I hiked up the Incline the other day, behind a guy that managed to run most of it, which is an impressive feat. When we reached the summit the guy was still up there, chatting up some other hikers and stretching a bit. My friend Matt started to chat up the runner, who quickly, and almost without provocation, launched into a long description of all of the races and records that he has set. I’m not sure how “what was your time” translates into “give me a detailed history and analysis of your past achievements and tell me a little bit about what your future goals are while simultaneously impressing us with your abilities as an athlete.” As this little exchange was going on, I laughed to myself a bit, and thought of Magnolia. A ride I first heard about after asking a friend how his day was. Which, like our Incline runner, generated a much more detailed response than I wanted; “it was tough man. I did Mangolia. You know, not anyone can do that ride. It’s really only for strong riders. You are probably too fat.” Thanks. I could have settled for “My day was good.” Fuckface.
Magnolia is certainly one of the steeper rides in the Boulder area, with a average grade of 9% and one section near the beginning of the ride hitting a 13% grade (although this is debatable, I’ve found a couple of conflicting websites regarding the steepness of the road). Is it only for strong riders who are not fat? No, definitely not. The ride will get your heart rate up, but its not some impassable challenge that you have to work up to. In fact, its a relatively shorter ride with some great climbing that can provide a good warmup ride or quick workout. It wouldn’t be my first choice coming off the winter months but it is certainlly a great ride once you have legs again.
In the same general area as Sugarloaf, Magnolia is a side road off of Boulder Canyon that heads South into the foothills above Boulder. The beginning of the ride is the hardest as you wind through a series of steep switchbacks and long steep sections, one of which holds the 13% grade. The road will eventually crest, and head downhill into a large, flatter meadow before beginning to climb again. This section is all uphill, but much more gradual than the beginning with fewer switchbacks and some pretty good views of the foothills. The pavement will eventually stop as the road turns to dirt (about 4.6 miles from the beginning of the road). The descent is a lot of fun, with lots of wide curves and steep sections to get your speed up. Just be careful of the 13% pitch on the way down.
Distance: 9.9 miles from start (9th and Pearl Street) to the summit. 19.8 miles round trip.
Directions: take the Boulder Creek Path west until it runs into Boulder Canyon Drive. From there, take a left (head West) on Boulder Canyon Drive and take that through the tunnel until you reach Magnolia Drive, which will be on your left, about 5.04 miles from the start of the ride. Take Magnolia Drive up, up and up until you reach the dirt, about 9.8 miles from the start.