ElevationAscent: 1,753' 534 m
Descent: -1,753' -534 m
High: 12,687' 3,867 m
Low: 11,442' 3,488 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 17% (10°)
Current trail conditions
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“An out-and-back that hits some incomparable views of southwest Colorado from a 12706' vantage point.”— Ted Stroll
You have to ford a stream shortly afterward, and this should be attempted only in a four-wheel drive vehicle with sufficient clearance. At certain times of the year, it could be impassable by motor vehicle. In this case, however, you could park, wade through the water if it's safe, and ride up eight miles to where this ride starts, for a total of 16 miles each way with about 4,000 feet of climbing.
If you make it across in your four-wheel drive, high-clearance car, you should be set, because there weren't any more streams to cross when I did this ride. Drive up eight miles to the Bristol HeadCrystal Lake junction. Park there. You're now at the starting point. Ride south on the dirt road to Bristol Head.
As you approach Bristol Head, you'll start climbing steadily. About a half-mile of the climb is rough and rocky, and I found myself walking most of it. I could descend it with no problem, though.
Once you clear the rocky, rough section the road becomes rideable again. Ride up to the transmission towers. There you'll find fantastic views in all directions. You're on a promontory that's perhaps 4,000 feet above the valley floor and in places you're looking almost straight down to the Santa Mara Reservoir, a beautiful body of water. You can look west toward the San Juan Mountains, North to Snow Mesa and Baldy Cinco, and east past Creede into the San Luis Valley and the Sangre de Cristo range, dozens of miles away. A distinctive peak to the northwest is the Rio Grande Pyramid.
Biked this trail?
We need help with the following missing trail information:
Need to Know, Features, E-Bikes Allowed
Local Club: Taos Mountain Bike Association (TMBA)
May 27, 2019: Better Trails in June
May 9, 2019: The TMBA Stoker – May 2019 Newsletter
Land Manager: USFS - Rio Grande National Forest Office
Jun 27, 2019: Willow Creek fire on the Rio Grande National Forest