Dirty Copper Triangle
ElevationAscent: 5,379' 1,639 m
Descent: -5,366' -1,635 m
High: 12,260' 3,737 m
Low: 9,251' 2,820 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 26% (15°)
Popular rides nearby
Rendezvous Lift Out-and-Back
9.8 mi 15.8 km • Point to Point • 1,970 ft Ascent 600.43 m Ascent
Colorado Trail: Copper Mountain to Searle Pass
19.3 mi 31.1 km • Loop • 2,773 ft Ascent 845.15 m Ascent
Rock Island to Galena Ditch
21.9 mi 35.3 km • Loop • 2,392 ft Ascent 729.13 m Ascent
Breckenridge Ski Resort
13.4 mi 21.6 km • Loop • 1,759 ft Ascent 536.17 m Ascent
Peak 9-Wheeler-Spruce-Burro Loop
14.0 mi 22.6 km • Loop • 3,040 ft Ascent 926.44 m Ascent
Classic Breckenridge Route
12.0 mi 19.3 km • Point to Point • 1,048 ft Ascent 319.49 m Ascent
“Dirt version of the Copper Triangle”— D L
Electric Mountain Bikes Unknown
The Latitude 40, Vail and Eagle, Recreational Topo Map is a great resource for this ride as it covers the entire route. The ride spans two Ranger Districts: Holy Cross and Dillon within the White River National Forest. Free maps are available at WRNF offices.
Need to Know
The Colorado Trail: Copper Mountain to Camp Hale is an awesome, unique ride; however the last mile to Camp Hale is loose, and quite steep.
Resolution Mountain Rd. is a popular 4WD road, with lots of traffic. Couple this with a brutal 5.5 mile climb averaging over 10% grade for the top 2.5 miles, and the final 1.5 miles at nearly 14% can make this final climb frustrating.
The final 3.5 miles, and 600' of descent utilizes paved bike path, which can feel discouraging after the effort put in to get there. Alternatively, extremely adventurous riders may choose to descend the Wearyman Road #747.1 (read the details first!) and then climb up the vehicle road at the bottom.
The CT throughout Colorado is well marked. Copper Mountain is no different. The CT winds for about 1 1/4mi through Copper Mountain before exiting the ski area, passing through a forested area. The trail descends briefly, crossing Guller Creek, then climbs roughly parallel to the creek for 2 3/4mi. From here the CT switches back to the north and begins to climb above Janet's Cabin. After 1/4mi and another switchback the CT clears timberline. From this point to a mile below Kokomo Pass, the ride stays above timberline; which means exposure.
Continue south for another 1 1/4 over a mostly rideable section of trail to Searl Pass. At the pass enjoy the views, a snack, and a well-deserved break. This is also a good point to turn around if weather conditions, or physical fitness are questionable; bearing in mind that the ride back to Copper Mountain is 7 miles and incorporates a short climb back into the ski area boundary.
The CT between Searl and Kokomo Passes is a very unique, timberline traverse, punctuated with short, stinger climbs. The ride high point is 1/2 mile east of Kokomo Pass. Again, offering stunning views to the south and Climax Mine; and a second opportunity to assess conditions and fitness. This is the ride commitment point.
Descend 1/2 mile to Kokomo Pass, and continue a blistering 5 mile descent to Camp Hale. There are absolutely stunning views to the west of the Holy Cross Ridgeline including Mountain of the Holy Cross in the first mile below Kokomo Pass.
3.5 miles below Kokomo Pass, cross Cataract Creek. Below this crossing the trail becomes pretty steep and loose, so get that butt behind the saddle. A mile below the creek crossing bottom out at the southeastern corner of Camp Hale on road 714, East Fork Eagle Road. Go right on the road, then turn right back onto the CT singletrack. The CT parallels 714 for 2/3 mile before dropping back down to the road. This is where the ride deviates from the CT and is also the ride midpoint.
Follow 714 along the eastern edge of Camp Hale, passing 755, Ranch Creek Road on the right after 1/2 mile, as well as numerous roads to the left comprising the grid of roads that was Camp Hale. After 2 1/4 miles intersect Resolution Mountain Road #702 at a well-defined intersection. Turn right and begin the final climb of the day. Be prepared to share the road with numerous off-road vehicles as you climb.
There are three distinct road intersections along this climb: the first near the bottom with 708, McAllister Gulch Road on the left; the second 715, Pearl Creek Road on the right at 1 1/2 miles; and the last 751, Ptarmigan Road above timberline on the left, 1/2 mile from the summit of Ptarmigan Pass.
Top out at Ptarmigan Pass, and exalt in the fact that you've made it to the top and the remainder of the ride is downhill. Finding Wilder Gulch Trail from Ptarmigan Pass is the only real wayfinding along this ride. Wilder Gulch Trail is 3/4 miles from the summit of the pass, on the right side of the road in a sweeping left turn. The trail begins in a meadow, over timbers that have been piled to prevent motorcycles entering the trail.
Wilder Gulch Trail does not receive heavy traffic, giving it a primitive feel. Descend 2 1/4 miles in the meadow along Wilder Gulch to an intersection with Wilder Gulch Connector. Turn right and descend to Vail Pass to Copper Bike Path. Turn right and coast down to the parking lot. Drink beer!
History & Background
Camp Hale, between Red Cliff and Leadville in the Eagle River valley in Colorado, was a U.S. Army training facility constructed in 1942 for what became the 10th Mountain Division. It was named for General Irving Hale.
Soldiers were trained in mountain climbing, Alpine and Nordic skiing, cold-weather survival as well as various weapons and ordnance. When it was in full operation, approximately 15,000 soldiers were housed there.
The creation of an elite ski corps was a national effort, with assistance from the National Association of Ski Patrol, local ski clubs, and Hollywood. Enough men were recruited to create three army regiments, which were deployed after training. Camp Hale was decommissioned in November 1945.
Land Manager: USFS - White River National Forest Office