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Video: COMBA Opens First Purpose-Built Downhill Trail on Colorado's Front Range

Aug 31, 2019
by Don Stefanovich  
Views: 1,178    Faves: 6    Comments: 0


FLOYD HILL, CO - Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA) held an opening celebration for The Sluice aka Segment 4 on Wednesday, August 21, with more than 100 riders in attendance. Part of the new Floyd Hill Open Space Trail System, The Sluice is a 1.3-mile bike-only directional downhill trail just 30 minutes from downtown Denver. Built specifically for bikes on public lands in Clear Creek County, the trail is the first of its kind on Colorado’s Front Range, an area encompassing the foothills west of Denver.

As the area’s first purpose-built downhill mountain bike trail, The Sluice features a variety of manmade features—the majority of which are not found elsewhere on Front Range trails—including jumps, berms, drops, step-downs, step-ups, technical rock lines and several optional alternative lines.

Dropping 700 vertical feet—with I-70, Colorado’s main mountain artery, as a backdrop—The Sluice’s main trail is rated blue square/black diamond, with the alt. lines varying in difficulty from black to double-black diamond.


bigquotes“We want to introduce these concepts and the resulting experiences on the trails to the Front Range public to build support for implementation at other trail systems in nearby areas,” says Executive Director Gary Moore. “It is important to have this public support to enable land managers to make difficult, bold changes to their trails.”


The Sluice is the first public Front Range trail with manmade jumps. | Photo: Jason Holzworth

The trail represents significant progress for mountain bikers on the Front Range, a region where bike access is typically relegated to multi-use trails, bikes must yield to all other trail users and downhill traffic is expected to yield to uphill. Designed and built by Flow Ride Trail Concepts, The Sluice provides an experience that previously wasn’t available in the region without buying a lift ticket at a downhill mountain bike park. COMBA says the demand was evident.

Outspoken mountain bikers showed up to county planning meetings over the last two years to voice support for a directional bike-only trail, and individual contributions were significant in the more than $38,000 COMBA crowdsourced for the design and build of The Sluice. And on August 21, the turnout for opening night far exceeded expectations.

Credit Jonathan Crays
Riders take side-by-side alt. lines on The Sluice. | Photo: Jonathan Crays

“Everyone was thrilled with the purpose-built features on the downhill trail and opinion was unanimous that nothing like this exists anywhere else in the front range,” says Clear Creek County Trails Supervisor James Kovaly. “Seems a lot of hard work by a lot of people over the last three months has really paid off. This was truly a public-private partnership.”

The Sluice is part of the Floyd Hill system which currently features approximately 6 miles of multi-use trail with several more planned or under construction. The Floyd Hill trail network is expected to total approximately 12 miles upon completion according to the proposal.

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“We’ve been excited about this project because it is professionally designed, professionally built and it includes all the modern trail management techniques such as separation by user, separation by speed and directional trails,” says Moore.

The Floyd Hill Trail Network has gone from concept to reality over the last two years and is the culmination of cooperation between stakeholders including COMBA, Clear Creek County, Clear Creek County Open Space, Mountain Area Land Trust, Trust for Public Land, Great Outdoors Colorado and Gates Family Foundation. Sponsors include Team Evergreen Cycling, Yeti Cycles, Pedal of Littleton, Wheat Ridge Cyclery and Colorado Deck Master.

A group watches as a rider tests a technical section of The Sluice | Photo: Jason Holzworth

Other recent advancements in the region supported by COMBA include an existing 0.9-mile section of Longhorn Trail at White Ranch Open Space near Golden, CO, being designated bike-only downhill directional, and a new extension off Dakota Ridge in Morrison, CO, being bike-optimized with a directional segment.

Upcoming projects for COMBA include the Virginia Canyon Mountain Park in Idaho Springs which will feature several downhill bike-only trails in addition to multi-use bi-direction trails. The City of Idaho Springs has also approved plans for a gondola to the top of the canyon to provide trail access, a project to be paid for and constructed by the Argo Mill.

