In our line of work, we are lucky to get to be involved in some pretty cool events from time to time. Rocky Mountain ATV/MC was invited again this year to attend the 2014 Trail Preservation Alliance Colorado 600 trail symposium and ride – a five day event to raise awareness for and help preserve motorized, single-track trails open to riders in Colorado and Utah. The event takes place every year in South Fork, Colorado and is headed up by Don Riggle of the TPA, AMA board member Stan Simpson and the organizational efforts of the Texas Sidewinders MC. Important organizations such as the AMA and the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (COVHCO) are represented during the symposium as well.

Eric's KTM Taking in the View

Motivation from the Masters

Each day of the symposium started off with a delicious breakfast while we listened to a speaker who presented information focused on land use. We learned about local success stories and ways that we could each make a difference. Don Riggle is an impressive speaker – his presence commands your attention, but we are always a captive and eager audience as Don and Stan speak to us. It is always nice to have a group of like-minded individuals capable of incremental changes within their own circles of influence all together in one room.

After the morning symposium each day we’d get to go on epic rides. We’d all separate into groups and happily head off for an opportunity to enjoy the very thing we work so hard to preserve.

Taking a Break Along the Trail

Time to Ride!

The first day on the trails we rode Miner’s Creek, just outside of Creede. It was a beautiful and challenging ride. We got the chance to finally ride with a couple that we’d met before and heard a lot about, Greg and Sue. I’d never had a chance to hit the trails with them before, but I’d heard a lot about Sue’s abilities on a bike. From the perspective of a father of three girls that ride, I was very curious to witness her skills myself. I wasn’t disappointed – as the day progressed I learned that Sue is an animal! I went from hoping that someday my girls could ride a trail as gnarly as this to hoping I could keep up with a mid-sixties grandma!

Sue Forging a Water Crossing

After a great first day of riding, we met back up at the motel for dinner. This year we were staying at the South Fork Lodge and it was an awesome experience. The owners of the property were great and took good care of us. After dinner we went out and relaxed around the fire or soaked in the hot tub to unwind.

Crossing Engineer Pass

Day two started out with a sketchy forecast and a good chance of rain, especially in the high country. But we are always up for adventure! Plus, there were three of us, which is the magic number of course, or so I’m told – one to crash, one to stay with the one that crashed, and one to go for help…

The dark clouds made for some stunning backdrops. The vistas were amazing in every direction. We made the trek from South Fork to Lake City figuring we might get a little wet on our way over the nearly 12,800 ft Engineer Pass. Well, we got way beyond a little wet – we were soaked to the bone.

Somewhere in the Clouds
Checking out Engineer PassBMW Taking a Break in the Rain

Although it doesn’t look like it, we had the chance to see some amazing waterfalls. We could see all the way to the top of the mountain peak where the water turned in to a small rivulet. Then we could see it progressively turn in to a roaring river only feet away. Gnarly! I wish we took more pictures but it really was survival mode at that point to get two BMW GS 1200 Adventures and a KTM 950 Adventure up and over the pass. The temp dropped to the mid 30’s and visibility was awful. But the weather improved and the temps rose as we worked our way down towards Animas Forks and Silverton.

After finishing a quick lunch in Silverton, we headed towards Durango. The clouds cleared off the peaks enough to reveal snow on them! We narrowly missed a full on rodeo trying to herd those enormous bikes down a snowy, slick and scary pass! Yikes!

Grabbing Lunch in Silverton

After that, we decided we’d had enough off road for the day and took the pavement around to Pagosa Springs, Wolf Creek Pass and on in to South Fork. Awesome day!

A Tribute in the Forest

Day three turned out to be one filled with a lot of emotion. Riggle is a retired Colonel and many at the event were Veterans of our military. We were led to a Vietnam memorial that is accessed at the end of a dirt road in the middle of the forest. The site was absolutely amazing. The reverence I felt at that remote memorial is a feeling I will always remember. I felt truly honored to be able to go with those men and experience that place. The ride was fun as well but everything was overshadowed by the overall gratitude and respect I was feeling for our Veterans. The memorial honors not only our American Soldiers, but our allies as well. As I sat down to write this article and did some research on the Internet, I discovered that this monument was built in a faraway place to be kept somewhat secret and sacred. Because this is a special monument in a special place, I don’t want to show any disrespect. If you have a desire to go and see this monument, find a Vietnam Veteran and ask him to show it to you.

Trials or Trails?

Day four had us back on the little bikes. We went on a ride with Jason Elliot and a local who showed up on a CRF230 with a trials tire, mentioning that his background was trials. I have been on rides with guys like this before and it usually means gnarly, tight trails…I was correct.

Our Trail Guides for the Day

We spent most of the time in Alder Creek. I didn’t notice many alder trees – switch backs and boulders were all I could see. I finally noticed one tree when the remains of a stump somehow lodged between my forks and front tire and stopped me in my tracks.

Tackling the Alder Creek TrailCatching Logs with my ForksFinding New Ways to Haul Logs

Concluding Another Great Symposium

That final day of riding ended with a big banquet at the local country club. It was topped off by Chris Denison from Dirt Rider magazine as our final guest speaker. His speech was focused on success stories and it was a refreshing way to finish up a great symposium.

This year’s Colorado 600 trail symposium and ride ended up being like the rest: enlightening and a lot of fun! We can’t wait for next year!

Riding Location Disclaimer

By Eric Nelson