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Colorado Trail Bikepacking Companion Guide

I’m obsessed with the Colorado Trail (CT). Period. My girlfriend and I rode it unsupported during the summer of 2018 and it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was such an impactful experience that coming back to real life after the CT was challenging. If riding the trail is something you’ve been wanting to do, you should absolutely make the time to do it. And if you can’t make it out this year, you can always throw the CT Foundation some cash so the trail will be there when you are ready to do it.

In looking a a map or hiking guide, it’s difficult to get a good feel about how a given section of the CT will be on a bike. The normal metrics of distance and elevation gain are often betrayed by difficult trail conditions that are readily hikeable, but hardly bikeable. This manifests itself in seemingly equal segments in terms of mileage and elevation gain being vastly different in terrain and the amount of time it takes to cover those segments. This CT Bikepacking Companion seeks to provide a bit more info for the biker to better plan for a CT adventure. All basic info (i.e. segment number/name, mileage, elevation gain, etc.) come from the Colorado Trail Databook, 7th edition.

This CT Bikepacking Companion is meant to be used with the CT Databook, so get a CT Databook to read along and plan with alongside the Companion.

For each segment the following info is provided:

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Page number for referencing the databook

  • Distance: Total miles covered in the section

  • SOBO Elevation gain: Total elevation gained (in feet) in the section headed towards Durango, estimated for partial segments

  • SOBO Elevation loss: Total elevation lost (in feet) in the section headed towards Durango, estimated for partial segments

  • Fun factor: Overall level of fun for a biker, 1 is least fun and 4 is most fun

  • Hike-a-bike factor: Overall amount of hike-a-bike, 1 is least hike-a-bike and 4 is most hike-a-bike (expect segments with level 3 and 4 hike-a-bike ratings to take significantly longer than other sections of similar distance and elevation gain)

  • Detail: More detailed description of the trail segment

A few of notes:

  1. I am continually working on adding more info to this CT Bikepacking Companion. Eventually it will be a comprehensive resource. Until it’s complete, if you need additional info, check out my Colorado Trail Thru Bike blog post to see if it has the information you’re looking for.

  2. The route described below skips much of Segment 15 and opts to go up Monarch Pass via Route 50 in order to pick up the very fun Monarch Crest Trail. I highly recommend this detour!

  3. Videos from the first 7 segments are a bit lacking as I didn’t know what I was doing and was messing around with the GoPro settings and camera position too much. Sorry. Videos from segment 8 onward are pretty solid.

Segment 1: Waterton Canyon TH to South Platte River TH

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 10 to 11

  • Distance: 16.8 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 2,830 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 2,239 feet

  • Fun Factor: 2

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 2

Detail

Between the dirt road through Waterton Canyon and average singletrack, Segment 1 is pretty tame. YOu start on Waterton Canyon’s smooth dirt road and then transition to fairly smooth singletrack for the first 9 miles or so. There is a little hike-a-bike portion after Bear Creek. From mile 10 to the end is a bit more raw, and the most fun part of Segment 1, with generally smooth single track featuring some rocky sections.

  • 0.0 to 6.7: Waterton Canyon section consists of a very smooth dirt road that gradually heads uphill

  • 6.7 to 8.7: Generally smooth singletrack

  • 8.7 to 9.8: This next portion after crossing Bear Creek has some hike-a-bike because of steepness, loose rock, and large rocks

  • 9.8 to 12.3: Gradual uphill climb on generally smooth singletrack

  • 12.3 to 16.8: Generally smooth singletrack on downhill, most fun portion of the segment

 Looking west into Segment 2 across the Platte River valley, near mile 12.6 of Segment 1

Looking west into Segment 2 across the Platte River valley, near mile 12.6 of Segment 1

Segment 2: South Platte River TH to Little Scraggy TH

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 12 to 13

  • Mileage: 11.5 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 2,482 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 753 feet

  • Fun factor: 2

  • Hike-a-bike factor: 2

Detail

Segment 2 is pretty much all singletrack, much of it fairly sandy and exposed, terrain is a lot like Buffalo Creek. It can be challenging on a hot, sunny day because there is little tree cover for the first 2 to 3 miles. While there is nowhere that you'll absolutely have to hike-a-bike, you may find the first rocky portion (150 feet or so) after the creek challenging because of looseness; switchbacks during the first mile are also difficult to clear on a fully loaded bike; and the steep, sandy sections between mile 1 and 3 can be challenging, too. Riding becomes fun again after crossing Raleigh Peak road at mile 6.

  • 0.0 to 0.1: trail over bridge and along creek are smooth and flat, just watch out for other trail users

  • 0.1 to 1.1: Switchbacks up to the top can be tight and steep at times; these can be difficult to clear on a fully loaded bike

  • 1.1 to 2.5: Smooth singletrack can be sandy, steep, and loose at times; you may find yourself walking portions of this; this whole portion is exposed and can get hot in the sun

  • 2.5 to 6.0: Smooth singletrack (loose at times) heads into the trees and continues to climb to Raleigh Peak Road

  • 6.0 to 10.1: Smooth, rolly singletrack, very rideable; most fun portion of the segment

  • 10.1 to 11.5: Smooth doubletrack road from the paved road to Little Scraggy TH parking lot

 Pumping water from the South Platte River before heading uphill, mile 0.0 of Segment 2

Pumping water from the South Platte River before heading uphill, mile 0.0 of Segment 2

Segment 3: Little Scraggy TH to Rolling Creek TH

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 14 to 15

  • Mileage: 12.2 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 1,975 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 1,549 feet

  • Fun factor: 3

  • Hike-a-bike factor: 1

Detail

Segment 3 is a ride through Buffalo Creek. It is generally fun with good flow. After all, it is maintained by and for mountain bikers. The only part that is less fun is the leg from the Redskin Creek Trail at mile 8.3 to the end at mile 12.2 as it is sandy and not very interesting. There is no real hike-a-bike on this segment.

