Keystone Bike Guide: Montezuma Road |

Keystone Bike Guide: Montezuma Road

Patrick Linfante
Summit County cyclist
Patrick Linfante, left, and other cyclists pose for a photo in the high-Alpine town of Montezuma after riding up Montezuma Road.
Photo from Patrick Linfante
Fast facts

Distance: 5 miles one way
Rating: Easy/paved
Time: 30 minutes
Elevation: 9,366-10,266 (900 feet)
Type: Singletrack loop
Season: May-October
Trail: Paved road
Parking: Snake River inlet at Swan Mountain Road or River Run lot in Keystone

Just beyond Keystone lies one of Summit County’s best-kept secrets. As you leave River Run to the east, you are presented the option to head toward the old mining town known as Montezuma. Unlike the generally congested U.S. Highway 6 to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Montezuma Road offers a favorable alternative. These climbs are equivalent in mileage, however there’s 500 fewer feet of climbing involved with the latter. The meandering route leads you along the Snake River as you journey past open fields and forest, thus making it a welcome choice for local and touring cyclists. — Patrick Linfante

Montezuma Road is quite accessible as it extends where Summit County’s current recpath ends. The route starts from Keystone’s River Run Village, but riders can choose to ride longer by starting with the recpath along Dillon Reservoir. As you depart the lakeshore and cross the wooden bridge at the Snake River Inlet, you pass the right turn toward Swan Mountain and continue heading straight. This 4-mile addition offers a mild ascent that leads you through the heart of The River golf course at Keystone.

Cyclists can anticipate sparse crowds on this route in comparison to others throughout the county. Although you will technically be riding on a road, there is no need to worry. Montezuma Road experiences a lower volume of vehicle traffic, and during slow times, you may only see a car or two. The road is also unique in terms of climate. During cooler months, as well as cooler times of the day, you will find various climates throughout the ride, including encountering pockets of cooler air. Make sure you dress appropriately. During the early and late seasons, you also might encounter patches of snow throughout the route.

From River Run, head east. Montezuma Road offers a moderate grade over the course of 5 miles. The grade is consistent with minor increases along the way. The journey is peaceful, and it is easy to get into a happy rhythm. Although the climb appears to be tame, it is imperative that you leave a little gas in the tank for the last mile. Nicknamed “Montezuma’s Revenge” on the popular app Strava, the last mile comprises one-third of the total elevation gain for the climb. Once you reach where the pavement meets the dirt, you will know that you just conquered Montezuma. The only thing left to do is enjoy the reward that is the descent.

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