The 5,000-foot descent from Kennebec Pass to Durango on the final day of this singletrack smorgasbord lasts three glorious hours. Think about that: Three hours. But for riders on Rim Tours’ five-day trip, that’s only one of the many mind-bending moments on a 100-mile adventure along some of the state’s best high-altitude trails.
The journey begins with a warm up on the popular Hermosa Creek Trail, then promptly climbs Molas Pass to the Colorado Trail, where riders spend the next four days. “It’s the most challenging supported ride most people will ever do,” says Rim Tours co-founder Matt Hebberd. “You’ll camp at 11,000 feet or higher.” But you don’t have to fend for yourself up there; Rim Tours’ support vehicle meets riders each afternoon to deliver creature comforts at backcountry campsites. (And they’ll rent you everything from sleeping pads to Yeti 575 full-suspension trail bikes, so if you don’t own it, ask.)
What’s a typical day like on the Colorado Trail? Tear into plates of French toast, breakfast burritos, fresh fruit and sip cowboy coffee. Follow three expert guides out on six hours of remote alpine singletrack. Stop to take in high-altitude landscape festooned with wildflowers and question-your-significance views of the San Juan Mountains. Arrive at next campsite.
Each night, the guides morph into cooks and concierges, offering you warm washcloths and dinners featuring the likes of pork tenderloin with wasabi mashed potatoes, washed down with cold suds in front of a crackling fire.
Length of trip: 5 days
Best Time to Go: July-August
The full route (mapped here) starts in the plains (at Chatfield State Park, 20 miles south of Denver) and serves up several days of stiff climbing as you enter the mountains. Plunge into dense Ponderosa pine forest in the Lost Creek Wilderness—the first of six wilderness areas the CT traverses—before crossing the Continental Divide at 10,800 feet, just above Georgia Pass. This is the start of a high-alpine tour de force–including 38 consecutive miles above treeline–that lasts until your final descent some 300 miles later.
PLAN IT: Go to coloradotrail.org to find The Colorado Trail: The Official Guidebook of the Colorado Trail Foundation ($25), The Colorado Trail Databook ($12), and The Colorado Trail Map Book ($49), which includes GPS waypoints.
-GPS data provided by the Colorado Trail Foundation