The Gravel Gruel
The Gravel Gruel is an all time favorite here at The Dirty Roads. Named after the legendary road ride called the Gore Gruel which takes in Rabbit Ears Pass, Gore Pass and Yellow Jacket Pass; the Gravel Gruel starts with the same ascent up Rabbit Ears Pass before turning off onto the Buffalo Park road (FR100) where the pavement gives way to a spectacular stretch of rolling high country terrain. The 22 miles of the Buffalo Park road takes you through the remains of old forest fires, wildflower filled meadows and Buffalo Park itself. When riding from north to south many of the corners have a descending radius, which means that they get tighter as you go around and deserve some special attention. Leaving the Buffalo Park road you take a hard right turn onto the Rock Creek Road (FR250) and a short steep climb back into Routt county where you begin the long descent down to the Gore Pass road and turn right for a few miles of pavement before turning right again back onto the dirt for the short climb up to the summit of Lynx Pass.
Burn Area in Buffalo Park
Just before the summit of Lynx Pass there is a campground on the left side of the road where you can top off your water from the hand pumped well. The water at the campground is not very good and I usually bring a water filter and filter water from Tie Creek. Tie Creek runs right next to the road as you begin the short climb up Lynx Pass but I prefer to filter water from above the cattle pasture and ponds, so I detour up FR 263 about a half mile to the Tepee Creek trailhead where the water is clean and cold.
The descent from the pass starts off fast and rough but turns into long rolling stretch of mostly downhill gravel that takes you to Stagecoach Reservoir. Staying on the east side of the reservoir you will take a short section of gravel trail that takes you around the reservoir and across the dam to county road 18. The next three miles of are the roughest part of the Gravel Gruel mostly due to the potholed nature of the road. Following the Yampa river through the aptly named Pleasant Valley you will come out into the wide open Yampa Valley where there are just a few hills and a couple miles of pavement taking you back to Steamboat Springs.
Other options for riding the Gravel Gruel would include a shuttle up Rabbit Ears Pass that could easily cut a couple hours off of your riding time on what is otherwise an all day ride. Riding the route in a couter-clockwise direction is a nice option for those who aren’t comfortable with the long fast descents, that way your day will include a series of long gradual climbs and finish with a fast paved plunge down Rabbit Ear Pass and back to town.
Filtering Water at Tie Creek