For its close proximity to Durango, the Haflin Creek trail is a solid dose of big mountain riding. Highlighted by four miles of downhill with a variety of scenery and conditions, it's a stellar ride that is often overlooked.
But what comes down, first goes up. From Forest Service Road 071, atop the Durango Hills subdivision, you must climb about 1.5 miles before you reach the trailhead, with a few key turns to get you there.
Once at the trail sign, you get an idea at where you are: high on a mountain ridge overlooking the Animas River Valley, staring at the eastern face of the La Plata Mountains.
This entire area burned in 2002, during the 70,000-plus acre Missionary Ridge fires, leaving behind a scorched landscape that is now rejuvenating, but the charred skeletons of dead trees still stand their lonely guard over the majestic, steep creek drainage.
Part eerie, part beautiful, when you drop in, the trail blazes mountain sides, swerves through bedrock arroyos, dashes around obstacles and cuts the undergrowth like a machete.
Adding to the excitement are the widow makers – those trees come down – so be prepared for fallen and falling timber. An avoidable stick bridge adds a thrill crossing a rusty, sandstone wash.
As the trail closes in on the valley floor, the grade remains and some exposure gets intense; A fall would be costly. Negotiating red rock dusty cliffs, it bucks wildly. Local Enduro pros test their skills around bends with shocking speed. By the time you're down, the stillness is almost awkward.
This ride can be done from town, or some may opt to be dropped off at the trailhead, then pedal back home on a scenic country road following the madness. Others just shuttle, shaking out their hands and getting in another lap.