Summit County Bike Trails: Colorado Trail
Ryan Summerlin March 8, 2016
Following a beautiful section of the Colorado Trail, this loop explores forested hillsides and open meadows above the Swan River Valley. The West Ridge section of the Colorado Trail includes some of the area’s most popular singletrack.
Know Before You Go
This trail is quite rideable in the opposite direction and also can be split into three shorter loops by parking either at the dredge boat parking lot, 2.6 miles up Tiger Road or near the old Tiger Townsite, 4.8 miles up Tiger Road. Use either the North Fork Road or Horseshoe Gulch Road as connections back to your vehicle. The 6-mile loop following the Middle Fork Road and the first section of the trail is the easiest. If you use Horseshoe Gulch Road, park at the Dredge Boat Parking Lot and follow the trail through the bridges. Shortly after passing by a green gate is the CO Trail intersection – left to the villas at Swans Nest/Revette Drive and right to climb up to West Ridge. Please stay on the trail, as all surrounding land is private and you will be trespassing if you wander. This trail is maintained entirely by volunteers, who provide feedback to the Forest Service and Colorado Trail Foundation about the trail’s condition. Please ride responsibly so comments regarding cyclists are positive and the trail remains open to them. Also, anticipate other cyclists, hikers and horsemen on this popular trail. Expect to yield and use caution around blind corners, especially when descending. Expect traffic on Tiger Road.
Get on the paved recpath and ride south a short distance. Cross the Hwy at the traffic light onto Tiger Road (by the Breckenridge Golf Course). Follow this road as it changes to dirt up to the North Fork road junction at 5.5 miles. Stay to the right to remain on Tiger Road, crossing a one-lane bridge. Pass some private property and at the next junction continue straight, continuing on to the Middle Fork Road. Climb along the left side of the drainage, passing a gate. At about 7.8 miles, look for entrances to the Colorado Trail on both sides of the road. Turn left onto the trail (the right fork climbs steeply to Georgia Pass and the main road climbs above timberline, eventually dropping into Montezuma). Ride over rolling terrain along the base of Wise Mountain. Cross the North Fork of the Swan River. Then, at roughly 10.4 miles, cross the North Fork Road (this road climbs to high alpine valley). The trail continues on the other side and after crossing a stream and passing a road and log fence, begins a long, steady climb to West Ridge. Cross through a logged area and ride along West Ridge. Pass 2 trails on the right that drop to Keystone (see the West Ridge ride). Reach the first of many switchbacks that drop you below the ridge. It’s easy to get going too fast on this section. There’s been a lot of unnecessary trail damage by riders locking their brakes and skidding at the difficult-to-anticipate switchbacks. Please control your speed to help maintain the quality of this wonderful trail. At the lowest switchback, located on an open, sagebrush-covered slope, you’ll pass the first of several side trails (this one forks right to Keystone Ranch, stay left to remain on the CO Trail). The next climb quickly turns to another long descent through thick forest and hillside meadows. Cross Horseshoe Gulch Road at about 19.3 miles and begin the final climb of the ride. After passing a couple more side trails, the Colorado Trail eventually forks right in a meadow that provides views of the entire Ten Mile Range. A final descent through several tight switchbacks ends at a pond next to the Villas at Swan’s Nest Subdivision. The trail crosses a ford at the pond inlet, crosses Revett Drive to a bridge crossing the Swan River. The trail then heads west on a single track to Highway 9. Cross the highway, turn right on the paved recpath and ride back to your vehicle.
From I-70, drive through Frisco on Hwy 9 and continue south toward Breckenridge for about 4.6 more miles. Turn right onto road #950 and park at the Gold Hill trailhead.
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