ElevationAscent: 7,400' 2,255 m
Descent: -7,426' -2,264 m
High: 13,205' 4,025 m
Low: 8,581' 2,615 m
GradeAvg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 40% (22°)
Popular rides nearby
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10.9 mi 17.5 km • Loop • 1,495 ft Ascent 455.7 m Ascent
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“An extremely challenging, yet rewarding, primitive backcountry adventure.”— Nolan van Harte
Begin your ride in the early morning, starting in the town of Empire.There is usually sufficient parking at Theobold Park near the Police Station. Head up US40 towards Jones Pass. Expect car traffic up until you take a left on 202 Henderson Mine Road. The road is paved up to the Henderson Mine. Merge right onto Jones Pass Road and continue up the dirt road all the way to the CDT. This road is in pretty good condition and never gets too steep. There is a cornice almost year-round at the top of the pass, so you may have to get creative.
Once you reach the Continental Divide Trail, this is where the real fun begins. Check out the CDT - Jones Pass to Herman Gulch Trail for a more descriptive summary of this portion of the ride. A few miles past the cornice you'll reach the high point at about 13,200' making for an excellent spot to take in the views and eat some lunch. Continue down into Herman Gulch, which eventually connects with the Herman Gulch Trail. Otherwise, take a left and continue down the drainage. This trail is usually busy with hikers and dogs, and features blown out singletrack with some nice smooth sections as well as some rooty, technical sections. Near the bottom you'll come to an intersection with Watrous Gulch Trail #95, take this left. THIS IS YOUR ONLY BAIL-OUT POINT. You need to decide if the weather will hold out for another few hours, and if you have enough water, food, and energy. The most difficult and slow-going portion of the ride starts here.
Watrous Gulch Trail is a challenging technical climb with a few steeper hike-a-bike sections. As you near treeline, this trail crosses the stream and intersects with the beginning of Bard Creek Trail #83. Take this right.
Bard Creek Trail is primitive to say the least, and will quickly turn into steep hike-a-bike with 11 miles of extreme exposure to weather and steep hillsides. Due to minimal traffic, the trail will disappear here and there; look for cairns and use the MTB Project mobile app to stay on track. After descending into Bard Creek, the trail will eventually turn into a rowdy Forest Service Road 777, and then County Road 252 (South Empire Pass Road). Follow this back into town.
Grab some much needed food at one of the few local spots to support the small town of Empire.
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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Dogs Allowed, Electic Mountain Bikes Allowed, History & Background