Ballard Road

Fort Collins, Colorado (Larimer County)

Last Updated: 08/21/2020
4.4 / 5 ( 7 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Temporary Closure
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 4-4
( MODERATE )
Length: 7.7 miles
Highest Elevation: 10459 feet
Duration: About 2 hours, 10 minutes
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Fort Collins
Nearest Town w/ Services: Fort Collins
Official Road Name: 129
Management Agency: Roosevelt National Forest
District: Canyon Lakes Ranger District
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Ballard Road
Ballard Road is a year-round off-road trail that takes you through the beautiful Roosevelt National Forest and offers access to primitive camping and the Donner Pass, and one other, single track off-road trail. These single track trails are open to hiking, horses, mountain biking, and motorcycles. Ballard Road also has some historical presence along the trail, with remnants of old logging camp remains found throughout the route, but most of these camps have been reduced to just piles of lumber. In the winter months, Ballard Road is a perfect snow wheeling trail that doesn't get too much snow, but will always give you a challenge and is occasionally impassable. With everything from smooth grades to mild rock crawling and snow wheeling, Ballard Road is a great 4wd road for any outdoor and 4x4 enthusiast in the Northern Colorado area.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Ballard Road

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Lightly Modified 4X4 (Small Lift and Larger Tires)
Concerns:
Summary:
The last few waypoint obstacles are small but can still pose challenges for stock vehicles. This trail gets deep snow in the winter, modified vehicles needed.

Technical Rating: 4-4
( MODERATE )

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 18" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 18" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 36" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.
Read more about our rating system

Description

Ballard Road is a gravel road that is regularly maintained and passable by stock SUVs for the first half of the trail. The second half of the trail is more challenging with several rock obstacles and an off camber area. Only 4x4 off-road vehicles should continue past waypoint 5. Ballard Road travels through the Roosevelt National Forest with access to some primitive camping and access to single track trails. There are no gates at the entrance so this road is open all year but can be unpassable in winter months due to snow, but this is a very popular snow-wheeling trail in the winter
There is no cell service on this road and help is far away. Best traveled with 2 vehicles for safety.

Waypoints

1. Start Ballard Rd. ( mi)
Entrance to Ballard Road, this is unmarked and has no trespassing signs on both sides of the road. Those sign only apply to the property on either side of the road and not the road itself. Please be courteous and do not stop on the road here.
2. Entrance to East Greer Rd. (1.2 mi)
Right (west) Turn to East Greer Road, stay left (south) to continue on Ballard Road.
3. Donner Pass Hiking Trailhead (2.9 mi)
Parking/camping area for Donner Pass Trails head. The beginning of the trail is off of East Greer Road, this is an intersection with the trail that has ample room to park cars and trailers.
4. FR 129a (3.9 mi)
Left turn to FR 129a, stay right (north) to continue on Ballard Road.
5. New Road (4.3 mi)
A new section of road bypassing old obstacles on the trail. This was the most challenging part of the trail but, due to illegal go-arounds this area has been permanently closed. It was several large mud pits, one up to 4 foot deep at one time, and a section of washout that was very flexy. Let this be a reminder to always stay on the trail and, if you can't make it, turn back before creating new tracks.
6. Rocky Road (5.4 mi)
This is the beginning of the most challenging half of the trail. From this point forward high clearance and 4x4 will be required.
7. Rocky Climb (6 mi)
Little rock hill that could challenge stock vehicles.
8. Small Poser Rock (6.2 mi)
A small boulder that can be used to get some good pictures.
9. Rocky Climb 2 (6.5 mi)
Another rock hill that will challenge stock vehicles.
10. More Rocks (6.7 mi)
Another rock hill that will challenge stock vehicles.
11. Rock Garden (6.9 mi)
A small rock garden that is the most challenging part of the trail. The backside of this obstacle is off camber, so be sure to take caution while attempting.
12. End Ballard Rd. (7.7 mi)
The dead end of Ballard Road. There are a couple of established firepits for camping and enough room for a group to turn around. There is also a single track trail that continues on from here.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 40.571540, -105.449548

Starting Point: Loveland, CO

From Loveland Colorado, head west on Eisenhower Blvd. (Highway 34) to CR 27. Travel north on CR 27 for 5.2 miles to Masonville. At Masonville, the road will come to a tee, turn west onto Buckhorn Rd and continue to travel for 10.7 miles. Buckhorn Road forks here, stay left traveling west for another 10.2 miles until at the Ballard Road trailhead.