  • 0.0 to 8.3: Smooth, fast singletrack (sandy at times) with good flow

  • 8.3 to 12.2: Smooth single track, but a bit more loose and sandy; not as fun as the first portion of the segment

 First campsite of our trip in Buffalo Creek, near mile 3.0 of Segment 3

First campsite of our trip in Buffalo Creek, near mile 3.0 of Segment 3

Detour 1: Lost Creek Wilderness Detour

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 78 to 79

  • Mileage: 71.6 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 8,344 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 6,887 feet

  • Fun factor: 1

  • Hike-a-bike factor: 1

Detail

To the uninitiated Detour 1 is "just a road" when you look at the map and the CT Databook. Unfortunately, it is more than just a road as the first 36 miles climbs about 5,000 feet. The going is fairly easy for the first 13 to 14 miles; be sure to stop at Wellington Lake for a moment. However, after turning onto FS-211 at mile 13.6, it gets more difficult. The steep, sawtooth profile of the road along with its exposure in the Hayman burn scar make it almost brutal at times. The road is also fairly sandy and washboarded out, so the riding is not smooth. The dirt road portion is over at mile 35.9 and the paved portion is very nice after the dirt section. If you're hungry, thirsty, and/or want ice cream, make sure you duck into the Stagestop Store and Saloon just before the end of the paved section at mile 63.0. Note, there are no stores in Tarryall (or anything at all) and I never saw the Outpost Wilderness Adventure Camp mentioned in the CT Databook at mile 49.4. Once you turn off the paved road, you're back on dirt, but this time it is much more enjoyable and less exposed. Pick up the CT again at mile 71.6 of the detour.

  • 0.0 to 2.8: Smooth, rolling dirt road until Wellington Lake

  • 2.8 to 13.6: Some fairly steep climbing followed by downhills on a good (but not completely smooth)dirt road; shaded until mile 8.1

  • 13.6 to 35.6: Steep climbs followed by downhills gradually take you up in elevation; road is sandy and washboarded in many parts; road is very exposed as it travels through the Hayman burn scar; last mile or two of this portion is more shaded with a nicer road surface

  • 35.6 to 63.0: Nice, paved road usually climbs gradually; not much of a shoulder, but there is very little traffic

  • 63.0 to 71.6: Nicer dirt roads with minimal washboarding and more trees compared to the first portion of the segment

 This photo sums up this section: rolling, sometimes steep fire road in a treeless burn scar

This photo sums up this section: rolling, sometimes steep fire road in a treeless burn scar

Segment 5 (partial): Rock Creek TH to Kenosha Pass

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 18 to 19

  • Distance: 6.6 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 1,000 feet (estimate)

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 600 feet (estimate)

  • Fun factor: 2

  • Hike-a-bike factor: 1

Detail

For bikers, Segment 5 starts at mile 8.0 of the segment. Initially the riding is a little loose and sandy with some steep, punchy climbs. The trail then becomes less sandy and more packed featuring roots and rocks. As the trail comes to Kenosha pass, it becomes smoother and winds through a beautiful aspen forest. The last four miles of this segment are pretty fun to ride.

  • 8.0 to 10.6: Sandy trail conditions with some rocks

  • 10.6 to 14.4: Packed trail with some roots and rocks finishing with a smoother trail and beautiful aspen trees

  • 14.4 to 14.6: Dirt road leading from singletrack to Route 285 intersection

 Back on the actual CT after the Lost Creek Wilderness detour

Back on the actual CT after the Lost Creek Wilderness detour

Segment 6: Kenosha Pass to Gold Hill TH

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 20 to 23

  • Distance: 32.7 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 5,196 feet

  • SOBO Elevation: 5,986 feet

  • Fun factor: 4

  • Hike-a-bike factor: 2

Detail

Segment 6 is one of the most fun segments of the trail and, from a rider's perspective, probably the most fun segment near the Front Range. It starts from Kenosha Pass through a rooty aspen forest. The trail becomes smoother with more rocky technical sections interspersed as it descends and rolls through a gorgeous aspen forest on its way to Jefferson Creek. After Jefferson Creek, the technical trail climbs steeply (but not too steeply) through a pine forest towards Georgia Pass. As the trail approaches Georgia Pass, it flattens out and becomes smoother. Once above tree line, the trail is generally smooth, but somewhat rutted out in places. The view from Georgia Pass is stunning. Descending from Georgia Pass is fast and flowy at first, but becomes rockier with less flow as it approaches the bottom of the hill. A mile or two of rolling trail leads to a steep, punchy climb that may require you to hike your fully loaded bike, despite not being very technical. An awesome descent awaits after a brief flat section. Enjoy the sweet descent as you will need to climb a bit more towards the end of the section. After this last bit of climbing, you'll travel on a generally descending trail towards Route 9 with bike path access to Frisco and Breckenridge.

  • 0.0 to 1.5: Rooty trail climbs through aspen forest

  • 1.5 to 3.1: Trail becomes smoother and more flowy as it descends to creek

  • 3.1 to 5.9: Trail becomes even more fun as it rolls and twists through a beautiful aspen forest; mid-summer conditions here with wildflowers are awesome

  • 5.9 to 9.1: Trail becomes more rooty and rocky as it climbs to Georgia pass; most of this is rideable with no required hike-a-bike

  • 9.1 to 12.3: Trail becomes smoother and less steep as it approaches Georgia Pass; view from Georgia Pass is incredible

  • 12.3 to 17.1: Trail descends through forest; first part is smooth with good flow then becomes much rockier with switchbacks

  • 17.1 to 19.7: Generally smooth trail rolls through forest, some rocky and rooty sections

  • 19.7 to 22.2: Trail remains smooth, but climbs steeply; hike-a-bike may be necessary to get your loaded bike up some of the steeper sections

  • 22.2 to 23.8: Generally smooth, but sometimes loose, trail rolls along ridge

  • 23.8 to 27.5: Trail descends quickly, starting with technical switchbacks and ending smooth and flowy; very fun section

  • 27.5 to 29.7: Trail continues a little further downhill and then begins to climb a generally smooth trail; some parts are steep and challenging, wooden water bars near mile 29 make it more challenging

  • 29.7 to 32.7: Smooth trail descends to Route 9

 Riding up to the Segment 6 high point at Georgia Pass, near mile 12.0

Riding up to the Segment 6 high point at Georgia Pass, near mile 12.0

Segment 7: Gold Hill TH to Copper Mountain

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 24 to 25

  • Distance: 13.2 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 3,674 feet

  • SOBO Elevation: 3,053 feet

  • Fun factor: 4

  • Hike-a-bike factor: 3

Detail

Segment 7 is the first real hike-a-bike section of the CT. The trail begins with a steady climb on generally smooth dirt with some rooty, rocky, and loose sections mixed in. There is a short, gradual downhill on mostly smooth singletrack before the trail starts getting steeper and looser. After mile 5, the hike-a-bike begins with a very steep section close to the 6 mile mark. After this very steep section, you are now in alpine terrain at about 11,000 feet. If you have the lungs for it, the trail is generally rideable with a few technical and off-camber sections that may likely get you off your bike. Crest the ridge at the 8.4 mile mark. From here, begin a ripper descent. The first mile or two is a rocky, loose, and exposed. It also induces a bit of vertigo until you drop below treeline again. Take your time on this part as the real ripper downhill awaits below treeline. Enjoy a fast, flowy 3 mile downhill with a few technical sections thrown in. The dirt is really nice!

