While we have mountain biked the high side of the Academy horse area many times to get back out into our part of town without having to ride all the way around, we have been wanting to find the connection down to the Falcon Trail to provide a longer run than the 13 mile loop. Because of the reservoir system on the southwest side of the Academy, security has been buckled down pretty tight in recent years over in that corner of the installation. With some blech gray skies and cool weather greeting us this morning, we decided to give it a try on the navigation side and do a little recon. Most of this side of the Academy is a labyrinth of horse trails as the Riding Stables are the predominant source of traffic on the southern edge of the base. Since we know the main trails/roads on top, we just had to follow around until we found the connectors to the regular trail system. The stables are open to the public, so it is not like this is off limits for those of you already swirling conspiracy theories in your devilish minds. It just gets a little dicey if you end up making a wrong turn and find yourself "uncomfortably" close to stuff they don't want you around...
Dropping in for some new stash
Off the road and onto some singletrack - note the reservoir below
Finally on the good stuff
After a little less than a mile drop on the dirt road, you pass through a gate onto some nice singletrack. A lot of this is still mainly horse and rider terrain (and horse emptying too...). There is a nice stretch above the reservoir on a ridge and then you drop down toward the road and the intersection with the Falcon Trail right around 2 miles in.
Almost down - the BX is on the far ridge - with a good wind, you might smell Burger King!!
The road - and the Falcon Trail - wait below
Given the drop off the ridge of about 600' elevation, it may not have been the best day to wing it as Kathleen was feeling pretty fatigued. We headed out to the west on Falcon for a bit and noticed that the temps were dropping. Started to wonder if an unexpected front was moving in, which would have been a drag. Weather held out pretty good, though, aside from a drop of about 8 degrees while we were out.
Kathleen runs along a cliff on Falcon Trail
Group shot - K had the tired look today for sure!!!
We turned back toward the south from the base of the big climb on the backside of Falcon. Kathleen was quite spent and decided to start her trek back up to the ridge and I ran with her to the horse gate at the base of the climb. From there, I ran up and over the rim at the BX and then over to the stadium. With a bit of fatigue left over from the long run yesterday, I pulled the plug here and made the turn back, knowing I had 4.5 miles with nearly 1000 feet elevation to climb back out. There were quite a few bikes out today and I had numerous passings back and forth along the way - the trail is in unbelievable condition for late February. This is good and bad - awesome for recreation, however, the double edged sword of sparse precipitation could haunt us this summer...
Deep single-trench, er, singletrack, heading out of the valley
It was a good slog back out to the rim but it is all runnable with some patience. Aside from a few 15% pitches on the road heading out, the grade is manageable and makes for a good addition to the "normal" way we have run the Falcon Trail. Plus, the trail starts only 4 minutes from our house, whereas our normal spot to park for running Falcon Trail ends up being 20 to 25 minutes after going through security check at the front gate. That helps too - longer run, less driving! With the partial loop today, I still got in 13 miles with 2000' of climb again. So it was similar to running the loop proper, just with some new stash thrown in. Next time, it's the whole enchilada - all 17 miles. Then we'll see if there is a different opinion of that climb out... Happy Trails!
Shoes - K Saucony Xodus
S Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC