“Stunning alpine scenery on extremely steep singletrack.
— Nick Wilder
WARNING: This trail has HUGE high alpine exposure. Several miles are above 12,000'. This is not the place to take your buddy visiting from low altitude... or if there is any question of thunderstorms... or if you lack enthusiasm to suffer and hike your bike a good bit! This is a big, high-mountain adventure and will take much longer than its 8 miles might suggest.
From the trailhead on McCullough Gulch Road (well past the Quandary Peak trailhead), start off with grueling climb on moderately rough surface for about half a mile. Some people will be able to ride parts of this, but most of us get hypoxic after 30 feet. The final grunt is a staircase that everyone will hike. Turn back around at this point and admire 14,265' Quandary Peak right in your face. If you look closely on a clear day, you'll see hordes of people on the summit ridge.
The painful climb pays right off though - the next section gently descends through beautiful forest carpeted with green woodruff for over a mile. You pop out at Miner's Creek Trail with views of beaver ponds and 13,000' mountains all around. Continue on fast fun singletrack past Spruce Creek and enjoy a couple miles of superb singletrack just below treeline. Come to a road intersection and take a break for the big hill ahead.
The next stretch climbs almost 1,500 feet in a little over a mile. It's butter smooth, but you'd have to have lungs and legs beyond human norms to ride it. Hoof it up to a spectacular ridge and enjoy huge views in all directions.
The next few miles cross high alpine tundra-like terrain that is often quite wet. Don't damage the trail. It's relatively flat but moderately technical through these sections. The views of the ten mile range are unbeatable!
One final climb of a few switchback will take you to a saddle between Peak 8 and 9. All of a sudden you'll have views of the other side of the range, extending from Copper Mountain to the Gore Range. Soak in the views and then cruise down a couple miles on steep terrain until the trail intersects the Colorado Trail at the Miner's Creek Trail junction on the right of the trail. Continue past Miner's Creek Trail down to Copper Mountain. Cross a bridge to a parking lot.