Features: Commonly Bikepacked
The end of the Plateau Passage is not far away, but a few stunning, tall, and jagged mountain ranges stand between Nucla and Durango. Segment 6 begins with a 4,000-foot climb to the crest of the Uncompahgre Plateau on a mix of more Paradox Trail
singletrack, gravel roads, and 4x4 tracks.
Once on the crest, the gravel Divide Road brings riders southeast toward the mighty San Juan Mountains. A brief descent to near the town of Ridgeway runs along the base of the Sneffels Range, and nestled at the base of these craggy peaks is the amazing mountain singletrack of the Dallas Trail. At the east end of the trail is the little town of Ouray, deep in one of the scenic valleys that earned this area the nickname of the American Alps. Ouray offers basic resupply options, restaurants, and lodging.
Beyond Ouray, more steep climbing awaits. It begins with a few miles on the scenic Highway 550 before aiming toward the sky and Engineer Pass on rough, busy 4x4 roads. Just before Engineer Pass proper, the route turns south and descends a steadily-improving gravel road to the old mining community of Silverton. Then the climbing resumes.
Pavement leads to dirt road leads to a 4x4 track leads to an old pack trail climbing to the summit of Rolling Mountain Pass at over 12,000 feet above sea level, the high point of the Plateau Passage. More singletrack follows, including the well-known Engineer Mountain Trail descent near Purgatory Resort. A short dirt road climb leads to the ~20-mile-long Hermosa Creek Trail, and from the south end of that trail, there is a mere 20 miles of pavement to reach Durango, the end of Segment 6 and the eastern terminus of the Plateau Passage.
Really ambitious riders may opt to begin the Colorado Trail in Durango and continue another 485 miles to Denver through the heart of the Colorado Rockies. But wrapping up the 1,200+ miles of the Plateau Passage will stand as in incredible accomplishment in and of itself.