“The western half of the route including the Colorado Trail and some big summits.”
— Bikepacking Roots
This has been hidden from our maps to prevent overlap with existing trails, or because
our research has found there is no legal access.
Riding the 14ers along this loop is a fringe activity that, as of the summer of 2016, was permitted by the US Forest Service on all the peaks included on this route. Continued access by mountain bike is tenuous, so it is of paramount importance that mountain bikers exercise the utmost respect and kindness toward hikers and horse riders on these trails, and practice conscious mountain Leave No Trace skills.
With Salida at your back, pavement and dirt roads lead to the base of the towering peaks to the west, specifically Mt. Shavano. The Colorado Trail singletrack picks up where the road ends and heads north toward Buena Vista. The trail is winding, flowing, and traverses the eastern flank of the Collegiate Peaks without any prolonged climbs. Stream crossings and aspen groves are frequent, good camping spots are abundant, and other trail users tend to be very friendly.
The first of the semi-rideable 14ers along the route is Mt. Shavano, the toughest of them all. The trail heads up a 4,300-foot climb in under three miles, and the descent is relentless and incredibly technical riding. The next 14er north is Mount Antero, and the route up is far more gradual, but still quite steep at times. The climb follows a mixture of singletrack and mine roads, and the most enjoyable trail down is entirely swoopy singletrack.
From above Buena Vista, the route leaves the Colorado Trail and takes the most direct dirt route to town. Eat up and resupply before heading north on a quiet dirt road along the Arkansas River. You’ll rejoin the Colorado Trail at Clear Creek Reservoir and follow it north to Twin Lakes. Beyond Twin Lakes, the Colorado Trail gets a bit more rugged, before a few miles of dirt road and pavement delivers you to the high-elevation town of Leadville.
Along the stretch of trail between Buena Vista and Leadville, the options for Mounts Huron and Elbert strike off to the west. Mt. Huron offers a steep, rocky ascent at the end of a long dirt road. Mt. Elbert, the tallest in Colorado, sits just off the Colorado Trail, and the trail offers some of the most breathtaking riding of any of the 14ers on this route. But beware of all the other trail users on this popular peak.