The beautiful late summer weather has continued here in Northern Colorado and of course this meant another wheeling trip on Sunday, September 27, to what may be my favorite trails yet as they provided the "Jeepin' trinity" of rocks, water, and mud!! Coney Flats and Middle St. Vrain (Boulder County, Colorado) were an easy hour’s drive from Fort Collins and in my ongoing quest for some mud I finally hit pay dirt!
After researching the Middle St. Vrain and Coney Flats trails on Trail Damage (TD) I decided to do them backwards. The trails are run both ways, though most often Mid St. Vrain is run first and Coney Flats second as the two intersect. (To do only one of the trails you’d just go out and back on whichever one you choose, but it makes for a good trip if you do both together). Running Mid St. Vrain first puts most of the rock obstacles uphill, but I wanted better photo opps, so decided on a mostly downhill run (this is also easier, I admit). Note: running these trails downhill means that you’ll have to find a place to pull over to provide right-of-way for any uphill vehicles you meet, which I think actually makes up for the easier downhill obstacles. During this run I met a total of 16 vehicles, all coming uphill at various places along the trail. Finding a decent spot to pull over was sometimes a bit of a challenge but I persevered.
From Lyons, the Coney Flats trailhead at Beaver Reservoir is an easy 14.2 miles on CO-7W toward Allenspark, and another 7.4 miles from a left turn onto CO-72E, after which you’ll turn right onto Beaver Reservoir Rd. This isn’t marked as such (but check your mileage or GPS) and about 50 yards in you’ll see signs for Beaver Reservoir. Follow this road, which may be a very wash-boardy ride – I actually pulled over midway and aired down and disconnected my sway bar to make it more comfortable. The Coney Flats trailhead is marked on the far side of the reservoir and I was impressed with the Coney Flats signage (old and new) along the trail.
Coney Flats is a pretty steady rocky trail. It had a couple spots that needed some negotiation and careful tire placement but for the most part it was just rocky and rough with intermittent muddy areas. Most of these muddy areas were also rocky and required slow going, except for one, at which I got my mud fix!
We hadn’t reached the “lake” yet and it was way past lunchtime, so we stopped to picnic at an area with a great view at almost 10,000 feet. One of the reasons I wheel is for views like this, so easily obtainable with the right ride. The air was so crisp and clean, and the quiet was refreshing.
After lunch, we quickly came upon the Coney Flats “lake,” which is not really a lake but a still part of the stream. I drove back and forth a couple times for photos and it was a good experience although mud is still more my thing than water. TD gives a good description of how to tell if the water level is ok to cross.
Then it was time for some flexing on a large boulder near the “lake,” and on we went.
Shortly after the “lake” the Coney Flats trail met a T which I knew was Middle St. Vrain, and it was also marked as such (I’ve gotta say I loved the signs on this trail, very different from others I’ve run recently). I turned right (left would dead end, though it’s said to be a nice place to picnic), and Mid St. Vrain turned out to be another rough and rocky ride with bigger rock obstacles. I scraped bottom a couple of times, which was unavoidable, and my nice new wheels don’t look so new anymore.
As the Mid St. Vrain trail descended it got easier and easier, so I captured one last photo of our beautiful Colorado fall aspens.
Continuing on, I crossed a very fresh stream. I pulled over to take photos and after wading into the water my feet were numb in 30 seconds. Now that’s glacial!
A ways further, I reached a very large boulder with obvious tire tracks around it, and I knew this to be the “S” shaped obstacle described on TD. It was followed after a short ways by a pile of large rocks beyond which we could see the parking lot (the end / start of Middle St. Vrain). TD lists this as a “guardian” obstacle and it does indeed require careful tire placement. If you’re in doubt as to whether you could do this trail, start at this end with the guardian obstacle and find out!
The parking lot at the end / start of Middle St. Vrain is large with plenty of places to find a level spot to reconnect sway bars and air back up. Late on a Sunday afternoon it was not busy for us. From there we went through Camp Dick and with GPS back to CO-7E toward Lyons.
Overall I would rate this as technical as Greer Road South West, but with more interest along the way (mud and water). Middle St. Vrain and Coney Flats will definitely be a repeat run for me and I can’t wait to try this trail combo when it’s seriously wet and muddy for more of a challenge. Happy Trails!