Middle Kingdom, a 2-mile trail that's a part of the illustrious Stone Temple Network in Curt Gowdy State Park, is a genuine diamond in the rough. Located in the outskirts of Cheyenne, Wyoming, this intermediate-level trail offers a medley of rocky, granite features and sweeping vistas. But beware, some riders say it can be easy to lose your way amongst the network of gravity lines and switchbacks.
The trail starts near the north end of Crystal Ridge and is accessible from the Canyons trail within Curt Gowdy State Park (CGSP). To make it a loop, you'll need to incorporate a part of the Canyons trail. Most GPS and trail maps available at CGSP will guide you to the start point with ease.
Middle Kingdom is a delectable experience if you know how to pick the right route. Ride it clockwise to first encounter a 300ft steady climb through a narrow gravel singletrack. The ascent winds its way through scrub brush hills, punctuated with jutting granite slabs. These slabs offer sporadic opportunities for technical riding but are more decorative than challenging.
The trail eventually tops out, opening up to stunning vistas and expansive meadows. From here, riders can opt to descend back to the Canyons trail or explore the network of "gravity lines" indicated on the trail map. However, the signage can be misleading; even experienced riders have reported difficulty translating the map into the actual trail intersections. As one cyclist puts it, "The switchbacks with loose gravel really limited my speed, and the line I chose wasn't very interesting. Better signage would have helped."
Middle Kingdom offers an intimate ride among the more celebrated trails at CGSP. While it may not be as adrenaline-pumping as some riders hope, its unique combination of features and settings make it a hidden gem. So if you find yourself at Curt Gowdy, and if adventure mixed with a bit of ambiguity is what you seek, Middle Kingdom is well worth the exploration.Happy riding, and as always, consult the trail map and signage for the best experience.