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An extremely challenging, yet rewarding, primitive backcountry adventure.

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13,205' 4,025 m


8,581' 2,615 m


7,400' 2,255 m


7,426' 2,264 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (22°)

Dogs Unknown

E-Bikes Not Allowed

Features Hike-a-bike · Technical · Views

Year-round cornice at the top of Jones Pass. Only attempt mid to late summer depending on the previous winter.


A type 2 fun experience that will challenge even the most fit and experienced riders. Expect most of the climbs on Bard Creek Trail to be bike-a-hike.

Need to Know

Vault Toilet at Herman Gulch TH


This ride and experience is dedicated to those who have lost their lives doing what they love in the Colorado backcountry.

The route is also known as the Devil on the Divide 50k ultra-endurance running race.

Begin your ride in the early morning, starting in the town of Empire. You can park 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. You can park at the base of Jones Pass road if you choose to shuttle it, leaving a car in Empire too. Mind the almost year-round cornice that exists at the top of the pass.

Once you reach the Continental Divide Trail, expect sections of flow and technical climbing/hike-a-bike along the ridge with sections of decent exposure. A few miles past the cornice you'll reach the high point at about 13,200'. Continue down into Herman Gulch, which eventually connects with the Herman Gulch Trail. Watch out for hikers along this trail, and expect fast flow and awkward 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. If you choose to bail, you can cross under the highway and ride the bike path down into Georgetown. You can either do the short climb up Old Georgetown Road (cross under the hwy, follow the dirt road along I70, which turns unto singletrack) to connect into Empire, or ride past Georgetown on the roads into Empire.

*If you begin up Watrous Gulch Trail and the beginning of Bard Creek Trail and realize that this type of experience is not your cup of tea, TURN AROUND. I promise you, it only gets harder the farther you get into Bard. Bard is hard, remember this.

Watrous Gulch Trail is a challenging, pedal-striky, 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, 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 often disappear; look for cairns and use your map to stay on track. Prepare for lots of bike-a-hike and type 2 fun. One section comes to mind where the trail is eroded and you'll have to shoulder your bike and navigate a steep loose hillside with no sign of a trail. After reaching the last high-point of the day, the descent into Bard Creek makes it all worth it. One of the best and most unique primitive descents in the area, with no easy way to get to it. The trail will eventually turn into a bombing fast Forest Service Road 777, and then County Road 252 (South Empire Pass Road). Follow this back into town.

It's proven that beer tastes better after completing this ride, and let the type 2 fun sink in.

If you had a type 3 fun experience, I'm sorry but you simply missed the point.


Shared By:

Nolan van Harte with improvements by Liz

Trail Ratings

  3.5 from 6 votes


  3.5 from 6 votes
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in Colorado


20 Views Last Month
4,512 Since Aug 31, 2019
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Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Jul 21, 2023
Isaiah Wier-March
Sadistic fun! 38.1mi — 9h 00m
Aug 8, 2020
Brian Baker
Completely dry trail, except for a small snow cornice to overcome at the top of Jones Pass Road.

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