This is a worthy loop that will make for a fun day. The views come up just when a little motivation is needed. The terrain changes often with several climbs that will have your legs tired by the end.
This is going to be a hot place midsummer with little shade on much of the route. Restrooms are present at both the Centennial Cone and North parking lots.
The footing is mostly good on this big loop but be sure to have hydration and nutrition with you. Do not expect to find potable water along the loop.
Starting at the Mayhem Gulch parking area, head up the Mayhem Gulch Trail
, which is a nice warm-up. At the first intersection, take a right at the junction with the Juniper Trail
. Continue up Mayhem Gulch on this trail, enjoying the views down into the drainage.
Turning a corner, the car noise from Clear Creek Road vanishes. Entering a nice ponderosa stand, take in the bird sounds, as you head left (west) at the next intersection onto the Travois Trail
. A right at the upper intersection with the Juniper Trail
leads to the Centennial Cone road parking area.
Continue on the Travois Trail
, until you come to another intersection. You'll want to stay right here onto the Elk Range Trail
, following this doubletrack uphill as it gradually winds through large open spaces and a few stands of pine. There are two spots where the trail leads through private property on this section, please respect the signage and property.
At the North trailhead, the loop bears to the right on the North end of the Travois Trail
on awesome singletrack. Follow a drainage and continue across a bridge where Travois Trail
leads to the Evening Sun Loop
trail. Enjoy the views into a drainage here as this fun section traverses around a small hill.
Follow Travois Trail
South (right) at the intersection. This will eventually lead to the top of a spectacular ridge. From here, enjoy some nice downhill, cross a creek at a bridge and begin a longer climb back through a section of pine. Once on top, it is mostly downhill all the way past the Mayhem Gulch Trail
intersection to the Juniper Trail
junction. A left here leads down the Juniper Trail
, then the Mayhem Gulch Trail
and back to the parking area.
The trail will be mostly in the open with meadows dominating the landscape and foothills as the backdrop. The meadows with the bordering trees provide prime habitat for deer and birds.