14 miles of family friendly, downhill fun from Vail Pass to Frisco
Ryan Summerlin July 16, 2013
“If the mountain’s on your right and the creek is on your left you’re headed the right way,” Grant Brinkley, of Rebel Sports in Frisco, said as he shuttled a group of cyclists up to the top of Vail Pass.
As he drove, he continued with instructions on following the trail back down to Frisco.
“Does everybody have sunscreen? I think the UV rating is at a 12 out of 16 today,” he cautioned. “You’d have to be on the top of Everest for a 16.”
As he pulled the van into the rest area at the top of Vail Pass, he pointed to a ridge and offered a brief history lesson.
“That’s Machine Gun Ridge; the 10th Mountain Division used to train up there for World War II,” he said. “Rumor has it there’s an old Howitzer up there. Don’t know if I believe that.”
Before unloading and setting the guests loose on the Vail Pass recpath, he cautioned the soon-to-be riders to watch for sharp turns, uphill travel and a section of trail with loose dirt.
For Ray and Marcie Ince of San Antonio, shuttling to the top and riding down from Vail Pass is an annual tradition. Every year, and sometimes more than once, they’ll bring friends along to do the tour that: “I’ve done 67 times,” Ray said on the ride up, in a tone that made it hard to determine whether he was serious or not.
When asked why he’s done it so many times, Ray said, “It’s just gorgeous.”
“It’s inspiring,” his wife, Marcie, added.
Bike riding down from the top of Vail Pass is likely one of Summit County’s most family friendly activities. On a summer day, the trail is populated with everyone from parents towing bike trailers to road warriors in training.
For Ashley Harsanyne and Trey Blake, first-time Colorado visitors from West Virginia, the ride was a break between tackling 14ers.
“It was easier than we thought,” said Blake. But he admitted they used the brakes a lot.
Pedaling is almost unnecessary. From the top of Vail Pass back to Frisco it’s a 14.2-mile ride that drops 1,500 feet.
Coming down from the pass the trail quickly dips into a valley between the east- and westbound lanes of Interstate 70. The traffic above is muffled as the trail parallels West Ten Mile Creek.
After a quick descent the path cuts through Copper Mountain Resort, making an ideal stop for both kids and adults. Riders can stop for a coffee, jump on Copper’s zipline, take a ride up their chairlift, or participate in a number of other summer activities at the resort.
Leaving Copper, I-70 becomes a little more noticeable as the recpath parallels the highway at the same level. After a short stretch, the rushing sound of Ten Mile Creek starts to muffle the highway, as the trail veers slightly from the highway into a lightly wooded section.
From there, the momentum picks up again. Riders can take a break at the pond at Officers Gulch, stop at the remains of on old mine, just off the trail, or find their own spot along the creek.
Locals know a little spot along the creek where, as Brinkley described it, “some old hippies” built a rock garden.
As it makes its way in to town, the six-mile stretch from Copper to Frisco splits toward Main Street or continues on the recpath toward Breckenridge.
Rebel Sports, in Frisco, offers a free shuttle with a bike rental. Guests have the option to ride at their own pace and continue on to Breckenridge or Dillon Reservoir.
More information is available at www.rebelsportsrentals.com or by calling (970) 668-2759.