A rider boosts off a rock feature on The Sluice at Floyd Hill. | Photo: Jason Holzworth

COMBA is also leading a regional planning effort dubbed Outside 285 to bring area land managers, wildlife experts and trail user groups together with the goal of preserving valuable wildlife habitat and identifying opportunities for improving recreational amenities and infrastructure.

“We are working with trail users and land managers to find the best balance of conservation and recreation to maintain a healthy Colorado landscape,” says Moore.

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Photo: Jason Holzworth

Photo: Jason Holzworth

Photo: Jason Holzworth

Photo: Jason Holzworth

Photo: Jason Holzworth

Credit Jonathan Crays
Photo: Jonathan Crays

Photo: Jason Holzworth

Photo: Jason Holzworth

Credit Jonathan Crays
Photo: Jonathan Crays

Photo: Jason Holzworth

Credit Jonathan Crays
Photo: Jonathan Crays

Photo: Jason Holzworth

Photo: Jason Holzworth

by Don Stefanovich

Posted In:
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26 Comments

  • 14 2
 Best trail in the region! We've been waiting so long for something like this!
  • 3 0
 Nice article Don. Congrats on helping start what hopefully becomes the first of many MTB only trails for you guys over there - lord knows you need it. When I was over there last month for a concert we rode at Evergreen and Lair and the amount of hikers you encounter is CRAZY. Sweet shot of you on the Canfield too!
  • 1 0
 Dude. Your on front page Pink bike! Sick!
  • 3 0
 Just rode it yesterday and it is awesome!

If this is what $38,000 can do, I know a few people who would be more than willing to pull out the check book to help bring more of this in the future.

Great work guys and if you get the word out before the next fundraiser, we could probably double it!
  • 2 0
 @AntiGrav87, glad you dig it! Definitely a huge step forward in our area.

We already have more in the works and we can use all the support we can get, financial and otherwise.

We'll be sure to get the word out about specific projects, but you can find out more about how to become a member or make individual donations here: www.comba.org/membership-fundraising
  • 3 0
 Awesome work by COMBA and props to Clear Creek County for letting this happen! Boulder County and Jefferson County need to follow Clear Creek's example. Floyd Hill is a start but the Front Range still needs a bunch more DH-only trails.
  • 1 0
 Let's hope it sets an example for nearby counties! We are so far behind the curve when it comes to directional bike-only trails.
  • 9 2
 Big win for ColoRADo!
  • 6 4
 Awesome! Where do we park at the end of the run so we can shuttle back up?
  • 3 0
 @slow-burn: this one isn't shuttleable, but it's an easy pedal up for more laps. They were discussing adding a "push" path to easily recycle it for the guys who just want to do DH. Not sure if/when that will happen.
  • 4 0
 Well now we really need more! How do we get on Denver Mountain Parks to develop some of their parks @COMBA
  • 2 0
 We're working on it! But DMP is a different story.
  • 4 1
 Nice work guys and girls, can't wait to check this out! Also the one-way designation for Longhorn was a game-changer, thanks for that!
  • 4 1
 My favorite part about Floyd Hill is large traffic jam there on a Saturday morning on the way to the ski slopes
  • 1 1
 This trail looks super dope, but you can go an hour west and rip insane singletrack in Summit County for a week straight. I appreciate the ease of access, but why not drive 60 extra minutes for all the DH specific trails and singletrack you could ever want?
  • 3 0
 Because the Colorado lift bike parks are only open from mid-June to end of Sep.
  • 1 0
 Because you want to ride after work...
  • 2 0
 I don't know from nothing but pretty cool to see a regular company listed among all the bike-related sponsors...Colorado Deck Master.
  • 2 0
 Headline is untrue. We had one down in Colorado Springs for about a month and a half before this one opened.
  • 1 0
 Is the freeride section open at Ute valley?
  • 1 0
 @larrythelamb: Yeah its open now
  • 3 0
 Ah. I don't think of that far south being "Front Range," but guess it is. Love the trails in the Springs, will have to check out the new stuff!
  • 3 1
 The trail is a masterpiece. Can’t wait for other trails like this to come to fruition! Nice COMBA
  • 2 0
 Admin: please correct the trail contractor’s name to ‘FlowRide Concepts’
  • 3 1
 cant wait to check this out. those drops looks really sweet

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