Amazing views, challenging technical sections, lots of climbing, technical descents and good old fashioned hiking make this a great ride.
A common trail for dirt bikes / motorcycles, which has an impact on the dirt quality in dry conditions. The steepness of the grades aren't necessarily designed for mountain biking.
Super awesome views and backcountry the entire way. One short sandy section.
Water crossings, bugs, exposure.
Descending into Brighton on Catherine's Pass should be done very carefully due to hiker traffic. The recommendation is to time it away from peak hiker traffic loads, early morning, late evening, and definitely not on a Saturday.
We did this section of the Great Western Trail
from south to north, starting at the Alpine Summit trailhead near Sundance Resort. It was predominantly singletrack the entire way with a few sections of dirt road and a paved climb up to the crest connector.
Over the course of 30+ miles there are many steep climbs and technical descents, all of which are easily manageable by themselves however collectively will add up to a lot of calorie burn if you attempt to ride the entire length, which will be roughly 6,000 feet of ascending. You can add about 800 feet of climbing if you decide to ascend Ant Knolls Ridge
, however we took the western route skipping the ascent. Shortly after that, the ascent to the top of Catherine's Pass heading north begins, which has very steep sections of trail necessitating significant time out of the saddle.
The back side of Catherine's is about 1600 feet of climbing within a mile and a half. Due to this rapid ascending we were questioning our approach of taking this trail north. Nevertheless, you'll descend more than you ascend the only thing that is in question really boils down to the quality of your descents.
Part of the Great Western Trail