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Mountain Biking: Colorado > White River National Forest > Holy Cross Ranger District

Quick Facts

Mill Creek/Benchmark Four-Wheel Drive Road

Difficulty: More Difficult




Satellite and Topo Map




General Description

INTRODUCTION
A unique, scenic and really fun four-wheel drive trail, used frequently by bikers, hikers and four-wheelers. This trail starts from the heart of Vail Village, and runs right up the face of the ski mountain, switching back on the international race hill aptly named "International".

This section is the best place in the area for large scale pictures of Vail Village and the beautiful Gore Range to the east. The first portion of the trail is a graded dirt road, and many ski resort trucks and mountain bikes race through this area... watch out!!

The road takes you past several small waterfalls and creeks, and is lush and green in the summertime. At 5 1/2 miles from the start, you'll see a major spur road to the left (east)--take this trail, it is the start of Benchmark (you can't continue on the ski mountain road from this point due to a locked gate with no access to public vehicles).

At this point, the road becomes a true four-wheel drive road, and it gets continually tougher, culminating with a very steep and bumpy climb to the summit.

There is an abundance of wildlife on this trail, keep your eyes open and you may see any variety. From the turnoff onto Benchmark, there are NUMEROUS spurs--always take the left fork!! Other spurs quickly become mud bogs or end at hunting camps.

Take your time, and stay out of the ruts to avoid becoming high centered. The road finishes with a very steep hill climb to the top of the world with 360 degree views. This mountaintop often hosts large herds of sheep, their herders and dogs... a neat experience. Follow the road around, it will loop back to the start of the last steep climb. Backtrack your way to Vail Village.

TRAIL TIPS
Be sure to watch out for heavy traffic on this road. Bikers especially tend to travel fast, and aren't always aware of traffic! There are many "speed bumps" on the start of the four-wheel drive section. These large mounds with deep dips after them are for water flow. Be sure to travel them slowly, as the dip size varies, and can do damage to shocks and undercarriages of vehicles!

The last 2 miles of this road can be snowy or wet. Do not attempt under these conditions as large ruts and holes will be hidden and potentially can cause major problems! Be sure to use "4-low" and gear down appropriately before attempting the last steep climb to avoid slipping and spinning.



Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Closed. Still has snow towards the top and is muddy. Also elk are calving in the area. Set to open July 1, 2001. Updated: 2001-05-16 11:13:00.0


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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Four-Wheel Driving
Yes
ICON Mountain Biking Ambitious riders can continue on to the Commando Run, which will lead to the Shrine Pass Road and eventually to the Vail Pass Rest Area. Maps and compass are essential for this portion.
Yes
ICON Motorcycle Riding
Yes
ICON ATV Riding
Yes
ICON Viewing Scenery Panoramic views at the end of the road.
Yes



Related Activities
Gore Creek Campground - This campground sits along Gore Creek, just east of Vail, at an elevation of 8700 feet.

Gore Creek General Forest Area - The Gore Creek General Forest Area includes the entire Gore Creek drainage, which runs from Dowd's Junction to Vail Pass and the Gore Range.



More Information

Visitor Information:

Vail Valley Partnership, 100 East Meadow Drive , Vail, CO, 81657, Phone: 800-525-3875, Fax: 970-476-6008, www.visitvailvalley.com

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