  • 0.0 to 2.4: Gradual uphill on generally good terrain, all rideable with a few rooty, rocky, and loose sections

  • 2.4 to 4.4: Short downhill on similar terrain to what you’ve been riding

  • 4.4 to 5.2: Gradual uphill still on rideable terrain

  • 5.2 to 6.1: The trail gets steeper and looser here with plenty of opportunities to get off your bike, ending in a very steep hike-a-bike section

  • 6.1 to 8.4: Alpine terrain on generally smooth trail with a few large rocks and off-camber sections mixed in that will likely require a hike-a-bike

  • 8.4 to 10.3: Somewhat loose, rocky, and exposed section of vertigo-inducing trail until you drop below treeline

  • 10.3 to 13.2: Ripper downhill with a few technical sections on great dirt, enjoy

 Some sleet and hail on the last hill up to the ridge near mile 8.0 on Segment 7

Some sleet and hail on the last hill up to the ridge near mile 8.0 on Segment 7

Segment 8: Copper Mountain to Tennessee Pass

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 26 to 27

  • Distance: 25.4 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 4,417 feet

  • SOBO Elevation: 3,810 feet

  • Fun factor: 4

  • Hike-a-bike factor: 2

Detail

The first 17 miles of Segment 8 are some of the best on the CT. Climbing the plush trails around Copper Mountain is enjoyable. Make sure you stop in Copper to get some food, beer, coffee, or whatever else. (Except no one has milkshakes; there’s ice cream and smoothies, but no milkshakes, so don’t think about them.) The plush trails immediately out of Copper give way to steeper but still excellent trails on the way up to Searle Pass. Stop and look around while you’re at Searle. From Searle to Kokomo is another great part of the trail; flowy high alpine. Once you’re at Kokomo Pass, you’ve got a ripper downhill to Camp Hale. From Camp Hale to Tennessee Pass, the trail is less interesting, but still very rideable. Once you’re at Tennesee Pass you can start thinking about milkshakes again as you prepare for the road detour though Leadville.

  • 0.0 to 1.6: Rolling flowy trails on excellent dirt lead you into Copper Mountain; get some food and beer while you’re here

  • 1.6 to 5.2: Gradual climb on plush singetrack similar to what you rode during the first 1.6 miles

  • 5.2 to 8.7: Steeper terrain with roots and rocks, still nice trail and generally rideable

  • 8.7 to 9.7: Now above treeline, the trail gets a bit rockier but still mostly rideable, hike-a-bike on rocky sections during the last quarter mile

  • 9.7 to 12.9: Fun, flowy, rolling trail above treeline, all rideable; excellent views

  • 12.9 to 17.1: Fun, ripper downhill; stop at Cataract falls for a bit to eat

  • 17.1 to 19.2: Flatish area around Camp Hale, pretty good trail

  • 19.2 to 22.1: Trail begins to climb again, drier terrain with some loose sections, all still rideable

  • 22.1 to 25.4: A flat section gives way to steeper trail and finally to doubletrack, good trail conditions, although not that interesting

 Sweet rolly alpine section between Searle Pass and Kokomo Pass (mile 9.7 to 12.9) on Segment 8

Sweet rolly alpine section between Searle Pass and Kokomo Pass (mile 9.7 to 12.9) on Segment 8

Segment 9 (partial): Tennessee Pass to Wurtz Ditch Road

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 28 to 29

  • Distance: 2.8 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 200 feet (estimate)

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 200 feet (estimate)

  • Fun Factor: 1

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 1

Detail

This is a short section of riding on Segment 9 before the Holy Cross/Mount Massive Wilderness Detour. The trail is generally smooth and wide. Start thinking about what you’re going to eat when you get to Leadville in about 10 miles of road riding!

  • 0.0 to 2.8: Smooth, wide, rolling singletrack

Detour 2: Holy Cross/Mount Massive Wilderness Detour

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 80 to 81

  • Distance: 21.5 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 1,301 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 1,724 feet

  • Fun Factor: 1

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 1

Detail

This detour takes you through Leadville and ends at the Mount Massive TH on Halfmoon Creek Road; there’s lots of good dispersed camping along Halfmoon Creek Road. Begin with a 3 mile descent down from Tennessee pass on pavement. Ride flat for the next few miles and then climb up to Leadville. Be sure to grab some food and beer on your way through. Grab a beer to go if you plan on camping at Halfmoon Creek. From Leadville, quickly descend 4 miles on shoulderless Route 24. Do some paved road route finding over the next 2 miles on flat roads to get to Halfmoon Creek Road. Set up camp and crack that beer you bought in town!

  • 0.0 to 3.0: Descend from Tennessee Pass on paved road

  • 3.0 to 7.0: Ride on flat pavement

  • 7.0 to 8.5: Climb up to Leadville on pavement

  • 8.5 to 10.0: Ride through Leadville

  • 10.0 to 14.0: Descend out of Leadville, be careful with traffic on the shoulderless road

  • 14.0 to 16.0: Find your way to Halfmoon Creek Road on a number of paved county roads

  • 16.0 to 21.5: Ascend easily and gradually to the Mount Massive TH along dirt Halfmoon Creek Road

 Nice campsites abound on Halfmoon Creek Road near the end of the detour

Nice campsites abound on Halfmoon Creek Road near the end of the detour

Segment 11: Mount Massive TH to Clear Creek Road

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 32 to 33

  • Distance: 21.5 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 2,910 feet

  • SOBO Elevation: 4,042 feet

  • Fun factor: 4

  • Hike-a-bike factor: 2

Detail

This is a sneaky fun segment of the CT for bikers. It has a little bit of everything, but not too much of anything. There are many aspen groves mixed in with the pine forest during this section. Start on drier, rockier soil as you climb up towards Mount Elbert. Then enjoy a few miles of wide, rolling singletrack. Descend down into the Twin Lakes area on another fun, flowy downhill beginning in aspen and ending in Ponserosa pine. Ride around the beautiful Twin Lakes and then head back uphill on the other side for more flowy singletrack. There is a bit of an uphill slog towards the end along a powerline doubletrack. After you reach the top here, you’ve got a beautiful (and pretty fun) downhill to finish Segment 11 at Clear Creek Road.

