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coal creek trailheadMost of the gang mountain biked Jackson Mountain Wednesday morning.  I went for a solo trail run on Coal Creek Trail.  The trail head is 4.4 miles down Fawn Gulch Road which sits at mile marker 148 on Hwy 160.  Fawn Gulch is another well maintain forest service road near Pagosa Springs.  Drive east and you cross a cattle guard at 1 mile.  Another at 1.8 miles, closely followed by a hairpin turn at 2 miles.  Stay right at an unmarked fork at 2.2 miles, cross a 3rd cattle guard at 3.6 miles and you’ll soon see the trailhead on your left.

coal creek trailThere were people milling about at the trailhead but the trail itself seems rarely used.  Plants were dense over the trail.  They ripped the flesh from my shins and ankles making me wish I’d have worn my gators.  Blow down was constant with small and large trees that appeared to have been there for years.  While the trail followed the creek, it crossed several times and rose up steep bluffs causing me to walk portions.  I ran mostly through trees but some sections opened up like in this picture.  Non-use made it difficult to spot the trail several times.  A few cairns kept me from getting lost.  I turned around though, earlier than I would have otherwise, when I got tired of looking for the trail.

logI assumed I might find the trail somewhere past this log, possibly on the other side of the creek, but constantly slowing to seek it became too frustrating after a couple of miles.  And I was getting hot.  I ran more on the return as it presented me with more downhill.  This video gives you a sense of the trail in the first mile near the trailhead.

family shotMy second workout came in the form of mountain biking down Nipple Mountain.  We thought this would be a good ride for the kids but I ended up biking hard with Amy and Dave on the final few miles.  We had a tour drop us off at the top so it was essentially a downhill ride.  The top was steeper and required constant braking.  This was a forest service road, Mill Creek Road off Hwy 84.  We started at the end of the road, shortly past the trailhead for Quartz Creek Trail.

riding down Nipple MountainFinished the day with dinner at Kip’s Grill and Cantina and a soak in the Hot Springs.  You know the food is going to be good when the chips and salsa are excellent.  This place has flavor.  More than a bit unpretentious with disposable plates and silverware, but really awesome food.  We sat outside enjoying the weather.  This was our third evening at the Hot Springs as we bought a week long pass.  The water temperature seemed hotter than usual – it’s not regulated so it can vary.  Nice way to melt away the memory of two-a-day workouts.