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia
THE PITCH This three-day outing in the 909,000-acre Monongahela launches in the mountain environs outside Davis, West Virginia, spins above Blackwater Canyon, stops off for panoramic views from Table Rock, and winds up at Glady Fork Creek, a stream crowded by hemlocks. Bring your rod: The water's brimming with trout. Wrap up the 60-mile loop (43 miles on dirt, 17 on pavement) with a mellow rail-trail climb along the Blackwater River until you reach Coketon, 1,000 feet below Table Rock.
RESOURCES For info: Blackwater Bikes, in Davis, 304-259-5286, www.blackwaterbikes.com; Blackwater Falls State Park, 800-225-5982, www.blackwaterfalls.com.
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