There is more then meets the eye at DMRA. Yes, the first thing you see when you drive up is the lodge and the most adorable little ski hill with the classic singletrack ascent winding through the tall grass under the lifts. But when you get the map of the area, there's easily as much riding per acre of mountain as any of the big resorts in Colorado. Might not all be black diamond gnarly descending, but there are plenty of miles of trail for the size of the resort. They call it the XC system and it's really well built. There's two different sections - one strictly XC and one that has a lot more climbing to connect into the downhill trails.
We started with the west side - the pure XC riding. Super fun. Not as manicured as the Cuyuna Lakes trails, but not as raw as the KC riding. A good blend of dirt and rocks - nothing super hard, but the kind of riding that gets harder the faster you go. Unlike at the Cuyuna Lakes, the trails were bidirectional - it was tempting to ride the west sides in both directions to get a feel for everything, but there was an entire east side to explore. And the downhill trails! So we rode the loops on the west side and then made our way back to the lodge in the center. A brief stop to look at the map again and we were pedaling. It wasn't like the map was really needed - the park was small enough that getting lost would be hard. We just wanted to know kinda how we should ride for the most fun.
After climbing up for while, we found ourselves on one of the downhill trails. I'm not used to wooden features on the trails in Colorado, so I hesitated a little at the start. But these were well built and not really high of the ground. It did take a little to get comfortable on the features though - I like terra firma under my tires.
And then... The downhill trail popped us out at the lodge, leading to the epitome of ski area riding. It doesn't matter how small the hill is. You have to have the trail under the lifts leading to the summit. In this case the trail only took about 5 minutes to climb - unlike the hour long climbs at home. But it was the thought that counted... I really think it would have taken more time to load onto the lifts, take the lift up and unload then it did to ride up the hill!
|Managed to make the hill look big! The top of the lift is actually just behind those trees.|
But because it was a short climb, that meant we got to hit all the downhill trails! Each one had a different style, from fast and smooth to huge wooden features to a little chunky. And the ski slope climb also allowed access to the XC trails with much less time spent climbing for the fun of descending.
So, Detroit Mountain Recreation Area - another gem in the rough that just needs a little polishing to really shine. And another dot on the map to ride again if we ever make it back out that way! They are actively building and improving trails and the city is working with the mountain bike association to expand that access. The mountain bike associate and the recreation area have big plans for the Detroit Lakes area and it's great to see. The next time we ride there, the miles of trails may have doubled.