Read why Michelle thinks Kenosha to Georgia Pass is one of the best mountain bike rides Colorado has to offer.
Fall is the season to keep on riding and there are some epic rides to be had. The great thing about post season riding is you can go big, go long, but don’t have to suffer the training pace of race season. Kenosha to Georgia pass offers spectacular views, almost 4000 feet of climbing, technical single track, and a view like no other into Breckenridge from the top at 11,600 feet. This is a MUST DO RIDE and by far one of my top 5 best rides in Colorado.
You start this ride on the top of Kenosha pass with about 300 other people and some tour busses if it’s the weekend. Colorado is amazing in the fall and everyone is out. Be patient and polite (especially to those families with small kids…they may become future riders because they thought you were so nice and awesome as you rode by). Be at ease knowing after about 2 miles the crowds thin out and all you will run into is extreme hikers, runners and mountain bike enthusiasts. This is where the fun starts!
After leaving the parking lot you will climb for about 1.5 miles and gain a hill top view of the valley.
Amazing and spectacular is all I have to say as you start the first decent into the valley. We enjoyed the next 5 miles of single track as it winded its way through the aspen forests alive with colors, the trees almost look on fire from above. The trail had some punchy climbs, 2 small bridge crossings (aka…large boards) that you can dare each other to ride. I made my husband go first on the first board crossing and then didn’t have the desire to end up in the creek only at mile 3 so I walked that one but the second one is a breeze. This is the part of the trail that makes you smile, coming or going, with smooth fun descents mixed with some climbs to keep you warm. Spectacular and having some serious fun.
Approximately at mile 6.5 we cross a fire road and a good size river and head up towards Georgia pass. This is where the climbing and technical riding begins. For the next 6 or so miles we climbed, climbed, climbed, and gained the majority of our assent to the top. The trail starts out in what looks to be an old river bed filled with roots and rocks and then makes some significant elevation gain in the first 2 miles. Pacing yourself is the key or better yet put whoever the group calls the mountain goat out front and chase them to the top. I put my husband out front for a while just to watch his lines and I was determined not to let him get away. You will find the trail littered with riders who are out of breath, whose legs are burning, or those in need a nap half way up. A great spot to stop is a lookout at or around mile 8.5 or 9. This is a popular place to stop for a snack or rest and if you walk out on the rocks the view is great.
From this spot it is 2.5 to 3 miles to the top and this is when you start to feel the elevation and the temperature cools down a bit. Make sure you always pack a light coat or warmers. Even on the warmest days in the valley you will be chilly on top. The last 20 minutes before the top will open up into the mountain tundra landscape that is spectacular. The trail is small and layered in fine gravel and rocks that can make the best climber work for it at this elevation. You come to a junction….don’t stop here, veer left and head to the top. If you stop you may never get the energy to go to the top so just keep going. Get to the top, throw yourself on the ground and soak up the most amazing view while you eat and take a slew of pictures. Something you NEVER get to do during the training and race season….so enjoy every minute of it! I was jealous of the gal on top who was packing the most amazing P & J sandwich with banana in it. I think I was hungry and my little bar wasn’t doing the trick.
We have always wanted to find the time and change to just keep riding the Colorado trail right into Breckenridge but that will be another story. It sure is tempting when up on top.
Now the fun begins! We turned around and instead of heading back the way we came (traditionally this ride is an out and back) we took a left turn back at the intersection and headed down the Jefferson trail. This trail ends up back at the fire road you crossed on the way up. Jefferson trail is a hold on tight; see your life flash before your eyes kind of trail. I had to stop a third of the way down and just send out a hoot of laughter in amazement I had not gone down, hit a tree, or run off the trail. This trail is tight, steep, and technical but a ridiculous amount of fun. This year they actually chain sawed all the down trees that were on the trail last year so the fun factor went up significantly when you can avoid multiple hike a bike sections over huge downed trees.
We ended up at the campsite on the fire road and headed towards the trail that would take us back to Kenosha pass. Back into the beautiful aspen forests for a fast ride through the single track and this is where you can pick up some speed and a smile. The last climb out is a bit of leg breaker since you hit mile 20 at this point and it is up, up, up and you have about 4-5 miles to go! Knowing this was one of our last epic rides of the season we soaked in the views which reminds us why we ride! Get out there and enjoy the post riding season.