“An epic, above-tree-line traverse south on the CDT from Jones Pass to the Herman Gulch trailhead.”
— Tom McKim
A snowfield lingers much, if not all, of the summer on top of Jones Pass preventing motor vehicles, and presenting quite a challenge for bikers to get over.
One of the most spectacular, moderately accessible, often ignored, above tree line singletrack rides you'll ever find! The views off the CDT are unrivaled, and the feeling of being on top of the world is unlike any other.
Fitness and experience pushing/carrying your bike up rocky trails is crucial. The only drawback is that this trail is built and maintained for hiking, so biking it presents many rock challenges throughout.
Need to Know
Be prepared for high alpine exposure with no bailouts other than to turn back - this is extreme, self-supported riding on top of the world! This route could be ridden either direction, but a sense of fun would tell you to ride it in a southerly direction. Leave a car at the Herman Gulch trailhead west of Georgetown, CO on I-70.
There are multiple excellent places along the Jones Pass Rd off Highway 40 west of Empire before the first switchback on Berthoud Pass to camp and start this ride from. Continue following the Jones Pass Road as camping options present themselves nearly all the way to the top. A shuttle is necessary to complete the ride, or you could ride the road...
Jones Pass Road is miles of flat, then some steep twisting, smooth jeep road. It has excellent views of the West Fork Clear Creek drainage. Tons of camping and parking options along the whole road, nearly all the way to the top.
A ride to the top and back is possible with a great payoff at the apex. For others, continue south on the Continental Divide Trail, riding, pushing and carry your bike as necessary. At its high point, you'll be at 13,209 feet.
The second half of this journey is more or less all downhill. From the divide, pristine singletrack awaits you with very little foot traffic! Unbelievable views, scenery, and trail unfolds until the junction with the Herman Gulch Trail
. Turn left to finish the downhill run to the second car (that you left there the night before). This section of trail is very popular for hiking and especially families. It's quite rooty and rocky, but rides very well!