HIGH ALPINE GRAVEL
JULY 24, 2021
WINTER PARK, CO
Let’s start with the numbers. 93 miles, almost entirely on gravel. 8,100 feet of climbing, again, almost entirely on gravel. And a starting altitude of 8,800 feet.
But riding gravel isn’t just about the numbers, is it? After a police-led rollout from downtown Winter Park, we bank left onto gravel and head into Arapaho National Forest. As we climb through pine and past creeks, the air gets thinner and the views get better.
All riders from both routes roll out together at 7:30 a.m.
The first timed segment, Crooked Creek Climb, starts at just past 8 miles and tops out just shy of 10,000 feet 4.5 miles later. Up there, stop at the first aid station to refresh and regroup.
Then it’s time for miles and miles of smiles as we cruise down rough forest roads that give way to wide-open, smooth-running dirt roads that you’ll swear are smoother than pavement.
At Williams Fork Reservoir we’ll hop back on pavement and head towards Hot Suphur Springs.
Just before the town, we split with the short route and head southeast for the High Alpine Grind segment. This one is a doozy: 2,500ft in 13 miles. Take in the views – and afterwards the refreshment just over the top – but please be careful on the descent. It’s a long way down.
Back down to Highway 40, we rejoin the short route, for a short jaunt on pavement through a slot canyon that takes us to Hot Sulphur Springs. Take on some sustenance here, because the fearsome Cottonwood Pass lies ahead! Okay, it’s not fearsome. It’s actually really pretty, smothered with an aspen grove over the top. But it is annoyingly steep. And it is a timed segment.
With that work done, you are homeward bound.
See the two maps below for more detail. You can download the GPX file from the RideWithGPS map.
Please note: Route is subject to change pending permits and road conditions.