The high country that encircles Telluride is home to stunning high-alpine basins, stark mountain passes, splashy river crossings, interesting mining artifacts, wildflower-strewn fields and some of the most breathtaking views in Colorado.
The high country that encircles Telluride is home to stunning high-alpine basins, stark mountain passes, splashy river crossings, interesting mining artifacts, wildflower-strewn fields and some of the most breathtaking views in Colorado. But getting there by mountain bike takes a huge amount of work. Most of the trails around here were built for mining exploration, not for the benefit of a smooth ride, and riding them entails a substantial amount of pain.
Lucky for us, there is Wasatch Connection. By catching a lift up the gondola on the Telluride Ski Resort, Wasatch Connection enables riders to access the rugged high country (the high point is near 12,000 feet) that soars above Telluride without the suffering of starting from town. Not that it’s an easy route by any means; riders still have to put in a grueling ascent on fire roads and single track to gain Gold Hill Ridge, and the descent entails highly exposed switchbacks through scree fields.
What Makes It Great
This 2,000-foot climb takes riders up and over Gold Hill Ridge and into Upper Bear Creek Basin, a glorious place strewn with fields of fireweed and precipitous cliffs, alpine creeks and verdant fields. It’s tricky riding that requires intense focus and, depending on the level of rider, a good amount of hike-a-biking, but it’s so damn pretty that it’ll make you amnesic to the pain. Plus it comes with quite a bit more downhill than up.
Who is Going to Love It
Seasoned, strong and adventurous cross-country riders who don’t require manicured trails to have a good time. Full-face-helmet gravity riders who don’t mind a slog to get to the goods. And fit cyclists who want a taste of the San Juan backcountry. It’s dog-friendly and free.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Ride to the gondola station at the end of Oak Street in Telluride, and load your bikes for a lift up the mountain. Unload at Station St. Sophia and head straight on Coonskin Loop. Take a left onto See Forever Trail, and then follow the trail (actually a fire road) as it climbs relentlessly up the mountain, past the top of Lift 9 and the Tempter House. The road turns into a steep singletrack for the final push to the top of Gold Hill, and signs will point left to the Wasatch Trail. The trail traverses across Revelation Bowl on the backside of the mountain before dropping precipitously into Upper Bear Creek. Tight switchbacks, exposed traverses and technical sections follow.
The trail eventually comes to a fork — take a left in the direction of Telluride to get back to town. More techy sections follow before the trail arrives at an old wooden bridge. After the bridge, the trail mellows a bit and turns into a fun and fast slalom through thick woods that will drop you to Bear Creek Trail. Take another left here for a fast double-track back to town, and watch out for hikers and dogs — this is a popular summer hike.