Camping

Dispersed
There are abundant primitive campsites throughout the trail that can accommodate tent camping. Only the Donner Pass intersection area is suitable for larger campers and trailers with room for about 5 campers. All campsites have an established fire pit, please use this same pits and leave the campsite in as good or better condition than when you showed up. As an outdoor enthusiast, it is your responsibility to take care of the places we all enjoy. For more information on camping in this area click the link below. Canyon Lakes Ranger District
Camping: Ballard Road

Trail Reviews (13)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
The Cameron Peak fire west of Fort Collins continues to grow prompting additional closures to the Roosevelt National Forest. The trail is affected by the Forest Closure Order effective 08-20-2020. Ongoing information about the fire, it’s progress, evacuations and closures can be found at Inciweb.gov website.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Completed in a JLUR with 35s and a 2.5" lift. Up until way point 8 is more or less just a bumpy dirt road that any stock SUV could complete. After that the difficulty gradually increases. In my opinion, the section of the trail from way point 8 and on could be considered a low end hard difficulty trail (5 rating). There was one section in particular that had my suspension fully flexed out. I wouldn't recommend trying the last 1/4 of this one with anything less than 33" tires and 2 inches of lift. At more than one spot it was hard to pick a 'perfect line' due to the trail being narrow. Subsequently there is some level of minimum clearance needed to avoid dragging your midsection over rocks. If you're able to make it to the top, the trail intersects with a foot trail up to Signal Mountain. The hike to the top is roughly 30-60 minutes depending on your fitness level and offers some spectacular views that make the drive well worth it.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We made it about 3/4 of the way up. We have a Toyota 4Runner I'm currently building up. I have extra weight added and my lift hasn't shipped yet. We were riding about 1" lower than stock height. 3/4 the way up, our skids starting taking some hard hits so we turned around. I will be back....

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The hill for WP6 is snow-rutted and draining heavily right now. We drove about 1000yds from the last junction, made a short walk up the trail and decided to turn around and avoid getting stuck and damaging the trail. The last picture was just west of the junction that turns back towards Greer; conditions deteriorate from here.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Please be careful of ice in this area! There is a lot of ice under the snow. We made it to the rocky climb section near WP7 and got half way up the hill before realizing that it has about 2" of solid ice under the snow. My brother slid uncontrollably backwards down that hill after losing momentum on the way up. We turned around and slid down the hill. I think it is worth checking the conditions of any hills you go down in this area to make sure you'll be able to make it back up them and out. OTHERWISE, the trail was a lot of fun with snow on it. No trees or anything else blocking the trail at all. See the pictures below for more info. Go have fun, but go prepared with appropriate gear for the trail conditions as well as in case you have an emergency or get stuck.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Went to the top of Ballard on 9/4/2019 on our ATV's. The bottom section for about the first 2/3's was just dirt trail, the top section was pretty rough, some water running down the midsection of the trail even though we hadn't had rain in over a week. Hard to tell by the posted pictures because the pictures never do the trails justice but it was rough, probably easier on the ATV because we can pick more routes through the rocks. This picture wasn't the worse area, but the only place I stopped to take a picture.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
It has been a while since I have run Old Ballard. We meet in Masonville at 9:00 am and headed out directly to the trailhead. We took off on RD. 129A to explore before we continued on the trail. The trails about mid way up has water running down it and a few snowdrifts and heavy iced areas. We winched a tree off the trail between waypoints 9 and 10 that combined with the uphill ice shelf would throw the Jeeps into it's branches. Traveling up further we had another drift that was a battle but due to the lateness of the day, we just decided to turn around and leave the top end for next time. We did do a few other spur trails (old logging roads) that are getting very grown in which makes the trail very narrow for jeeps at times. Use care on those roads as there is little opportunity for turning around and they are narrow. No pics or video to add. The day was partly cloudy and a bit cool but over all weather was great.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I've been up to Ballard Rd many times over the couple years, and it's one of my favorite trails. This trail isn't crazy, but I would personally rate the top part as difficult. Two years ago I did not make it to the top with a stock Offroad Tacoma, and found myself having to reverse for a long ways. Even with a 3 inch lift and 33 inch tires, the trail was a challenge. I was close to bottoming out in several spots. There was a rock centered in the trail where I hung my diff up pretty squarely with 33" tires. I had to pick a slightly different line, and made it fine, but I could imagine with stock tires this part would be pretty tough. I would also rate this difficult because if you don't have the right vehicle, you can easily get yourself into trouble. This is a single track trail where a different line means sometimes you only have less than a foot left and right to adjust. If you cannot make it up, it is a very long and technical reverse. I failed on my first two attempts, once stock, and once snow wheeling. This is a fun and unique trail with a couple fun spurs to explore. In the video I miss a tree by an inch or so.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The entrance to this trail is very easy to drive past. There are no USFS road markers for this on CR 44H and the no trespassing signs on either side falsely give the impression that this is a private road. I encountered snow between waypoints 5 and 6 but they were rutted out from other users so it wasn't an issue.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Last time on Ballard was 2 years ago and it seems more Lois and bouldery now. Erosion and traffic tacking it’s toll. My rig is a LC locked on 6” lift and 35” tires and one area got bumped onto a boulder and had to back up and take a different line. Enjoyed the day honestly but concert about the degradation on trail. Will see if can organize a maintenance day and get a crew together to address the state of the road. Bummed that evertime I go up I’ve picked up trash from other people and put out hot camp fires that aren’t fully made safe.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Fun afternoon on the trail until we had to turn around just after FR 129a due to a broken down Subaru that had been left blocking the trail with a note saying they would be back. Trail was pretty wet from all the snow melt and as the trail climbed there was a bit more snow, it was pretty slushy.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Went to Ballard Road for the day with another member of the Fort Collins local 4x4 club, The Mountaineers. We made it back to waypoint 3 at the Donner Pass trail head and was halted by continuous deep snow drifts. It was fairly challenging breaking the trail up to this point but we made it passable with chains on all 4 tires and locked axles. Overall it was a great day!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
There had been a little snow already, and we got more snow today. Trail is in great shape with a bit of snow after a few miles into the trail. I camped up there from Friday to Sunday, and only saw a single jeep the entire weekend.

