“A classic high-elevation route with great history and amazing views.”
— Tim Judkins
Closed in winter, usually open June-September.
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.
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.