Teocalli Ridge: Not All It’s Hyped Up To Be

Mountain biker pedaling up doubletrack dirt road surrounded by changing aspen leaves in Colorado

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If you search for Teocalli Ridge on TrailForks or MTB Project you’ll come up with five-star reviews and commentary like: “fun, long downhill”, “good flow” and “a couple of hills”.

But the truth is, unless you’re a crazy Coloradoan who enjoys a good sufferfest and have the lung/heart capacity of a yeti, then the only thing memorable about this trail are the views. And they are truly epic.

But the ride itself? A bit brutal and overrated. But beautiful.

Teocalli Ridge
Mountain biker sitting on ground next to bikes looking out over changing aspen leaves landscapes on Teocalli Ridge Trail in Colorado

The pedal up

The trail starts off on doubletrack fire road that continues for about 4 miles with a manageable grade. It winds through cow fields and aspen groves and is actually quite a nice pedal until the final steep pitch, which gives you a bit of a warm-up for what’s coming next.

The doubletrack turns into a steep, loose, shaley 1-mile singletrack climb through more cow pasture which ends at an intersection. Take a rest here – eat some food, guzzle some water – because the ensuing climb along Teocalli Ridge is a grind. It’s steep, the elevation is well over 11,000 feet, and it goes on forever.

Seriously, forever. It’s a lot of pedal, dismount, push, get back on, repeat. Once you reach the woods you think you might just be done, but nope. You gotta huff it up more steep, rooty pitches until you make it to a clearing, and then, finally, you’re done.

Views out over beautiful valley with changing aspens leaves in Colorado

Just kidding.

There’s more climbing. At least two more super steep pitches after the nice forest clearing and a bit of mellower pedaling as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I like climbing. I enjoy a good pedal, but on this trail, you’re probably thinking that the down better be epic.

It’s not.

The descent

When you finally do get to the top (after 1,000+ ft of climbing in under two miles), the first section of the down is crazy fast and crazy fun. If this section went on for another couple of miles I would give Teocalli Ridge a five-star review, too.

But alas, the steep, raw DH is over really quick and then you get spit out onto a lookout with epic views. In the fall the views from this lookout are truly spectacular with the aspen leaves changing to orange and gold and the mountains ready for snow.

Mountain biker standing at lookout over beautiful Colorado valley with changing aspen leaves

From the lookout, the trail heads back into the forest for a few tight switchbacks and then you’re out in the open again with a fast sidehill section that puts the brake pads to good use. This section could be really amazing if there were a handful of swoopy bermed turns.

The finish

And just like that, you’re done. You’re back on the fire road pedaling back to your car wondering whether the 2-hour climb was worth the 15 minutes of mediocre descent.

Would I do it again? Probably not. Am I glad that I did it once? For sure. The view from the lookout was amazing and the chicken wing and ice cream post-ride meal were some of the best food I’ve ever tasted.

Dirt road through Colorado valley with changing aspen leaves

Have you ridden the Teocalli Ridge Trail? What did you think?

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  1. Totally concur with your assessment in this direction. What a buddy and I found interesting is hiking/riding up the to the drop-in from the classic exit. Sure the initial grunt out of the alpine cabbage is tough but after that, it’s really quite nice. It cuts down the level of effort by a lot and lets you enjoy the descent more.

    1. Agreed! It’s been a few years since I last rode Teocalli Ridge, but your way sounds better 🙂 Check out Dr. Park if you’re still in the area – that was my favorite trail.

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