February 16, 2018

BCT: Copper Mtn. Loop

Ahh, the legendary Copper Mountain Loop off the Black Canyon Trail, BCT. This first appeared in a forum post back in 2012 or so. It seemed like there would be a new loop to ride shortly thereafter. I don't know the details, but it didn't happen. Then it seemed like it was all but forgotten.

Last week when I was riding south from Orme Rd. I arrived at the XB Ranch gate and saw a pristine swath of brown pow heading off into the foothills of Copper Mtn. Could this be the loop?? I looked online for any info when I got home. Nothing. I messaged Dale, who tends to be in the know on these types of things. He confirmed what I saw saying it had been completed in recent weeks. Cool!!

I really wanted to get back up there to check it out, but a lingering storm system rolled through the Valley during the week. The rain let up early on Thursday and I figured I'd roll the dice for a late morning attempt on Friday.

I'd have to ride the loop like the good 'ol days, no map, no track to follow, just a dirt path...hopefully. The reports from 2012 listed the loop as 7.9 miles, so I figured it would be similar. I wasn't too keen on riding the BCT as an out-n-back to the XB gate so I whipped up a short route the night before to make the lower section a loop as well.

I arrived at the Big Bug trailhead sometime around 11:30a and there were a bunch of bikepackers getting set for a 3 day ride down to Emery Henderson trailhead. They were from Salt Lake City and only one guy had been on the trail before. The were all excited to see what the BCT had to offer. I was thinking how much camp time they were going to have!! 20 miles a day goes by quickly in that direction. Either way, they'll have a blast.

My route started on dirt roads for a few miles. Most of them went downhill where I clocked over 30mph. Glad I'm not riding up those hills I thought.
Copper Mtn. as seen from Old Sycamore Rd.

Near the bottom of a long downhill, I made the turn into Chauncey Ranch in search of a 2-track connection.
I found the 2-track that would lead me up to the XB gate. I also found a Private Property No Trespassing sign there as well. Oops. In my haste to create a track the prior evening I neglected to overlay it on a topo map. Drat. I weighed my options. I wasn't going to proceed that was certain. I could continue north and make the loop from Orme Rd. again, but that would take considerably more time. I guess I'll be backtracking up those hills I just came screaming down. Off I went.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out they weren't too bad. The BCT seemed to arrive in no time. I headed north. There's a nice downhill to start with, then it levels out. I rounded a corner and noticed a trail coming in from the left. Could this be the exit to the Copper Mtn. Loop? Time would tell. I wasn't sure what to expect. The next few miles undulated but generally climbed until I reached the bright green gate.
Can't miss this gate or the fresh dirt leading towards Copper Mtn. in the background.
The only tracks I could see on the brown pow where from the local residents. Cattle.
I love putting tires on new dirt.


The trail is well contoured with typical BCT friendly climbing grades.

Getting high on the flanks of Copper Mtn.

Looks like I'm starting to head downhill.

The route found a few cool rock formations to cut through.

The fresh smell of rain still lingered, but the trail was in perfect condition.

Photo op at one of two gates on the loop.

Contouring a wash as the trail leaves Copper Mtn.

Second gate was here and for a short moment I hoped I could find the trail peeling off this dirt road.

The trail was easily found, but now a bit more primitive in nature.

Plenty of flagging remained and I got a kick out of the BCT sign since I wasn't ON the BCT at the moment.

SR69 & civilization come into view.

I like how the trail found all these rock features to wind through.

Where there's a will, there's a way.

I little bit of exposure thrown in too.

Twisting down and back towards Copper Mtn.

Wide open country up here.

I liked that the trail stayed high on the hillside and not down crisscrossing the wash.

Nice bench cut work here.

The end of the loop. Yes, this was the trail I saw earlier heading north. (Copper Mtn. Loop on the left, BCT to the right)

The end. Ride to the light.
The Copper Mtn. Loop itself ended up being 8 1/2 miles. I think I chose the better direction too, seems this trail rides best N -> S. It can be done similar to what I did today (without the private property backtracking!!) in 15 miles. The other option would be to take the dirt roads up and around to the Orme Rd. trailhead for a 34 mile loop. Both options would be from the Big Bug Trailhead.

Now get out there and ride it!! Make those cattle tracks disappear.


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