December 19, 2016
Epic alpine singletrack with amazing views literally starting right off US 550! This is a popular ride for bikepackers/shuttles, but excellent out and back or loop ride options exist as well. The first 8 miles (starting from Molas Pass) are prime trail with a few small technical sections. You can turn around at this point and still claim a great ride. After that roughly 8 mile mark the trail gets more rocky with some steep sections and really narrow lines. At about this time the altitude really starts to get to you too! (You are over 11,000 feet practically the whole time!) But overall the trail is very doable for the conditioned rider. After about 10 miles, a junction with the Engineer Mountain Trail is reached. Turn left to complete a loop by going down Engineer, turning left onto Pass Creek Trail just shy of 4 miles down (which ends at US 550/Coal Bank Pass), and then riding US 550 back up to Molas Pass. Bear right to continue on the Colorado Trail toward Rolling Mountain Pass at 12,500', and then down and back up to Bolam Pass. It takes quite the physical effort to make it up to Rolling Mountain Pass at this point, but the views make it all worthwhile! (The pass is another great turnaround point.)
This is one trail prone to harsh weather due to the altitude, so an early start is highly recommended. It is barren tundra for the majority of the ride, so not the place to be during a thunderstorm! Be prepared to get muddy after any significant rain due to the many drainages where the trail runs on the side of slopes. This trail does also have a short riding window, I'd say mid-July through September. Be prepared to share the trail with a lot of hikers as well. Overall this is a must do!