FATMAP difficulty grade
If you're looking for a backcountry loop ride from Angel Fire that will get you out into the middle of nowhere, look no further than the Elliot Barker Trail! While you'll pedal to the top on two-wheel-drive dirt roads past houses, once on the trail, the grassy, little-ridden singletrack will instantly confer that sought-after middle-of-nowhere feeling. You can begin this ride from either the Elliot Barker trailhead marked here or from downtown Angel Fire by climbing the Sage Trail.
If riding the route as mapped, the first section will require some careful navigation, making sure to follow this map through a variety of twists and turns.
Once onto the dirt road climb, the navigation gets much more straightforward, although you'll still need to watch for a few key turns.
Finally, after miles of climbing, you'll have reached the top and the goal of the ride: the Elliot Barker Trail! The turn-off of the incredibly scenic doubletrack and onto Elliot Barker is signed, but the singletrack is faint and grassy.
The first section of rocky, grassy trail heading straight up the ridge is a difficult pedal or a hike-a-bike.
Once on top, get ready to rip! The descent off the ridge is fast and furious, dropping down boulders and rock ledges, and slashing down steep, narrow fall line singletrack.
After another short climb comes more rowdy descending.
This first section of trail, while little-ridden, is undoubtedly the highlight of the route! After crossing a saddle, you'll climb back up to the top of another ridge and rip down towards the highway.
At the highway, a right turn will take you back down to the trailhead where you began.
Unfortunately, most of this final downhill, which loses the majority of the elevation, is on wide doubletrack trails, not the sweet, flowy singletrack we all desire.
Consequently, Elliot Barker is best if you're really looking for an adventure ride.
If you really want to do some steep climbing and get up onto a beautiful ridge in the middle of nowhere, and have a few bits of rewarding singletrack mixed into the doubletrack and dirt road, then this ride is for you.