  • 0.0 to 1.3: Some wide rolling singletrack to start an then a rocky uphill that is steep in places, but mostly rideable

  • 1.3 to 5.4: Rolling singletrack through pine and aspen forest, fun section with a few small climbs and descents

  • 5.4 to 7.1: Descend fun downhill to Twin Lakes area, lots of aspen trees and Ponderosa pines

  • 7.1 to 12.2: Ride around the east side of Twin Lakes on flat, sandy trails

  • 12.2 to 13.7: Continue along shoreline on wide singletrack above Twin Lakes

  • 13.7 to 14.6: Steady climb on generally smooth singletrack, this climb is gratifying on a fully loaded bike

  • 14.6 to 15.0: Do some route finding along some sandy fire roads

  • 15.0 to 17.4: Fun, flowy singletrack along this rolling section, the pine forest turns to aspen grove in places

  • 17.4 to 19.8: Generally smooth singletrack and then doubletrack descent and then climb

  • 19.8 to 21.5: Enjoy a scenic downhill along some tight switchbacks as you descend to Clear Creek Reservoir

 The CT goes around Twin Lakes, awesome views abound

The CT goes around Twin Lakes, awesome views abound

Road Detour 3: Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Detour

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 82 to 83

  • Distance: 28.3 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 2,121 feet

  • SOBO Elevation: 1,699 feet

  • Fun factor: 1

  • Hike-a-bike factor: 1

Detail

This detour is almost entirely downhill, usually with good shoulders all the way into Buena Vista. Which is nice, because Buena Vista is a great place to hang out. Be sure to stop in Deerhammer and get a cocktail. Tasty food also abounds. From Buena Vista, the climb out is not as bad as it looks in the CT Databook as you have about 10 miles to climb 2,000 feet.

  • 0.0 to 3.0: Ride the dirt road out to Route 24

  • 3.0 to 18.9: Gradually descend into Buena Vista on paved Route 24 with nice shoulders

  • 18.9 to 28.3: Climb up Route 306 out of Buena Vista to pick up the CT (the lower portion of 306 was under construction in 2018)

 Don’t forget to stop at Deerhammer Distillery in Buena Vista for drinks

Don’t forget to stop at Deerhammer Distillery in Buena Vista for drinks

Segment 13 (partial): Route 306 to Chalk Creek TH

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 36 to 37

  • Distance: 16.2 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 1,600 feet (estimate)

  • SOBO Elevation: 2,300 feet (estimate)

  • Fun factor: 1

  • Hike-a-bike factor: 3

Detail

Segment 13 is not one of my favorites. It starts off annoyingly tough and ends on roads, so it’s just not that inspiring. It begins on loose rocky soil with lots of horse poop mixed in (there’s a horse trail guiding service that operates nearby and doesn’t seem at all concerned by the vast quantity of horse droppings that litter the trail here). The first two-plus mile climb up involves a lot of hike-a-bike because of the loose soil and baby head rocks. Once you gain the contour at the top of the ridge, the going gets much better as you’re riding on smooth singletrack that loose in exposed sections and generally nice in forested sections. Begin descending down to Mount Princeton Hot Springs first on singletrack, then on doubletrack and finally on paved road. Be sure to stop in the Princeton Market for supplies. Supplies are somewhat limited here, but the do have snacks and beer. Boogie out of Mount Princeton Hot Springs and ride along generally flat and paved/gravel road to Chalk Creek TH.

  • 6.6 to 9.0: Rolling downhill on not great singletrack, rocky and loose

  • 9.0 to 11.6: Uphill on loose, rocky, and horse-poopy trail, plenty of hike-a-bike here

  • 11.6 to 17.1: Generally good, smooth singletrack rolls along the contour and then drops you onto Mount Princeton Road

  • 17.1 to 18.2: Descend the rutted dirt (but sometimes fun!) Mount Princeton Road

  • 18.2 to 20.3: Continue your descent on paved roads into Mount Princeton Hot Springs, stop at the store for snacks and beer

  • 20.3 to 22.8: Continue on paved and gravel roads to Chalk Creek TH

 After the initial loose and rocky uphill, Segment 13 follows a contour to the Mount Princeton fire road

After the initial loose and rocky uphill, Segment 13 follows a contour to the Mount Princeton fire road

Segment 14: Chalk Creek TH to Route 50

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 38 to 39

  • Distance: 20.4 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 4,007 feet

  • SOBO Elevation: 3,531 feet

  • Fun factor: 2

  • Hike-a-bike factor: 3

Detail

Segment 14 covers a lot of different terrain and is surprisingly tough. It starts on footpaths around the Chalk Creek TH and quickly becomes a hike-a-bike. There is a mile-long, 800 foot climb that goes up a loose, very rocky slope. Some of the trail at the bottom is rideable, but as you ascend, the rocks get bigger and completely unrideable. After you top out, you’ll find yourself on relatively smooth, rolling singletrack, all consistently rideable. Near mile 5 you begin to climb again. The trail becomes steadily more rocky and consistently technical. Most of these rockier sections are rideable, but this section does get exhausting on a loaded bike. The rocky terrain and generally uphill profile continue until a little after mile 8. The Trail becomes a smoother here with some very fun sections and nice aspen stands mixed in. A steady, but fairly smooth climb begins around mile 10.5 to take you up to Segment 14’s high point; there are some short, steep, and rocky hike-a-bike sections mixed in here. Get up to the high point and enjoy a nice, fun rolling ride for the next 3 or 4 miles. After this rolling section, you’ll descend quickly to the North Fork of the Arkansas River. This descent starts dry and rolling and ends on rockier, technical terrain. Hang out by the footbridge over the Arkansas and prepare for the climb out. This climb struck me as very weird; I’m not sure what it is about it, but it is strangely painful for its lack of elevation gain. I think much of this pain is a result of perfectly spaced rocks that get you off your bike on sections that look very rideable. Some of these sections are also fairly exposed. Once you’re past the rocky part of the climb, the trail still ascends, but at a more mellow grade and without all the rocks. Once you get to the top of this section, you’ll enjoy smooth rolling trail with minimal technical sections and a generally downhill grade. This flat, rolling section ends at a large power line pylon and a fast descent begins down to Route 50. This descent starts on douvle track and ends on single track. It’s pretty smooth, but dry and loose in many places. From here you’ve got to decide to go up Segment 15 or climb Route 50 (my recommendation!) up to Monarch Crest.

