“A fantastic, singletrack loop ride from the Tennessee Pass area to Camp Hale.”
— Cooper Mallozzi
Wait until it's dry... Additional regulations as apply to USFS land and the Colorado Trail.
This is a great 20+ mile ride - one of the best in the area. This can be looped, out-and-backed, or shuttled from either Camp Hale or Crane Park/Tennessee Pass area.
This description and map is for the loop from Crane Park just north of Leadville. The most fun route is to descend from Crane Park/Tennessee Pass area down to Camp Hale; however, you have to make that happen.
Any loop involves a good climb. The one described is the "mellower" version. The out-and-back IS all singletrack, but also much more effort.
Need to Know
This route is best ridden after the solstice to avoid super muddy sections. Always beware of hikers...they are plentiful.
Park at Crane Park/Webster's Gravel Pit Road a 1/2 mile south of Ski Cooper on Hwy 24. Park immediately on the left upon entering road.
From the parking area, ride up the primarily dirt road for approximately one mile to the top of hill. DON'T DESCEND. Turn right onto Wurtz Ditch Road and follow it for about 1/3 mile where Colorado Trail crosses. Turn RIGHT onto the Colorado Trail singletrack. Go across two bridges and ride up/down the flowing trail for three miles to the Tennessee Pass parking lot.
Turn left, past the outhouse, to a continuation of the Colorado Trail along Wurtz Ditch. Cruise slightly downhill for several miles on a mix of single/doubletrack to the Colorado Trail descent on the right. This is a FAST downhill (beware of hikers) into Mitchell Creek for a mile, then ride along the drainage bottom to a bridge over a creek and then some railroad tracks.
Cross the tracks and head up the road. Cross Hwy 24 to continue on the Colorado Trail. There is a steep climb and then it's mostly descending for several miles to a fire road. Cross the fire road (but note it) to continue on the Colorado Trail down to Camp Hale flats.
From here, you can turn around and climb back (a grunt), or go straight on a dirt road to an intersection. Turn right and follow for just under a mile to an intersection with a bridge on the right. Head right over the bridge and follow a mellow fire road (same one you crossed) for 2+ miles all the way back to Hwy 24.
Ride up (south) Hwy 24 for 1/4 mile to where you crossed it originally near railroad tracks and follow the descent route back up the Colorado Trail, to Wurtz Ditch Road, back to the Tennessee Pass parking lot. Turn right up the stairs/trail to continue on the Colorado Trail back toward Crane Park and return to the parking area.
You can also incorporate the Mitchell Creek Trail/Loop into this ride.
History & Background
Camp Hale has a robust history worth exploring. It was the former training ground for 10th Mtn Division.