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The Alpine Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.3 (4) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A classic high-elevation route with great history and amazing views.


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Map Key

50.9

Miles

82.0

KM

0%

Singletrack

12,967' 3,952 m

High

8,685' 2,647 m

Low

6,023' 1,836 m

Up

6,015' 1,833 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (3°)

28%

Max Grade (16°)

Dogs Unknown

E-Bikes Allowed

Features Commonly Bikepacked

Closed in winter, usually open June-September.

Overview

The Alpine Loop ascends two high-elevation passes between Lake City and Silverton. It is mainly composed of Jeep/UTV roads, but it provides a quality mountain biking experience as well.

Need to Know

There are no potable water/food stops along the route except for in Lake City, so plan accordingly.

Description

The Alpine Loop is a long ride with significant elevation and exposure above treeline. It is about 90% dirt road, 20% of which is rough enough to require vehicles with 4-wheel drive and clearance. You are bound to encounter numerous UTVs and jeeps, but the views and exposure make it a worthy adventure.

The Loop takes you over two passes (Cinnamon and Engineer) between Lake City and Silverton. It can be accessed from Lake City, Silverton (via CR 2) or Ouray (via CR 17 off of Red Mountain Pass). The described route starts and ends in Lake City.

Leave Lake City going south. Take the well-marked turn towards Lake San Cristobal on County Road 30. Continue the long, beautiful climb up to Cinnamon Pass at 12,600' on Cinnamon Pass Road. Descend steeply towards Animas Forks and then begin climbing again to the north and east on County Road 2, Engineer Pass Road until you reach Engineer Pass at 12,800'. From Engineer Pass, it is a long, fast descent back to Lake City tying into County Road 20. The route is very well signed.

The Loop can be done counter-clockwise as well. An early start is recommended due to the risks of afternoon thunderstorms and Jeep/UTV traffic.

History & Background

There are a number of historic mining sites and towns along the route.

Shared By:

Tim Judkins with improvements by Richard Hackett

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 4 votes

#1

in Lake City

#2010

Overall
  4.3 from 4 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Lake City

#288

in Colorado

#2,010

Overall
148 Views Last Month
5,067 Since Jul 18, 2018
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

On the way to Cinnamon Pass.
Jul 18, 2018 near Lake City, CO
The steep climb with American Basin in the background.
Aug 25, 2019 near Ouray, CO
The view towards Silverton at Animas Forks.
Aug 25, 2019 near Ouray, CO
The descent to Animas Forks.
Aug 25, 2019 near Ouray, CO
The valley below American Basin.
Aug 25, 2019 near Lake City, CO
The climb up Engineer Pass.
Aug 25, 2019 near Ouray, CO

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Check-Ins

Sep 5, 2020
Anna West
Saturday to Sunday overnight bikepck. Camped in Animas Forks.