Penitente Canyon near the town of La Garita, just a bit east of Wolf Creek pass.

Two of the more significant events in this area's past are as follows: About 33 million years ago there was an active (and no doubt exciting) period of volcanism, which spread around heaps of ash, which hardened into rock, and now fills the canyon with interesting terrain. Also a tiny sect of the Catholic Church named Los Hermanos Penitentes holed up in here and gave the place its name. This area is much better known for rock climbing than camping, but there is a designated mountain bike trail, and I figure if the BLM was nice enough to put it in, I’d return the favor and ride it. I had no illusions about this being an epic ride, merely a nice stopover for the journey.

My advice here, stick to A, do two loops if needed. B has one nice descent, paid for immediately in the form of a big double track gravel road schlog.

 All in all, it was a perfect way to break up the drive and stretch the legs out. I wouldn't say that there is enough trail here to constitute an MTB destination in its own right. But rumor has it that there is a hot spring in the canyon. And there is definitely camping.  Hmmm, full moon night ride?


Copyright Estate of Anthony Vail Sloan 2009