Matrimony Ridge


Summary

Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 4.2 miles round trip
Starting
Elevation
6100 feet
Cumulative
Elevation
Change
+900, -900 round trip
Navigation Road, marked trail and map
Time Half day
Season January through early April
Snowmobiles Low
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Soda Springs
Start Intersection of Troy Road and Old Highway 40. Exit Interstate 80 at Kingvale, turn west (left) onto Old Highway 40 (located on north side of the interstate), drive 0.5 mile to Donner Trail School, continue 0.1 mile to Troy Road, turn left onto Troy Road, and park. The tour begins on the south side of the interstate which is accessible by an underpass.


Description

Don't miss this tour if you have the skills to complete it; you will be treated to outrageous panoramas from Matrimony Ridge. The most striking view, though there are many, is to the east of Devils Peak. Pick the right angle and you can frame the peak under the weathered Jeffrey pine that adorns Peak 7000 on the ridge. Locals refer to it as the Matrimony Tree because Randy Koerber and Judy Netherwood exchanged vows there on the first day of spring in 1988.

Image of Devils Peak Devils Peak framed by the Matrimony Tree

Image of the wedding party The wedding party

Image of newly weds The newly weds

A little more than a mile of this tour follows the High Loch Leven Lake Trail, established in 1991 by volunteers of the Nordic Voice, predecessor of Snowlands Network. The marked trail makes the navigation easier, but you will still need to look carefully for each successive trail marker and refer to your topo map to navigate parts of the route.

About a half-mile of the route has been over-grown with saplings and they have reached a size that makes travel difficult without considerable snow. For that reason, the stated season for the tour begins in January.

The tour to Peak 6893 is an excellent extension of this tour. Matrimony Ridge is also part of the loop described in the Fisher Lake Overlook tour.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 0.1
Elevation change: +50 feet

From the trailhead (1) ski southwest on the snow-covered road for 0.1 mile until you reach a road junction (2). This junction may be difficult to see if the railroad has plowed this first section; look carefully above the berm for a road heading south (left). Do not be discouraged if this first section is in poor condition; the snow-players do not venture far.

Miles: 0.1 - 0.7
Elevation change: +250 feet

Turn south (left) and follow the road for 0.6 mile until you reach the railroad tracks (3). Unless you are looking hard, you will not notice that you pass one road on your right in this section.

Take off your skis and cross the railroad tracks. Be aware that in heavy snow years the banks on both sides of the tracks can be difficult to negotiate. You may find a shovel useful.

Image of trail crossing railroad tracks It is easy to cross the railroad tracks in spring

It goes without saying that you should exercise extreme caution when crossing the railroad tracks — use both your eyes and ears.

After crossing the tracks, locate the extension of the road on which you have been skiing. It is marked with a sign indicating the start of the High Loch Leven Lake Trail. That ski trail is described in the High Loch Leven Lake tour.

Miles: 0.7 - 0.9
Elevation change: +100 feet

Ski southwest, at first on either the marked trail or the re-aligned road and then on their combination for a total of 0.2 mile until you reach an obscure road junction (4). The junction is located approximately 100 feet before the sign indicating that you should turn right.

A great deal of change has occurred near the road junction since the trail was first marked in 1991. The trail sign marks where the trail used to turn onto Royal Gorge's Rainbow Interconnect Trail. They no longer groom that trail and it is now over-grown so it is preferable to turn at the actual road junction. However, that junction is partially over-grown and care is necessary to locate it.

In the "good-old days" you would be signaled that you had past the road junction when you encountered one of Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort's warming huts. It no longer exists.

Miles: 0.9 - 1.2
Elevation change: +150 feet

Turn southwest (right) onto the lesser road and climb for 0.3 mile until you reach a flat area (5) where the marked backcountry ski trail and the defunct Rainbow Interconnect Trail split. The defunct trail veers to the northwest (right) and the High Loch Leven Lake Trail veers to the southwest (left).

Miles: 1.2 - 1.9
Elevation change:
+250 feet

Leave the road and follow the marked trail southwest and then south for a total of 0.7 mile until you reach more open terrain (9). Waypoints 6, 7 and 8 in this section are provided as additional help in following the marked trail if you are using a GPS.

Image climbing in open area The terrain opens and the views abound

Miles: 1.9 - 2.1
Elevation change: +100 feet

Ski south up broad Matrimony Ridge for 0.2 mile until you reach Peak 7000 (10), the highest point on the ridge.

Miles: 2.1 - 4.2
Elevation change: -900 feet

Retrace the route for 2.1 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
Link to see and submit reviews and corrections about tour