Macleod: Fall firsts on the Fraser-Granby Trail
September 30, 2016
I love this time of year. The kids have all gone back to school, families have wrapped up their summer vacations, and there is finally a feeling of peace and stillness around the Fraser Valley. As the weather becomes cooler and the aspens begin their grand finale, I can't help but to feel an overwhelming desire to spend as much time as humanly possible outside. Ski season is just around the corner, and the red X's on my calendar eagerly count down the days until November 16th.
But as much as the early dustings of snow trigger my anticipation for winter, it is bittersweet knowing that my long days of mountain biking are quickly becoming numbered. I now find myself cranking out more mileage on the trails while simultaneously searching for the best views of our stunning fall landscape. Winter will be here soon enough, so it's important to stop and take in the here and now.
And rather than frequenting the same bike trails over and over again (it's pretty easy for me to stick to the favorites), I make a conscious effort this time of year to get out and try something new. It's always exciting to see our surroundings from a new perspective, especially when they're painted with robust hues of yellow and orange.
Which is why, after calling Grand County home for five years, I finally decided to give the Fraser-Granby Trail a go. At 16.8 miles – and obviously stretching from my house to Granby – I figured what better way to scope out some autumn angles of the valley?
So, on Sept. 13 I headed out late in the morning on what would prove to be one of my more memorable solo rides of the year. As I passed the Fraser Valley Sports Complex and made my way into Tabernash, I found myself constantly stopping to take in the sprawling views and peer at the old mining homesteads that littered the sides of the trail.
The dual track that began the trail soon gave way to a packed, gravel pathway that offered an easy – and mostly – comfortable ride toward Snow Mountain Ranch. I only say "mostly," because I did end up with some soaking wet feet near Winter Park Christian Church. What I thought was only a few inches of water ended up being ankle-high, and my "ford the river" tactic – that so often failed me in those old Oregon Trail games – also failed me in reality. Lesson learned.
But the midday sun dried my feet just in time for what proved to be the crown jewel of the ride. After passing the YMCA, the trail transformed into a climbing singletrack that meandered through glowing aspen groves before dumping me out on the trail network of Granby Ranch. From here, it was all smooth, flowing singletrack that kept me smiling from ear to ear as I approached town.
Once I made it into Granby, I took some time to refuel and rest the legs before turning around and heading home. As I sat outside of City Market, I couldn't help but reflect on how fortunate we are to have such an incredible and easily accessible network of trails in this beautiful place we call home.
I hope you all take some time to get out there and enjoy it. See you next month.