  • 0.0 to 0.4: Footpaths around Chalk Creek TH, some parts are steep and rocky

  • 0.4 to 1.4: Hike-a-bike up this very steep, very rocky section

  • 1.4 to 4.5: Smooth, rolling trail goes through dry pine forest

  • 4.5 to 6.1: Trail begins to climb and get rockier, rocky sections are persistent and exhausting whether on bike or off

  • 6.1 to 8.0: Exhausting rocky section continues although trail grade mellows out while still ascending

  • 8.0 to 10.5: Trail starts descending and gets much smoother with some very fun sections, but still some short, steep hike-a-bike sections

  • 10.5 to 11.5: Trail climbs up, but is generally rideable with some of the same short, steep hike-a-bike sections as the last section

  • 11.5 to 14.0: Fun, smooth, and rolling trail descends slowly

  • 14.0 to 15.2: Downhill gets much steeper and faster starting smooth and dry and ending rocky and technical

  • 15.2 to 16.7: Begin climbing with rocky, technical sections for the first mile that will get you off your bike, then the trail smooths out

  • 16.7 to 19.8: Smooth, rolling trail generally descends, but some punchy climbs mixed in

  • 19.8 to 20.4: Fast descent on loose, dry trail, doubletrack start, singletrack end

 Segment 14 looking across to the Chalk Cliffs around mile 1.4 at the top of the hike-a-bike

Segment 14 looking across to the Chalk Cliffs around mile 1.4 at the top of the hike-a-bike

Road Detour 4: Route 50 to Monarch Pass

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): N/A

  • Distance: 8.3 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 2,470 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 0 feet

  • Fun Factor: 1

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 1

Detail

This is just a slog up to Monarch Pass on Route 50. But it’s well worth it to ride the Monarch Crest Trail. Plus, the next time you’re headed from Denver to Gunnison with your friends, you can also tell them: “I rode up this thing!” Be careful of traffic on the road, it moves fast. There is often a shoulder, but sometimes there is not; the shoulder is most often lacking on the tightest sections of the road. Don’t forget to get some chips, soda, ice cream, and other delicious junk food at the Monarch Crest store. Unfortunately, they do not sell beer.

  • 0.0 to 8.4: Climb up on paved road, often with little shoulder

 Monarch Crest store, the highlight of this uphill road segment

Monarch Crest store, the highlight of this uphill road segment

CT West Segment 5 (partial): Monarch Pass to Fooses Creek Trail Intersection

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 76 to 77

  • Distance: 4.9 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 900 feet (estimate)

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 100 feet (estimate)

  • Fun Factor: 4

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 1

Detail

The end of CT West Segment 5 (where you pick it up from Monarch Pass) is the first section of the much loved Monarch Crest Trail. It’s a beautiful piece of singletrack that is typically smooth and flowy with the requisite rocky, technical sections mixed in. This section of the trail is generally uphill over rolling terrain; steeper at the beginning and nearly flat towards the end. All extremely rideable.

  • 10.8 to 12.3: Fire road and doubletrack up to the singletrack

  • 12.3 to 15.7: Sweet, sweet singletrack, enjoy!

 A lot of this kind of stuff

A lot of this kind of stuff

Segment 15 (partial): Fooses Creek Trail Intersection to Marshall Pass TH

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 40 to 41

  • Distance: 5.7 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 500 feet (estimate)

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 1,600 feet (estimate)

  • Fun Factor: 4

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 1

Detail

The good riding from the previous segment continues here. Continue to enjoy. This segment trends downhill and finishes on a jeep road down to Marshall Pass TH.

  • 8.6 to 12.8: Still sweet, sweet singletrack, the riding on this segment is arguably better than the last

  • 12.8 to 14.0: Descend jeep road to Marshall Pass TH parking lot and camping areas

  • 14.0 to 14.3: Ride through Marshall Pass TH area

 More Monarch Crest scenery

More Monarch Crest scenery

Segment 16: Marshall Pass TH to Sargents Mesa

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 42 to 43

  • Distance: 15.2 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 3,184 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 2,405 feet

  • Fun Factor: 2

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 3

Detail

Segment 16 starts off as a continuation of the Monarch Crest Trail for the first 4 miles. Consequently, the trail is smooth and flowy for the first 4 miles. However, the trail gets chossy and challenging after this point and remains so for the next 8 miles; there is a brief smooth section near the beginning of this section to look forward to. And the last 3 to 4 miles of the trail are pretty smooth (with a little choss thrown in) for the steady climb up to Sargents Mesa.

  • 0.0 to 4.1: Smooth, rolling trail continues

  • 4.1 to 5.2: Chossy jeep roads and deeply rutted moto tracks go gradually uphill at first and are very challenging to ride consistently, smoother single track later on

  • 5.2 to 7.1: Challenging downhill with some really large rocks and awkward small rocks, you may likely have to hike-a-bike downhill (which is extremely frustrating)

  • 7.1 to 11.6: Rolling, rocky singletrack and moto track, there are a lot of short hike-a-bike sections through here

  • 11.6 to 15.2: The trail gets smoother, but still scattered with loose rocks in places, and begins to climb steadily up to Sargents Mesa

 Sargents Mesa at the end of Segment 16 is a beautifully unique place, expansive meadows that you wouldn’t expect to find at 11,500 feet

Sargents Mesa at the end of Segment 16 is a beautifully unique place, expansive meadows that you wouldn’t expect to find at 11,500 feet

Segment 17: Sargents Mesa to Highway 114

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 44 to 45

  • Distance: 20.4 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 2,810 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 4,810 feet

  • Fun Factor: 2

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 4

Detail

To me this is the most mentally difficult section of the whole CT. The mileage seems easy and the elevation gain/loss are in your favor, but the terrain is just hellish. Welcome to the Cochetopa Hills or “Hell Hills” as I’ve heard them affectionately called. The Cochetopa Hills are actually very unique and really beautiful, the trail is just not built for mountain biking. You start with some chossy downhill which isn’t so bad. This is followed by rolling, chossy trail that you really can’t consistently ride because of the rocks scattered all over the moto track trail; this is the most frustrating part for sure. Summit two high points on similarly difficult trail and then begin a descent that may require you to get off your bike. Once you get to mile 10.5, the going does get a bit easier, but the trail conditions are less than ideal for mountain bikes. Continue to climb and descend four high points on tough trail. The downhill from the last high point is super fun, though. This is followed by a dirt road which leads to paved Route 114. Despite my negative narration, I look back fondly on this section as the one that broke me, cast away my expectations of what bikepacking is, and opened my mind up to really (really!) experience the last third of the CT. Good job, Hell Hills!

