Southeastern Wyoming seems to be little more than a vast sweep of high plains. But look closer and you’ll discover sprawling national forests that nurture mile after mile after mile of mountain bike trails that will thrill any level of cyclist. So toss your bike shoes in with your cowboy boots and be prepared to ride when you enter the Cowboy State.
Happy Jack and “Land of the Earth-Born,” aka Vedauwoo
Midway between Cheyenne and Laramie rises a boulder garden of monumental proportion, a rocky landscape laced with single- and double-track routes. Known as “Vedauwoo,” this slice of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is named after the Native American word for “earth-born,” and you just might feel that way pedaling around the towering walls and outcrops of rock.
Among the favorites here is the Turtle Rock Trail, a three-mile loop that negotiates slabs of Vedauwoo’s rockscape. The single-track trail, which is shared by hikers, also cuts through aspen groves and past beaver ponds.
After you’ve warmed up at Vedauwoo, point your car six miles west on Interstate 80 to the Happy Jack recreation area and its abundance of trails. From the Lincoln Monument parking lot (Exit 323) you can roll onto the Headquarters Trail, named after the Civil Conservation Corps headquarters camp based here in the 1930s. Link the Headquarters Trail to the Summit Trail and you’ll have a six-mile loop that offers stunning views north, south, and east to the Vedauwoo area.
Still got some pedal left in you? Then head a mile west along the Happy Jack Road and pass through the Tie City trailhead. From here a four-mile loop through aspen glades and fir trees knits together the Pole Creek, Aspen, Roller Coaster and Blackjack trails. If that’s not enough, there are many more combinations you can string together to stay out until sundown.