FATMAP difficulty grade
The Hermosa Creek Trail has been a famous mountain bike ride since the dawn of the sport.
This old school forest service trail is pitched at the perfect angle for delightful cross country pedaling.
In fact, the popularity of Hermosa Creek provided the name for [Hermosa Tours](https://hermosatours.net/), one of the most popular mountain bike tour companies in the Rocky Mountain West and the recommended shuttle company for this point-to-point ride. The route mapped here runs from the shuttle drop off point to where you're picked up at the beginning of the day (and will leave your car), and thus includes several miles of dirt road riding on either end of the route.
Both of the sections of dirt road are conveniently pitched downhill for their entire lengths, meaning the additional miles don't add any extra work to the ride. Once on the trail, you'll begin by pedaling through meadows on a wide doubletrack before entering the narrow creek valley.
One of the most iconic spots on the trail, a rocky cliff overhanging the singletrack, comes in the first few miles of pedaling.
Eventually, you'll pass through another wide meadow in the bottom of the valley, and the trail will finally narrow down to true singletrack at a point where quads are no longer allowed.
Dirt bikes are still allowed on the rest of the trail, so ride aware of potential motorized traffic in addition to hikers, runners, horseback riders, and cattle (due to grazing). Once the track gets truly single, the swoop and flow of the trail really cranks up! The downhills are fast, flowy, and generally smooth, and the climbs, while steep in places, are all manageable.
In spots, the smooth track is punctuated by some challenging rocks, ruts, or washed out zones, often due to the motorized use or cattle that graze the land.
But after negotiating the occasional challenge, it's back to beautifully bench cut singletrack! The bench cut undulates up and down the mountainside above Hermosa Creek.
At times you're pedaling along the very banks of the creek, and at others, you'll have climbed high above the valley below, enjoying gorgeous views of the San Juans in the distance. Much of the Hermosa Creek Valley burned in a fire in 2018, leaving hundreds of scorched trees lining the trails.
However, even at the time of this writing in 2020, the undergrowth is coming back quickly, with aspen saplings springing up all along the trail.
Soon, the singletrack will be shrouded in a beautiful aspen grove, leaves whispering in the wind.
But until the aspens have reached maturity, expect to spend some time busting through saplings and underbrush.
You'll also have to cross the occasional downed tree as burned trunks continue to fall.
Regardless, nature is prevailing and reclaiming what is hers.