  • 0.0 to 2.4: Chossy downhill on doubletrack

  • 2.4 to 6.9: Rolling choss that is difficult to ride consistently, plenty of hike-a-bike on flat ground here

  • 6.9 to 9.8: The unrideable choss continues, but generally uphill now as you summit two high points

  • 9.8 to 10.5: Sketchy, chossy downhill

  • 10.5 to 12.4: The trail smooths out a bit here and you are able to ride consistently for a while

  • 12.4 to 16.5: Although the trail is far less chossy than the first 10 miles, the going is still tough at times with plenty of hike-a-bike opportunities as you ride up and down four high points

  • 16.5 to 17.8: Fun, but short downhill leads your to a fire road

  • 17.8 to 20.4: Generally smooth fire road descends to Route 114

 We camped at Baldy Lake near mile 6.9 of Segment 17, it was worth the 400 foot hike down (and back up in the morning) from the trail

We camped at Baldy Lake near mile 6.9 of Segment 17, it was worth the 400 foot hike down (and back up in the morning) from the trail

Segment 18 (partial): Highway 114 to Saguache Park Road

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 46 to 47

  • Distance: 12.3 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 1,300 feet (estimate)

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 1,500 feet (estimate)

  • Fun Factor: 2

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 1

Detail

After completing the last “Hell Hills” segment, Segment 18 is a relief. It is generally smooth and flowy single track and dirt road. It starts off with some not-so-well-marked trail that climbs slowly uphill on nice, smooth singletrack. Watch out for the cows! At mile 3.6, there is a steep, rooty hill which will probably require a quick hike-a-bike, but from here it is smooth and generally downhill. There is a bit of easy route finding to do as you switch back and forth from single track to dirt road and doubletrack. Enjoy this easy segment! Be sure to go right at mile 12.3 to begin the road detour around La Garita Wilderness.

  • 0.0 to 1.0: Navigate your way along some smooth and flat, but not-so-well-marked trail

  • 1.0 to 3.6: Smooth gradual uphill climb

  • 3.6 to 3.8: Short, but steep and rooty climb, probably requires a hike-a-bike

  • 3.8 to 6.7: Fun downhill on doubletrack

  • 6.7 to 12.3: Navigate your way to the end of the segment on a mixture of smooth single track, dirt road, and doubletrack

 Smooth terrain on Segment 18

Smooth terrain on Segment 18

Road Detour 5: La Garita Wilderness Detour

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 84 to 85

  • Distance: 56.1 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 5,565 miles

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 3,990 miles

  • Fun Factor: 2

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 1

Detail

This is the best road detour of the CT. It is very beautiful thoughout and never difficult. It also marks the change from the hard middle sections of the trail to the beautiful (but still hard) high alpine final sections of the trail. After surviving those middle sections, you’re now a real bikepacker and ready to embrace the segments which follow. Congrats! The first 20-plus miles of this detour are really chill and enjoyable on generally good dirt roads. There is a bit of a climb over Los Pinos Pass, but it is never difficult and way easier than it looks in the CT Databook profile. Enjoy a really fun and beautiful descent after the pass. The next 15 miles are a steady climb again on a nice dirt road through beautiful terrain with only a few steep sections. The long climb on a loaded bike does get exhausting, but it is still very enjoyable. At mile 48 the detour takes you left onto paved Route 149 and Spring Creek Pass. The paved road goes uphill at first for a short section and then descends for a while and ends on a steady uphill to Spring Creek Pass. If you go right on Route 149 at mile 48, you descend into Lake City on an awesome road descent. This is what we did. Lake City is worth the trip, especially if you’ve never been there. You can get a free shuttle out of Lake City every day at noon from the town center; check in with Lucky at the Raven’s Rest Hostel for more details. If you want to get an earlier start than noon, you can also get a shuttle from guiding services in town; we got a ride from The Sportsman Outdoor & Fly Shop for $40.

  • 0.0 to 23.0: Good dirt road, descending for the first half and ascending for the second half

  • 23.0 to 27.5: Easy climb to Los Pinos Pass

  • 27.5 to 31.8: Fun, beautiful descent on dirt road

  • 31.8 to 47.9: Steady uphill, lower grade at first and then increasing in grade later, some short, steep sections along the way

  • 47.9 to 56.1: Paved road, short up, then long descent, then long, steady climb

 Nice dirt roads and pretty scenery about on the La Garita Wilderness detour

Nice dirt roads and pretty scenery about on the La Garita Wilderness detour

Segment 22: Spring Creek Pass to Carson Saddle

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 54 to 55

  • Distance: 17.2 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 3,829 miles

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 2,385 miles

  • Fun Factor: 4

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 3

Detail

Segment 22 is the gateway into the high alpine world that you’ll be a part of until the last segment of the trail. Although the first part of Segment 22 is a little boring and bumpy, it gets way better as you ascend well above treeline, passing the CT high point at 13,271 feet. The trail begins on rocky and somewhat rutted doubletrack. Watch out for the sheep! The double track leads up to Jarosa Mesa which is a collection of many babyhead rocks embedded into the ground. It stays bumpy even though you’re on fairly flat terrain. Descend to the base of a hill with antennas and then climb a double track jeep road. Descend from here on fun singletrack and then climb tough a pretty forest just below treeline. One at treeline, you’ll continue the climb. The end of the first climb is a very rocky section of trail that will require a hike-a-bike with some real grit. This section of trail is a steep staircase of rock. This is not the high point of the trail. Once you get to the top, you’ll have generally rolling trail with a few short steep uphills and some rocky sections which will force you off your bike. Continue to climb gradually to the CT high point. Then descend a steep, fast section of single track down to a similarly steep section of jeep road which leads to the Carson Saddle mining area.

