OverviewThe Sourdough trail is a wonderful and long singletrack trail nestled between the Peak to Peak highway to the east and the Indian Peaks Wilderness to the west. The trail runs 14.6 miles from Peaceful Valley/Camp Dick south to the Sourdough Trailhead on the CU Research Station road.
The tread is almost all singletrack, smooth to quite rocky, with several moderate climbs. Sourdough rolls through dense forest at elevations ranging from 8500' to 10,200'. There are great views to be had from several vantage points along the way.
Trail DescriptionThe description for the Sourdough trail is for a full point-to-point ride, going from north to south. To go south to north (or to do the full 29.2 mile out and back) simply reverse the route. South to North has 700' less elevation gain.
There are several access points along the trail which can be used to make the route shorter. These trailheads are listed in the "Getting There" section.
North to South:
Beginning at the Buchanan Pass trailhead, ride up the wide jeep road for a short distance. On the left you'll see the Sourdough trail heading uphill. Take this trail. The trail climbs for several miles through dense forest. There are several side trails but the main trail is always well-signed and easy to follow. After topping out on the climb you'll drop quickly to the Beaver Creek Trailhead.
Cross the road and continue on the trail for another mile to the Beaver Bog Trailhead. From here, continue on the Sourdough trail. The trail winds through the woods for almost 6 miles, eventually ending with a long climb up to the Red Rock Trailhead at mile 8.8.
Cross the paved Brainard lake road and continue on the trail. You'll eventually come to the high point of the trail at 10,200' after a long gradual climb of Niwot Ridge. From here, the trail drops quickly for several miles to the end at the Sourdough Trailhead.
Despite many side trails, this trail is quite easy to follow. When in doubt, follow the carsonite posts with arrows or marked 'trail'. Most of the trail is well marked with blue diamonds for winter use. I first did this trail as a night run, in the dark, and had no problems following it.
0.0 - Buchanan Pass/Camp Dick trailhead
2.0 - Beaver Creek Trailhead
3.0 - Beaver Bog Trailhead
8.8 - Red Rock Trailhead
14.6 - Sourdough Trailhead
Getting ThereThere are several places to access the Sourdough Trail. All driving directions are from the traffic circle in Nederland, Colorado. The following are trailheads used (listed North to South):
Directions to Nederland from Boulder:
From Canyon(Hwy 119) and Broadway, take Canyon west, out of town. You'll climb through Boulder Canyon, eventually arriving at Barker Reservoir and Nederland. As you come into town, you'll reach a traffic circle. Take Hwy 72 North to access all trailheads. You'll pass an antique steam shovel on the right and a park-n-ride lot on the left immediately after turning on Hwy 72.
Camp Dick/Peaceful Valley - Elevation 8500'
This is the northern terminus of the Sourdough trail.
From Nederland, take Hwy 72 north for approx 19 miles. The turnout for Camp Dick is Forest Service road NFSR 114, located in a large hairpin turn, at mile marker 50. There are signs for the campgrounds. Pass through both campgrounds and park at the trailhead at the west end of the second campground.
Beaver Bog and Beaver Creek Trailheads - Elevation 9.200'
Take Hwy 72 north from Nederland for approximately 15 miles. Turn west onto County Road 96 (gravel) towards Beaver Reservoir. Go 1.5 miles to an intersection. Take a left to get to the Beaver Bog TH and a right (main road) to get to the Beaver Creek TH. It's about one mile to each trailhead from this intersection.
Brainard Lake Road/Red Rocks Trailhead - Elevation 10,080'
The Red Rock trailhead is located immediately east of the entrance station for Brainard Lake. There is no fee to park here. Take Hwy 72 north from Nederland for about 12 miles. Just after passing Ward (on your right), take a left on County Road 102 (paved). There are signs for Brainard Lake Recreation Area. The trailhead is about 2 miles up this road.
Sourdough Trailhead - 9,200'
This is the southern terminus of the Sourdough trail.
From Nederland, take Hwy 72 north for about 7 miles. Turn right onto a gravel National Forest road (NFSR 298) at the sign for the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station. Follow this gravel road for about 0.5 miles to the Sourdough trailhead. Parking is on the left and the trail is across the road, on the right.
When to BikeSourdough is usually ridable from late-May/early June to sometime in late September or early October, depending on snow. It also makes a great backcountry/cross-country skiing or snowshoeing route in the winter.
Red TapeThere are no fees to park or use the Sourdough Trail