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Joder Ranch

  Finding trails to take kids mountain biking on can be a challenge. If you bring them somewhere that's too steep, too busy, or too rocky then you will probably meet with failure. At best your kid just ends up pushing their bike and glaring at you, and at worst they crash and end up with a bloody knee. Recently, I brought my girls age eight and ten up to try a trail called Joder Ranch. After a twenty-minute drive west of Longmont, we pulled into Buckingham Park a few miles up Lefthand Canyon. On a Saturday morning the parking lot was nearly full. Luckily many cars seemed to be cycling in and out pretty quickly. We unloaded bikes and smeared on sunscreen. Then we rode about a quarter mile up Olde Stage road to the trailhead.
  Taking kids or a beginner rider on this trail requires a little preparation beforehand, because the first 500 feet or so is a hike-a-bike. I had prepared my girls, so they pushed their bikes up the steep hill and the first two switchbacks without much eye-rolling. From that point they could mount up and begin pedaling. The trail maintains a steady-but-manageable climb up into a meadow. A few rocks are scattered in the singletrack here and there, but for the most part it’s pretty smooth. I think the lack of rocks is what makes this trail so do-able.





  After cruising up and down some rolls, the trail heads down into a pine forest. Here the rocks do increase and the younger child chose to walk over them while the older one stood up on her pedals and bounced right through. In the trees, the trail forks with a thinner track winding to the left and the main trail continuing up the side of the valley on the right. We tackled the moderate climb up the ridge. Towards the top the little one was again bested by the loose rocks. But her sister just kept grinding in granny gear and was waiting for us at the top.



  We had only gone two miles since we left the pavement, but it was all legit singletrack. From this point the Joder Ranch trail turns into a double track that would eventually wind its way down to highway 36. We just turned around, took in the beautiful view, and then descended the hill we had climbed up. When we came to the fork we hooked onto the thinner trail.














  This little side jag only goes about a mile then ends at a fenceline. But it rides through another pretty meadow and has more of the smooth, manageable singletrack we were searching for. We basically rode a Y shaped out-and-back and logged close to five miles in all. It was a warm sunny day, so we met hikers and dog walkers along the way. We even got passed by a couple of friendly cyclocross riders.
My girls were happy with the ride and said they want to do it again. So, I’m calling it a win. If you are looking to for some entry-level singletrack, definitely go check out Joder Ranch trail.

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