  • 0.0 to 2.6: Climb gradually on rocky, rutted double track

  • 2.6 to 4.5: Continue climbing on the annoyingly bumpy Jarosa Mesa, not much trail here, so keep your eyes open for trail markers and cairns, definitely some hike-a-bike here

  • 4.5 to 5.6: The trail gets a little less bumpy on this descent

  • 5.6 to 7.0: Climb a rutted out, but not so rocky, jeep track

  • 7.0 to 8.7: Enjoy a fun downhill into a forested area

  • 8.7 to 9.2: Climb though a forest on good trail with some rocks and hike-a-bike mixed in

  • 9.2 to 11.5: Move above treeline and continue to climb on mostly good trail with some ruts and some rocky sections

  • 11.5 to 12.3: Steeper riding and then get ready to do some heavy pushing, this steep rocky section requires a hike-a-bike

  • 12.3 to 15.6: Rolling terrain on mostly good, fast trail with some steep uphills and rocky sections climbing to CT high point

  • 15.6 to 17.2: Steep downhill first on somewhat rutted singletrack and then on a jeep road

 High alpine terrain around mile 11 of Segment 22, steep staircase climb visible in distance in the top left corner of the photo

High alpine terrain around mile 11 of Segment 22, steep staircase climb visible in distance in the top left corner of the photo

Segment 23: Carson Saddle to Stony Pass

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 56 to 57

  • Distance: 15.9 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 3,515 miles

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 3,339 miles

  • Fun Factor: 4

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 3

Detail

Segment 23 is pure magic in an alpine wonderland. You'll be above 12,000 feet the entire segment. After you reach the first pass at 3.7 miles, you’ll ride from saddle to saddle going through a different drainage each time. Each drainage is amazingly different from the last. With a few exceptions on rockier ascents, there aren’t a lot of hike-a-bike sections based on terrain, but the high altitude will get you off your bike. Get an early start and enjoy this segment as you may never find yourself back in this wonderful space again!

  • 0.0 to 1.7: Fairly rocky, but rideable gradual downhill

  • 1.7 to 3.7: Rockier at the bottom with fewer rocks towards the top, you’ll hike a little, but can ride most of it

  • 3.7 to 6.0: Sweet, mostly smooth downhill to area around Cataract Lake

  • 6.0 to 7.8: Climb loose and rocky trail up to the next saddle, you’ll probably have to get off your bike at points

  • 7.8 to 8.5: Descend fun downhill on good, but sometimes off-camber trail

  • 8.5 to 9.3: Ascend gradually starting with a steep climb out of a gully

  • 9.3 to 10.6: A small descent followed by a gradual climb, still good trail with the occasional technical section

  • 10.6 to 11.6: Another fun descent on nice trail into a large basin

  • 11.6 to 11.9: Steep switchbacks take you up to ridge

  • 11.9 to 13.7: This is a rolling section of trail that trends upward, with a few more rocks than the sections before it and some small steep climbs that will likely get you off your bike

  • 13.7 to 15.5: Another fun descent with some large rocks in the trail

  • 15.5 to 15.9: Climb rocky trail up gradually out to Stony Pass Road

 Pure magic descending down to Cataract Lake in Segment 23

Pure magic descending down to Cataract Lake in Segment 23

Road Detour 6: Weminuche Wilderness Detour

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 86 to 87

  • Distance: 17.5 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 1,880 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 3,585 feet

  • Fun Factor: 2

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 1

Detail

After a short uphill to start the segment, descend the steep, super bumpy, aptly-named Stony Pass Road. Passing Jeeps on the way down is pretty fun. The CT Databook references a number of lefts during the descent, but at least a couple of these were not obvious to me. Instead of counting lefts, just continue generally downhill on the larger, more traveled road. After you reach the bottom of the descent, you’ll turn left and head southwest into Silverton. Make sure you grab a bite to eat and a beer (and a milkshake!) in Silverton. From here you’ll climb Route 550 up to Molas Pass. Although you gain nearly 2,000 feet of elevation the riding is easy on the paved road. Enjoy the beautiful San Juan scenery on the way up, but be careful on the road as there is often little or no shoulder and plenty of sharp turns.

  • 0.0 to 0.2: Short uphill on dirt road

  • 0.2 to 2.8: Very bumpy, rocky, pretty steep descent on the dirt road

  • 2.8 to 4.9: Stays bumpy and rocky, but gets steeper as you descend a number of switchbacks

  • 4.9 to 6.1: Dirt road flattens out and becomes less bumpy

  • 6.1 to 10.8: Smooth dirt and gravel roads into Silverton

  • 10.8 to 17.5: Smooth pavement up to Molas Pass, be careful as you ride with traffic

 Quick stop in Silverton to get some food, a milkshake, hot chocolate, and beer for the road

Quick stop in Silverton to get some food, a milkshake, hot chocolate, and beer for the road

Segment 25: Molas Pass to Bolam Pass Road

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 60 to 61

  • Distance: 20.9 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 3,799 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 3,578 feet

  • Fun Factor: 4

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 3

Detail

If I was forced to pick one favorite segment, Segment 25 would be it. It has a little bit of everything and a lot of fast, flowy riding mixed throughout. Also mixed in are quite a few hike-a-bike sections that are induced by the high altitude more than the technical nature of the trail (still very technical in places, though). The trail starts out on some uninspired singletrack that winds around Little Molas Lake. The climb hints at the start of the real fun. Once the climb ends, you’ll enjoy some seriously fun rolling singletrack for the next three miles. Enjoy the handlebar-high wildflowers and beautiful views. Climbing starts again and continues to get steeper and rockier until you get to a beautiful pass well above treeline. Next is a 4 mile ripper downhill followed by a 4 mile climb on really excellent trail. Segment 25 ends on some chossy, rutted out single and double track.

