Bikepacking the Colorado Trail by Train
Follow two riders as they hop on a historic narrow gauge train, to bikepack 80 miles of the best high altitude singletrack in Colorado. Right now the area is covered under several feet of snow, but it’s not too early to get inspired. To do the same weekend-friendly trip, check out our Trail Notes below for this segment of the Colorado Trail.
Diamondback’s Eric Porter planned a unique adventure to bike the famous Colorado Trail from Silverton to Durango – a burly 80 mile bikepack across several mountain passes at some serious elevation. To get to the trailhead, they commuted on the historic Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge train. With a crew consisting of Jess Pedersen, Mason Mashon (filmmaker), and Ben Gavelda (photographer), the foursome was eager to spend their days cruising through long autumn shadows, colorful leaves and views. Right now the trail is covered in several feet of snow, but come mid summer you could ride part or all of it as well. Check out their video for a little inspiration. Happy trails!
“I recommend this trip for anyone who’s into being out in the backcountry, and likes backpacking, but also likes biking. It’s a great way to get out, see the terrain and move faster…” – Jess Pedersen
Interested in doing the final 78-mile Colorado Trail segment featured in this film? Molas Pass to Durango is some of the very best bikepacking on the CT – and Colorado, for that matter. Some individuals ride this stretch in 15 long hours. But splitting it into 2 or even 3 nights means you can stop and enjoy the views. The terrain in the San Juans is a deliciously lush, craggy, rooty and rocky melange, interspersed with verdant meadows rolling far above timberline. Views into the deepest folds of the La Plata Mountains, a subrange of the San Juans, are as bold as anywhere in the world, streaked and saturated with mineral deposits, and scarred with babyhead strewn scree slopes. The climbs are protracted and test the mettle of even the hardiest riders. The descents – endlessly long and loping – could well inhabit a timewarp of their own. This is bikepacking at its very best; recent trail work means conditions are better than ever, with only short sections of hike ‘n biking required.
- The total elevation gain of this section is about 8,500 feet (2,591 meters).
- Camping opportunities are excellent, and water points abound.
- With elevations topping 13,271ft, this is a challenging, summer ride only.
- Watch out for rain and thunderstorms come the monsoon season; pack a full complement of rainproofs and layers for whatever time of the year you’re in the San Juans.
- Logistically, it’s easiest to shuttle out to Molas Pass Road, an hour’s drive from Durango, and ride back from there. Hermosa Tours offers a shuttle for $30 (minimum 3 people).
- The historic Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge, which will drop you in Silverton, just 13 miles north of Molas Pass for an alternative start point. It costs $104 per person.
- When you roll into Durango, be sure to hang out at Bread, the best bakery in town and a magnet for local riders.
- View the full Colorado Trail route and GPS Map.