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Switzerland Trail

Easy

Trail

17.6 mile 28.2 kilometer point to point
Doubletrack
Easy

Elevation

Ascent: 1,019' 311 m
Descent: -1,437' -438 m
High: 9,075' 2,766 m
Low: 7,717' 2,352 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 7% (4°)

Dogs

Unknown
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Trail shared by Nick Wilder

Easy riding through fantastic scenery and interesting history.

Nick Wilder

Electric Mountain Bikes Allowed

Features -none-

Description

The Switzerland Trail follows the remains of a narrow gauge railroad that operated from the 1890's until 1919. The railroad once split at the town of Sunset (near the middle of the trail), where a spur line ran down Fourmile Canyon to the town of Boulder. It first served miners from Ward, Caribou, Nederland, and much of the region immediately around the trail. As mining collapsed, the trains focused on bringing tourists up for the great views and meadows (the "Switzerland" comes from marketing these day trips to tourists!). But cars become more widespread, mining dwindled, and expenses were high, so it was abandoned in 1919.

Because it was once a rail line, the grades are moderate. Some parts are a bit rocky, but much is smooth and fast. Vehicles are allowed on most sections, but traffic is very low. The scenery is sometimes stunning, with views of high peaks in all directions, aspen groves, and deep conifer forests.

Although this trail is great in either direction, many people just do sections of it as part of a larger ride. From south to north (as shown on the map):

Section 1: Highway 72 near Nederland to Sugarloaf Mountain Trailhead
This is the easiest section, with a fast downhill at first followed by nearly level grade near the end, all on very smooth surface. It's fast, fun, and has some nice scenery to the south about halfway through this section. Check out the Sugarloaf to Gordon Gulch Loop for a good ride using this section.

Section 2: Sugarloaf Mountain Trailhead to Sunset
This part drops 1,000 feet in 4 miles, and is quite steep, rockier, and rougher than other sections. Views to the north are excellent.

Section 3: Sunset to Gold Hill Road
A long climb (over 1,000) with remarkable views and interesting history. The railroad built a hotel and park called Mt. Alto park near the top of the climb to entertain tourists long ago.

Section 4: Gold Hill Road to Lefthand Canyon
This is my favorite section, which winds through forests and eventually becomes singletrack for the last mile. It's basically flat, which is remarkable given the mountainous surroundings. It has an unglorious ending with a short hike-a-bike up to Sawmill Road. You can actually find the continuation of this trail across the road, which has legal access for a little while longer, but then gets into private property (a real shame!), and then into hiker-only terrain.

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Check-Ins

May 23, 2020
agent-ochre
Full loop, ccw from Sugarloaf with Tyler. The climbs up Sawmill and Gold Hill roads were long, steep, and tough. Bring more food next time. 22.7mi — 3h 16m
Nov 16, 2019
Roma Velasco
Aug 24, 2019
Caitlin G
Quick morning ride 7mi
Aug 19, 2019
Jon Banks
Bikepacked from Ned to Ward. The final hike a bike section was unexpected and tough!
Aug 3, 2019
AJ Kwekel
Jul 28, 2019
Craig Hoffman
Sep 29, 2018
Kevin Hoffman
Perhaps since the 2013 flooding, the trail has gotten a lot rougher (even Section 1), with lots of rocks + loose dirt on most sections of the road. 24.1mi — 3h 01m
Sep 18, 2018
jeff.pechacek
24mi

Trail Ratings

  3.5 from 20 votes

#2

in Nederland

#5412

Overall
  3.5 from 20 votes
5 Star
10%
4 Star
30%
3 Star
55%
2 Star
5%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#2

in Nederland

#495

in Colorado

#5,412

Overall
537 Views Last Month
19,319 Since Jun 18, 2013
Easy

79%
0%
21%
0%
0%
0%

Photos

Do it for the views!
Jun 29, 2015 near Nederland, CO
The scenery from the Switzerland Trail is amazing!
Jun 10, 2017 near Nederland, CO
The Switzerland Trail near Sugarloaf Mountain.
Jun 10, 2017 near Nederland, CO
Hard to see, but way up there is a baby moose (that little black spot) - didn't want to get too close in case Mom was around.
Jun 10, 2017 near Nederland, CO
Great views of the taller mountains as you cruise down this mellow section of the Switzerland trail.
Jun 19, 2013 near Nederland, CO
Great scenery on this easy stretch
Jun 20, 2013 near Nederland, CO

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