This Sedalia gravel loop has striking views of both the snow capped mountains on the ascent and impressive rock formations jutting out of the plains on the descent.
There is a mixture of forest roads that had us winding through pine trees and past enormous rock formations that made us feel like we were much further away than just a 35-minute drive from Denver.
This is a highly trafficked area with ATVs, dirt bikes and cars. It was probably the most motorized vehicles we’ve seen in such an otherwise remote area! Some of the traffic was respectful of our presence and slowed down but there were also a few that continued to be aggressive when they passed. (We had so much dust on our faces by the end of the ride we were all a shade darker!)
There is about a 1.5 – 2 mile section on Forest Road 503 (at about mile 20) that was very challenging to ride because of the grade, loose gravel and poor road quality. We ended up alternating between walking our bikes and cursing as we tried to pedal through this section.
Do this ride if you want an incredibly tough challenge and you have a streak of crazy in you. The first climb was NO joke with grades up to 15% and the second shorter climb was partially unridable.
Surprisingly, we didn’t have cellphone service where we parked even though we were very close to the town of Sedalia. (Remember to preload the route onto your bike computer before you get to the start!)
Although this ride is only 34 miles, don’t be fooled. This is a very hard, “experts only” ride. (We constantly underestimate how long a gravel bike ride like this can take compared to road biking. Due to the terrain, carrying more supplies on the bike and steep inclines, it takes a whole different level of bike fitness and will take significantly longer than you expect!)
We had heard that the washboards on Rampart Range Road were terrible, and while there were certainly some washboards, it wasn’t the worst we’ve ridden. The pain of climbing trumped the discomfort of washboards!
This whole area is heavily used by those recreating on motorized vehicles. We imagine it would be quieter/less busy on a weekday.
The first 12 miles are very steep and without shade. There is no place to refill water, so make sure to take enough water to keep you hydrated.
There are a few outhouses that we spotted along the way.
We parked on the roadside at the intersection of South Perry Park Rd and Jackson Creek Rd. While it is not a designated parking lot, there is a dirt area with room for several cars.
Laura Karpinski and Rose Barcklow are the creators of Gravel Bike Adventures. Click on the About page to learn more about them.