Set in the high-altitude town of Cloudcroft, New Mexico, the High Altitude Racing Loop is a mixed bag of grueling ascents, technical singletracks, and exhilarating downhills. The trail spans approximately 10 miles, marking it as a demanding course best suited for seasoned riders.Essential Info:
Begin at High Altitude, a bicycle/clothing shop located on Burro Street, which serves as the town's central shopping area. Free maps detailing the loop are available here. Given that certain sections of the trail aren't well-marked, securing a map is advisable.
Starting at the town dump, the trail unfolds into a narrow singletrack featuring a steep climb near a radio tower. Overcome this elevation, and you are met with a challenging descent leading to a utility road.
Once past the locked gate and cattle guard, you will encounter a breathtaking pasture. The real crown jewel follows—a rapid descent into Bailey Canyon. Fast and fun, this section alone often validates the ride.
Expect a laborious climb after Bailey Canyon, leading to the Osha trail. Despite the climb's intensity, the subsequent descent into the picturesque Osha Canyon offers a resounding payoff. Finally, a forest road returns you to downtown Cloudcroft, closing the loop.
While the High Altitude Racing Loop may lack the finesse and flow found in trails specifically designed for mountain biking, it offers a unique blend of technical sections and natural beauty. However, it's not a course for the unprepared or faint of heart. This ride is as challenging as it is rewarding, made even more so by its namesake—high altitude. Prepare well, and the experience will be worth every pedal stroke.