Keystone Bike Guide: Keystone Gulch Road (video) |

Keystone Bike Guide: Keystone Gulch Road (video)

The trailhead for Keystone Gulch Road, found on the east end of Keystone Mountain.
Phil Lindeman / |

By the numbers Distance: 14.8 miles roundtrip Rating: Easy to more difficult Time: 3-4 hours Elevation: 9,240-11,920 feet Type: Out-and-back, dirt road Season: Late June to early October Connectors: West Ridge (Colorado Trail), Keystone Aqueduct, Tour de Trash loop

SUMMIT COUNTY — Curious to know what The Outback looks like in the middle of the summer? Keystone Gulch Road is your ticket to Colorado’s version of the Australian wilderness, even if the two only share a name.

The out-and-back dirt road climbs gradually along a lively stream near the base of Keystone Resort, weaving past the Santiago Express and Outback Express chairlifts on a 7.4-mile ride deep into the woods past classic ski runs: Mozart, Cat Dancer, Spillway, Bighorn. This route offers a number of trail options higher up the drainage, including a challenging climb to North Peak and a loop combining abandoned logging roads and the West Ridge section of the Colorado Trail.

When traveling inside the Keystone Resort boundary, stay on routes designated for bike travel and expect to encounter vehicles on Keystone Gulch Road, including regular employee and truck traffic from June to August. Camping is allowed in designated areas along the road. The route is closed in May and early June for elk calving. Don’t travel if the gate at the base is shut.

Begin pedaling up Keystone Gulch Road. Novices will enjoy the first few miles of this well-maintained dirt road. It climbs gradually along a meandering stream and through a shady forest. It winds along the base of the ski area, passing two chairlifts.
At 4.5 miles, near the third chairlift (Outback Express), the road veers left and begins climbing more steeply. Novices may want to turn around here.

To reach North Peak, ascend steadily for 2 more miles. At about 6 miles (just before the top), there’s a fork to the right near a gate. Continue straight to North Peak and the Outpost Restaurant, which is sometimes open for lunch during the summer season.

For more exploring, turn right onto the side road. Climb over rocky terrain for a little more than a mile to the scenic Erickson Mine. This historic structure is private and fragile — please view it from a distance. Since the later portion of the trip is mainly above timberline, be sure the weather is cooperating before you decide to extend the ride.

From Interstate 70, follow Highway 6 east to Keystone. At the stoplight for the Keystone Tennis Center, turn right onto Keystone Road. Turn left immediately, cross the Snake River and turn right onto Soda Ridge Road after about 1/4 mile. Drive another 1/2 mile and turn left into the dirt parking lot on Keystone Gulch Road. Park near the gate.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in June 2015 and is annually updated for accuracy.

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