Summit County Bike Guide: Baker’s Tank autumn loop (video)
By the numbers
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 1 hour
Elevation: 10,360-10,850 feet (690 vertical gain)
Type: Loop, dirt road, trail/singletrack
Season: Mid-June to October
SUMMIT COUNTY — Known to locals as a classic loop just outside of downtown Breckenridge, Baker’s Tank is home to a mellow climb (if taken as a dirt road loop), a wicked-fun downhill and just a taste of technical riding, with rocks and roots and a handful of sharp switchbacks. It also offers eye candy in autumn, when the underbrush and rogue aspens lining the singletrack burst into reds, yellows and oranges.
Although you can ride the trail both directions, most cyclists prefer making it a loop with Boreas Pass Road. An easy ascent along the tree-lined road takes you to a hidden swath of singletrack that parallels the road from the hillside, descending through a dense pine forest. The trail begins at the eponymous Baker’s Tank, a relic of the former Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad line that ran over Boreas. This descent ends within feet of the Aspen Alley trailhead, yet another route made for late-season riding.
Know before you go
When the gate on Boreas Pass Road (near the lower Baker’s Tank trailhead) is closed, Boreas Pass Road is still snowy and wet. Avoid this ride until the gate opens. Expect vehicle traffic on the road, especially on weekends and throughout July and August. Bordered by aspen groves, the ascent up Boreas Pass rewards autumn riders with colorful views of Quandary Peak and the Tenmile Range. Snow tends to linger on the Baker’s Tank Trail early in summer, and the trail tends to flood in sections after heavy rains. The route connects with several trails leading to public land. Know the trails and junctions before heading out.
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The trail can be taken in either direction. Most riders prefer to pedal up Boreas Pass Road to the upper Baker’s Tank trailhead, leaving a solid 3 miles of singletrack for the descent.
For this route, follow Boreas Pass Road 3 miles to Baker’s Tank, a large maroon water tank used in the early 1900s by the Denver, South Park and Pacific railroad company to cool engines after the long haul up eastern Boreas Pass. Turn onto a rocky Jeep road forking left just before the tank, where the trail once ended.
From the upper trailhead, climb briefly and veer left onto a trail starting near a fence. It parallels the dirt road below and then switchbacks left. Pedal along this nearly level trail as it winds around a hill, clinging to a steep slope. Reach a junction at 3.9 miles, turn left at the brown arrow sign and begin a long descent (going straight leads to private property and a connector with Baldy Mountain Road).
For the rest of this ride, expect uphill traffic and use caution around blind corners. Enjoy twists and turns through dense forest. The singletrack is covered with roots and rocks, but the grade is rarely steeper than 6-7 percent, making it a perfect introduction to light technical riding. Veteran mountain bikers will enjoy barreling through the turns as fast as their suspension allows.
The singletrack connects with an old road at 4.5 miles. Turn left at the junction (going right again leads to private land), then descend briefly and bear right almost immediately to head back onto the singletrack. The overgrown path to the left leads to a camping area/turnaround and connects with Boreas Pass Road.
After returning to rooty, rocky singletrack, continue on the trail as it cruises along a fairly level section through the trees for about 1 mile. It then descends along a steep hillside, switchbacking downward before ending at the small trailhead parking lot.
From I-70, drive south toward Breckenridge on Highway 9. Turn left onto Boreas Pass Road (also known as Broken Lance Drive if taken to the right) at the stoplight on the south end of town. From here, you have two options. Park at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena lot and hop on the free Boreas Pass loop bus. Ride the route for about 15 minutes until the bus reaches the Bluffs Condos stop. Pedal up Boreas Pass Road for about 1 mile to the brown access gate.
You can also drive 3.5 miles up Boreas Pass Road to pavement’s end. Park in the pull-off on the left where the road becomes dirt. The lower Baker’s Tank trailhead begins on a small ridge above the brown access gate.
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