Questions & Answers (5)

Q: Anyone know if this trail was burned by the fire? Went up early season camping there last year and had a blast. Been wondering all year if it survived.
–Sean (04/15/2021)
A: Hi Sean, we will need to get up there to give a full assessment. The trail is closed per the Canyon Lakes Ranger District. According to this map (https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/photos/COARF/2020-09-20-1235-Cameron-Peak-PostFire-BAER/picts/2020_11_19-12.07.00.408-CST.pdf), parts of the trail definitely got some moderate burn severity. This summer will be pretty interesting for Northern Colorado, but we will update our guides as soon as we know more.
–John (04/15/2021)
Q: Can a Tundra with a 3inch lift, full skids, and off-road mods make it up? Also thinking about camping off this road. Do any of the camp spots have pull ins for the truck?
–Sean (05/27/2020)
A: There are a couple campsites you van pull in with the truck. More so than at the beginning of the trail. That back section will definitely be difficult in as full size pickup. I would to expect to do some spotting, scrape the under belly/rocker panels, and possible pin striping. The back end of the trail is the most challenging and has gotten more difficult over the last few years. If you do make it back there you will be rewarded with a very private and nice camp spot. Happy trails and be safe you there.
–Bradley & Rhea Mikkelson (05/29/2020)
Q: Does anyone know if you can connect to pennacock pass trail down f.r. 407 from between waypoints 5&6?
–James m myers (11/04/2019)
A: No. Greer Road would cut over, but it blocked by private land.
–Charlie Crusan (05/12/2020)
A: Pennock pass I mean
–James m myers (11/04/2019)
Q: Anybody been up lately? Curious about if they still have a little bit of a snow pack.
–Gunnar Campbell (05/26/2019)
A: I was up the trail a week ago and, yes, there were still some snow issues on the trail. I suspect that it will stay muddy with snow lingering in the shadows for another few weeks.for a while yet
–Tim Palmer (05/27/2019)
Q: Interested in taking this trail this summer to the end where we can then hike to signal mountain. Is it too much for a stock JKU sport with 32 inch BFG all terrain tires (but no lift, no lockers, etc.)?
–Nick Coult (03/19/2017)
A: I would say a stock JKU would do just fine on this trail. Might need some spotting on waypoints 8 and 11 but as long as you pick a good line you will be fine. Have fun and happy trails!!!
–Bradley & Rhea Mikkelson (03/20/2017)

Writer Information

Bradley & Rhea Mikkelson

Mapping Crew - Colorado and South Dakota

Bradley and Rhea are currently living in the quaint little town of Fairburn, South Dakota with their two daughters, Riley and Dakota, and their dog Nyx. Bradley was raised in Northern Colorado, while Rhea was raised in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Growing up in these environments, the mountains are where they like to spend their free time. Since meeting in July 2011, they have been fishing, camping, and wheeling together ever since. For the Mikkelson family, owning a Jeep is essential to the mountaineering lifestyle. They currently have three Jeeps, a built 1995 Jeep Cherokee, A mildly built 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and a bone-stock 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee. As a volunteer wildland firefighter, TrailsOffroad mapping crew and avid nature lovers, the Mikkelson's strongly encourage responsible trail usage, respect for our forests, always stay the trail, pack out what you pack in, and enjoy the adventure!
For individual use only, not to be shared.