If the normal Canyon Creek Trail loop isn't hard enough, this point-to-point option is for you.”
— Matt Giaraffa
You get the same epic singletrack descent of going down all 3000' feet of the Canyon Creek Trail
, but this route option is a point-to-point starting in Alpine, CO going over several ~12,000' passes with epic views along the way.
The Canyon Creek Trail
descent features 3000' of singletrack descending, all in one big shot. While the typical route is a loop starting from the Snowblind campground, this route features climbing Tomichi Pass (CO 888) up to the Canyon Creek Trail
This ride is a way to increase your suffering as a point-to-point from the small town of Alpine, CO up to the ghost mining town of St. Elmo, up to another ghost mining town, Hancock, over Hancock Pass, over Tomichi Pass, and then linking up to the Canyon Creek Trail
This ride is harder than the mileage and climbing suggest, since all of the steep climbs are over 11,000', so make sure you can do the normal Tomichi Pass (Co Rd 888) to Canyon Creek Loop
first, and you'll feel like you can do even more high elevation climbing yet.
Need to Know
Bring many calories to consume, roughly 1 million of them. A water filter is recommended as there are many creeks to refill water bottles. Bring clothing options for high altitude storms; you're up at high elevation with little cover for hours.
To access this ride, start at the parking area for the Baldwin Creek 4x4 Road (FS 277) adjacent to the sign for Alpine, CO and head west on County Road 162 (Chalk Creek Dr.)
Turn left onto Forest Road #295
as it continues south out of St. Elmo.
From St. Elmo to Hancock, this railroad grade, dirt road climb is pretty mild, but when you start heading up Hancock Pass, the ride turn onto Forest Road #299
, which is a steeper, rougher 4X4 road, and that's when you're done with anything easy.
Hancock Pass is pretty much a wind tunnel, so be prepared for cold wind blasts. From the top of the pass, descend the other side on Forest Road #839
and make sure to turn left at the bottom onto Tomichi Pass Road ( Forest Road #888
That's another 4x4 road with epic views, passing some old mines. Once at the top of Tomichi, descend towards the Canyon Creek Trail
and look out for the singletrack on the right not far down. Take the singletrack and prepare for the pain. My GPS device was claiming a 58% grade hike-a-bike at around 12,000' going up Granite Mountain.
Once at the top, look back towards the two passes you just crossed, and brace for some epic descending. After dropping 3000', there's one more kick to the pants with a 300' climb at the very end just in case you had any energy left. The ride ends at the Snowblind campground.
History & Background
Back in the late 1800's, when Alpine, St. Elmo, and Hancock were booming mining towns, a railroad came up CR 162, and up through the Alpine Tunnel. Look for relics of old railroad tracks, and enjoy the 3% grade climb while it lasts.