This Colorado bike trail has a new appropriate name, but it’s still a classic ride |

This Colorado bike trail has a new appropriate name, but it’s still a classic ride

The pass between Bergen Park and Echo Lake, is now called Mestaa’ėhehe, replacing a Native American slur

John Meyer
Denver Post
The classic Mestaa’Ėhehe Pass bike ride, formerly known by cyclists as the Squaw Pass ride, was showing its fall colors on Monday. The Interior Department made the name change official last month because the former name is considered a slur against women by Native Americans. Note that the uphill lane (right) has room for slow-moving cyclists to feel relatively safe on the two-lane road. That’s not true beside the downhill lane, because the descent is steep enough for cyclists to keep up with vehicular traffic.
John Meyer/Denver Post

My new favorite bike tour is the Mestaa’Ėhehe Pass ride, about 30 miles west of Denver in Clear Creek County, but the only thing new about it is its official name.

For decades, this much-loved Colorado classic from Bergen Park to Echo Lake was known as the Squaw Pass ride. But in September, the U.S. Department of the Interior officially renamed both the pass and the neighboring mountain because the word “squaw” is considered to be a slur against Native American women. The newly-monikered Mestaa’Ėhehe (pronounced mess-taw-HAY) Pass and Mestaa’Ėhehe Mountain honor a Cheyenne woman who served as a translator between plains tribes and white traders in southern Colorado early in the 19th century.

They were part of a group of 28 Colorado sites (and 650 nationwide) that have been renamed; all of the Colorado names included the same Native American slur.

This is a magnificent ride, 36 miles roundtrip from Bergen Park to Echo Lake and back. It climbs 3,300 feet to the high point, 15 miles out, then descends about 450 feet in 3 miles to Echo Lake.

Yes, the outbound portion is challenging because of all that climbing — that’s why we like it, after all — but there is very little pedaling over the final 15 miles back to the starting point because gravity does the work. In fact, I use my brakes much of the way down because anything over 30 mph on a bike scares me.

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