Trailhead Location: Stratton Open Space, CO Springs, CO
Trail Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Length: Varies, for downhill ride only, about 2 miles
Time to Bike: 10-15 minutes per run downhill
After a three-hour class, there are few things that relieve Block Plan stress as successfully as biking the Chutes trail.
The trail is conveniently located just 15 minutes southwest of campus in Stratton Open Space, near North Cheyenne Canyon (which makes it possible to bike a couple runs and then fit in some climbing in the Canyon in an afternoon).
The easiest way to do the Chutes is to find a car and a few friends and run a shuttle system so that you can race down the trail, beginning just off of Gold Camp Road, while one driver loops back to pick you up at the bottom, the park entrance off of Ridgeway Avenue.
There are many trails in Stratton Open Space that link up with the Chutes, providing endless options and making it hard to define a specific route and length because each run consists of lots of choices that (usually) lead down to the park entrance.
The average route only takes 10-15 minutes from top to bottom, making it easy to do multiple runs and giving everyone a chance to shuttle and ride. The drive and the bike usually take about the same time, so it becomes a challenge for the bikers to beat their driver down to the bottom.
The trail is described on examiner.com as a “local mountain biking favorite… featuring a fast, slick descent with numerous jumps and banked turns.” It begins with a steep, wooded section, then transitions into more open terrain with beautiful mountain views. Difficulty is rated as moderate, so depending on pace and trail conditions, the trail can be a great introduction to downhill biking or a somewhat challenging ride for more experienced bikers.
The Chutes can get extremely rutted after rain and were particularly bad after the storms a couple weeks ago, with deep chasms in the middle and along the sides of the trail. However, I biked the Chutes on Oct. 13 and found the trail to be in great shape with the exception of just a couple sections that are still slightly rutted.
One thing to be cautious of is the prevalence of hikers, joggers, and uphill bikers, particularly on the weekends. I wouldn’t recommend biking up the Chutes trail; it seems that biking uphill involves a lot of hopping off the trail to make room for people speeding down. There are other options to bike uphill in the area.
If you’re looking for a hike nearby, Gold Camp Path is recommended.
In all, my only wish is that the trail was longer. I hear you can combine the Chutes with the a trail called Captain Jack’s to lengthen the descent, so that’s next on my to-bike list.
Emma Longcope, Staff Writer