Summit County Bike Trails: Frisco to Vail Pass

Summit Daily staff report
The Vail Pass recpath drops 1,500 feet passing through Copper Mountain Resort on the way to Frisco. It's a 14.2-mile ride from top to bottom. Between Copper and Frisco the path separates slightly from I-70 along Ten Mile Creek.
Summit Daily / Sebastian Foltz |

Every year cyclists ring in the start of a new biking season with the opening of Vail Pass recpath. Connecting Frisco to Vail, this portion of trail offers something for everyone. Some area bike shops offer shuttles to the summit of Vail Pass for a strictly downhill ride. Those opting for a shorter loop can go from Frisco to Copper Mountain Resort and back — roughly 6 miles each way — or ride the Summit Stage to Copper and take the trail from there. Those seeking a real High Country challenge can opt for the 1,500-foot vertical gain from Frisco to the top of Vail Pass — approximately 14 miles— or even go all the way to Vail.

The ride is a steady climb with steep grades and switchbacks approaching the top of the pass. The recpath typically opens in late May and is accessible into early October. The section between Officers Gulch and Copper Mountain is susceptible to flooding during peak snowmelt — late May to early June — and can make for a wet ride or an occasional closure.

Know Before You Go: This trail is very busy especially during the summer weekends and holidays. Anticipate a large number of other bikers, runners and hikers on this popular trail. Also expect to encounter people stopped along the trail. Do not ride at excessive speeds especially in Ten Mile Canyon where sight distances are often reduced. Check weather forecasts before starting your ride. Weather conditions change quickly within Ten Mile Canyon and on Vail Pass. Occasional snow is even possible into June.

Parking: From I-70 take the west Frisco exit 201 to Main Street; the bicycle park and ride is on the right-hand side of Main Street immediately east of I-70. Parking is also available at the Vail Pass rest stop located near the summit of the pass on the south side of I-70 and at the Wheeler Flats Trailhead by Copper Mountain.

Description: Follow the paved recpath from Frisco, along what was once the Denver, South Park and Pacific narrow gauge railroad grade through Ten Mile Canyon to Copper Mountain Resort. The bike route continues along the paved bike lane on Copper Road. The paved recpath resumes at the other end of the resort adjacent to I-70 and parallels the highway to the summit of Vail Pass — often dipping well below the interstate and into a pleasant valley.

Additional trail information is also available in the free annual Explore Summit County Bike Guide.

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