Switzerland Trail (North)
Welcome to the Switzerland Trail of America, an old railroad grade that once connected many of the mining camps in Boulder County. History buffs should start here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland_Trail. We've divided the Trail into North and South sections because they are not typically ridden at the same time.
The North section of Switzerland Trail begins where it intersects Fourmile Drive (also called Wall Street) in the hamlet of Sunset, and generally heads north to Trail's terminus at Sawmill Road near Lefthand Canyon Road. Switzerland Trail is often used as part of a longer training or acclimatization ride (2% body fat fun-haters rejoice!), combined with other trails/dirt roads. It is most often ridden northbound starting in Sunset. As an old rail grade there are no steep pitches and no singletrack, which can make the riding a little ho-hum. However, there are spectacular views at times and some excellent points of interest nearby (depending on the route you choose) for the traveler.
A great loop for the triathlete pretending to be an MTBer, from town take the Boulder Creek Path, then on paved Fourmile Canyon Drive, left on to the dirt Fourmile Drive/Wall Street to Switzerland, Switzerland to Gold Hill Road and back down Sunshine Canyon into town. This loop involves major vertical and altitude, the gentlest average grade you will find for such a long climb (save a final steep pitch), cool things to check out, great views and little chance those white Assos shorts will get soiled.
The Switzerland Trail is not for the knuckle-dragging shuttle crowd with 6"+ bikes. There are no interesting downhill sections. Who it works for are riders looking for a long training/conditioning ride that won't leave them feeling beaten-up and novice riders looking for some exercise and a few photo ops. For the first group, the route above is recommended. For the latter group, an out-and-back from Sunset to Gold Hill Road would do nicely. The section of Switzerland from Gold Hill Road to Lefthand Canyon is not ridden as much as it does not work so well as part of a big loop and has lesser views.
Starting in Sunset (be considerate if you park here- Fourmile Road is not wide and you don't want the locals going all Deliverance on you), Switzerland (unmarked) is the gravely jeep road that heads northeast initially. The surface varies from packed dirt to gravel to small rock, never getting very technical. The even grade climbs in and out along the canyon wall for 3.5 miles and then levels some near ridgeline. There are sidetracks from here so make sure you stay on the main road (pretty obvious). The area is heavily used by all types of off-road vehicles (source of all those side tracks) on summer weekends so be cautious around corners (just like ATVers are- wink, wink) and expect to have to squeeze past a 4x4 or two.
Continue generally north and sweeping views to the west appear soon. There is practically a Disney sign commanding you take a picture here. You'll pass a very fine picnic site on your right. Continue on the road, relatively flat now, until it intersects Gold Hill Road, the turnaround point for a beginner ride. About 5.5 miles one-way. Switzerland continues on the other side with the same gentle grade but now heading down about 4 miles to Lefthand Canyon. The town of Gold Hill is a couple of miles, and a very steep grade, east from here.
The return trip is, um, the same, but in reverse. Rock on.
|Switzerland North and South KMZ||5.01 KB|
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