  • 0.0 to 0.7: Flat, rolling singletrack goes around Little Molas Lake

  • 0.7 to 3.0: Steady climb on good trail

  • 3.0 to 6.1: Super fun rolling singletrack with some technical sections mixed in

  • 6.1 to 9.4: Climbing restarts on rockier singletrack as you work your way up to 12,000 feet

  • 9.4 to 11.2: Rockier alpine trail continues to climb and get steeper, some hike-a-bike on rockier steeper sections up to pass

  • 11.2 to 15.5: Ripper downhill on generally good singletrack with some rocky sections, tight switchbacks at start

  • 15.5 to 19.1: Steady, but fun climb on pretty good single track, plush at times, rocky and steep at times too forcing the hike-a-bike

  • 19.1 to 20.9: Ride a gradual downhill on bumpy, rutted single and double track

 Graysill in the background as we reached the last saddle of Segment 25 at mile 19.1

Graysill in the background as we reached the last saddle of Segment 25 at mile 19.1

Segment 26: Bolam Pass Road to Hotel Draw Road

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 62 to 63

  • Distance: 10.9 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 1,827 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 2,551 feet

  • Fun Factor: 3

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 2

Detail

Segment 26 is very rideable on mostly smooth singletrack, but there is some work to do. There is a mile of climbing from the start which leads you to a flat, rolling two mile section of trail with lots of Solomon Seal and a big rock pile to your left. A second mile long climb awaits. From the top of this second climb, enjoy a rolling downhill as you approach the ascent to Blackhawk Pass. Be sure to take a moment to enjoy the scenery on top of Blackhawk Pass (looking around at the San Juans on the evening we made the top was one of the most amazing experiences of my life). A ripper downhill awaits. Be sure to get some water on the way down if you need any.

  • 0.0 to 0.9: Steady climb on mostly smooth singletrack

  • 0.9 to 3.0: Mostly rolling singletrack with a few sections of doubletrack thrown in, all very rideable

  • 3.0 to 3.9: Another uphill on good trail with some technical sections mixed in

  • 3.9 to 6.3: Rolling terrain, generally downhill, very fun at times

  • 6.3 to 6.9: Climb through flowers, small trees (with roots), and then a nice dirt path to Blackhawk Pass

  • 6.9 to 10.9: Fast, fun downhill with a few tight switchbacks

 Unbelievable scenery abound in the San Juans, looking east towards Mount Graysill from Blackhawk Pass at mile 6.9 of Segment 26

Unbelievable scenery abound in the San Juans, looking east towards Mount Graysill from Blackhawk Pass at mile 6.9 of Segment 26

Segment 27: Hotel Draw Road to Kennebec TH

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 64 to 65

  • Distance: 20.6 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 4,186 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 2,922 feet

  • Fun Factor: 4

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 2

Detail

Segment 27 is much more rideable than it appears to be at first glance in the CT Databook. Other previous segments with similar profiles have been heavy on the hike-a-bike, but this one is a nicely rideable surprise. You travel on a mixture of nice singletrack and dirt roads for much of the segment. When you’re on the dirt roads, keep your eyes peeled for CT trail markers on the side trails as the turns are not always immediately apparent; be sure to consult the CT Databook if you’re in doubt. There is a climb about 2 miles into the segment which puts you up on a ridge that rolls along for another 10 miles or so. From there, you’ll begin the more climby part of the segment. But all the climbs are on smooth dirt until the very end as you go up Indian Trail Ridge. The first climb leads up to another flat rolling section of trail that is about two miles long. After that, you’ll be on steeper, more exposed, but still good trail. You’ll crest and descent six (don’t count them) small knobs which will take you higher and higher in elevation. Some knobs, especially the descent on the last one have some talus that may likely require hike-a-bike. The Indian Trail Ridge part is super fun and one of my favorites on the trail. From the end of the ridge, you descend a pretty gnarly hiking trail down to Taylor Lake. From Taylor Lake to the end of the segment are fast, flowy trails.

  • 0.0 to 1.4: Back and forth between singletrack and dirt roads, nice dirt, rolling terrain

  • 1.4 to 2.6: Climb on nice dirt trail, sometimes a little steep

  • 2.6 to 11.3: More nice, rolling terrain mixed between singletrack and dirt roads

  • 11.3 to 13.3: Steady climb, still on good singletrack

  • 13.3 to 15.0: Last flat rolling section of the segment, fun riding in the woods

  • 15.0 to 17.1: Steeper and more exposed climbing and descending, still on very rideable trail

  • 17.1 to 19.4: The trail gets rockier with some scree slopes, hike-a-bike mixed in here, especially down gnarly descent to Taylor Lake

  • 19.4 to 20.6: Rolling, easily rideable terrain to Kennebec Trailhead

 Coming down the one of the high points along Indian Trail Ridge on Segment 27 near mile 18.5

Coming down the one of the high points along Indian Trail Ridge on Segment 27 near mile 18.5

Segment 28: Kennebec TH to Junction Creek TH

Summary

  • CT Databook (7th edition): Pages 66 to 67

  • Distance: 21.5 miles

  • SOBO Elevation gain: 1,897 feet

  • SOBO Elevation loss: 6,557 feet

  • Fun Factor: 4

  • Hike-a-bike Factor: 2

Detail

Kennebec Trailhead marks the beginning of Segment 28 of the trail. Savor this segment as all too soon you’ll be thrust back into real life. The first bit is at alpine, but you’ll be descending fast, going from about 11,500 to 8,500 feet in the first 7 miles. Be careful of the talus slope about a mile in. From there it’s a fast, sometimes bumpy 6 mile downhill, followed by 4 miles of climbing, sometimes steep hike-a-bike. The last 8 miles of singletrack are super sweet and flowy, some of the best riding you’ll do on the whole trail. From the end of the sweet stuff, it’s a little over 2 miles to the trailhead on a busy hiking path that is mostly flat with a few technical surprises thrown in. Congratulations! You did it!

  • 0.0 to 1.1: Fairly flat, packed trail with a few rocks, annoying shrubs as you head downhill

  • 1.1 to 1.3: Talus slope that is kind of ride-able, but don’t push it if you’re not feeling it, lots of riding left in this segment

  • 1.3 to 7.1: Ripper downhill with plenty of roots and a few rocks

  • 7.1 to 11.2: Uphill with some surprisingly steep sections that will be hike-a-bike if you’re loaded down (don’t feel bad, just savor the last bit of pain!)

  • 11.2 to 18.9 This is the sweet, sweet single track that this section is known for, have fun!

  • 18.9 to 21.5: Follow Junction Creek down to the trailhead, be careful of hikers and dogs as this section is heavily traveled

 Our last campsite of the CT near mile 7.1 of Segment 28

Our last campsite of the CT near mile 7.1 of Segment 28