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  1. #1
    Senior Member toolbear's Avatar
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    RAIL TRAILS - great Colorado rail trails

    RAIL TRAILS - great Colorado rail trails -

    I am researching rail trails for next season and would appreciate user input on the best rail trails in Colorado - decent length, good trail bed, good scenery, etc. Would you travel XXX miles to ride it?

    I can combine these with my annual visit to Moab and the Colorado Plateau.

    A check of Trail Link suggests the Rio Grande and the Ten Mile Canyon are worth a close look.

    Can't find much on Ten Mile Canyon. No TrailLink reviews, one photo.

    (Warning - I am headed off on a cruise tomorrow, so my replies will be delayed.)

  2. #2
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toolbear View Post
    RAIL TRAILS - great Colorado rail trails -

    I am researching rail trails for next season and would appreciate user input on the best rail trails in Colorado - decent length, good trail bed, good scenery, etc. Would you travel XXX miles to ride it?

    I can combine these with my annual visit to Moab and the Colorado Plateau.

    A check of Trail Link suggests the Rio Grande and the Ten Mile Canyon are worth a close look.

    Can't find much on Ten Mile Canyon. No TrailLink reviews, one photo.

    (Warning - I am headed off on a cruise tomorrow, so my replies will be delayed.)
    Ten mile is a portion of the extensive trail systems of Summit and Eagle Counties in mountainous Colorado. There is a 40 mile - or so - trail system in Summit County, and the furthermost west portion goes from Frisco up 10 mile canyon to Vail Pass (10,600 feet).

    From there, the trail continues in Eagle county down into Vail, and beyond past Avon.

    The surface is great - asphalt, mostly, and the trail is highly used, following the beautiful 10 mile creek, along Interstate 70. At the higher reaches, I-70 separates widely and the trail follows the middle between the two sides of I-70.

    A challenging ride for a beginner. Heading down into Vail are some sharp, steep grades for a bit.

    The Rio Grande Trail is a brand new trail from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. Excellent asphalt surface, except for about a mile, as I understand it. It will be the site for our 50+ BF forum first annual ride this August. The prettiest section is from Carbondale to Basalt, IMHO. Follows the Frying Pan River. Easy trail, 44 miles one way.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 07-25-09 at 03:57 PM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  3. #3
    Senior Member toolbear's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. That sounds rather interesting. I will start to work up the data for my ride book. Coming from sea level (today I am at the SYC Friday Harbor outstation in the San Juans), getting used to riding at altitude will take some doing. Now, if I can arrange it to be going downhill...

  4. #4
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toolbear View Post
    RAIL TRAILS - great Colorado rail trails -

    I am researching rail trails for next season and would appreciate user input on the best rail trails in Colorado - decent length, good trail bed, good scenery, etc. Would you travel XXX miles to ride it?

    I can combine these with my annual visit to Moab and the Colorado Plateau.

    A check of Trail Link suggests the Rio Grande and the Ten Mile Canyon are worth a close look.

    Can't find much on Ten Mile Canyon. No TrailLink reviews, one photo.

    (Warning - I am headed off on a cruise tomorrow, so my replies will be delayed.)
    There are a few "rail trails" in Colorado. The Ten Mile Trail has about 4 miles of actual rail bed. The rest of the trail is paved but not aligned with a rail grade. From Copper Mountain to Vail the trail is relatively steep and high. From the top of Vail Pass to Vail there are sections that have a 16% grade.

    The Rio Grande Trail Dnvrfox mentioned is another as are the following trails: The Santa Fe Trail from Palmer Lake to Colorado Springs, the Mineral Belt Trail in Leadville, Upper Gold Camp Road and the Montrose Trail.

    There are lots of unofficial rail trails here however. Not a total list but a start

    1. Marshal Pass off of Poncha Pass is a rail trail.
    2. Parts of the Colorado Trail on top of Kenosha Pass is the old Denver, South Park and Pacific line.
    3. Boreas Pass in Breckenridge over to Como is part of the DSPP line.
    4. In Buena Vista, the Midland trail is part of the old Midland line. Just to the south of Buena Vista (at Nathrop) you can follow the DSPP to St. Elmo, Hancock and the Alpine Tunnel. There is a way to get over to the Pitkin side to keep following the line (and visit the west side of the tunnel)
    5. Rollins Pass 30+ miles from the east portal of the Moffat Tunnel to the west portal. Spectacular scenery
    6. Frying Pan Road out of Basalt to Ivanhoe Lake is part of the Midland line. You can ride over Hagerman Pass to pick up the rail bed on the other side of Busk tunnel
    7. The Ophir loop around Telluride

    There's a mess of them around and many of them are spectacularly scenic. I have an out of print book called "Tracking Colorado's Ghost Railways" that is wonderfully comprehensive. PM me and I can give you more details.
    Stuart Black
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  5. #5
    GeoBiker / Mapper gps_dr's Avatar
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    In Colorado Springs: (In addition to Santa Fe / Pikes Peak Greenway
    Midland Trail 1.6 Mi
    Rock Island Trail 5.8 Mi
    Shooks Run Trail 3.9 Mi

    Between Falcon & Peyton & El Paso County is a 9 mile section of the Rock Island Regional Trail.
    (Can't get much straighter than this one)
    http://Geobiking.org Network >2,000 miles Colorado Front Range GPS enabled bicycle trails. GPS map overlays & data, pics, info etc.

  6. #6
    Senior Member toolbear's Avatar
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    From the top of Vail Pass to Vail there are sections that have a 16% grade.''

    @@@

    I think I would hike that section. Good to know that the steady RR grade only runs for 4 mi.

  7. #7
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toolbear View Post
    From the top of Vail Pass to Vail there are sections that have a 16% grade.''

    @@@

    I think I would hike that section. Good to know that the steady RR grade only runs for 4 mi.
    Unless you only want to do paved routes, I'd suggest checking out the mountain bike routes I suggested. I did a trip this weekend up the Colorado Midland line to Ivanhoe Lake and it was spectacular. No pictures however. My daughter removed the batteries from the camera and forgot to put new ones in it

    Here's some I found on line





    The road is actually smooth dirt until you get to the last 3 or 4 miles and even that last 3 or 4 miles isn't rough by Colorado standards
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  8. #8
    Senior Member toolbear's Avatar
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    Unless you only want to do paved routes, I'd suggest checking out the mountain bike routes I suggested. I did a trip this weekend up the Colorado Midland line to Ivanhoe Lake and it was spectacular. No pictures however. My daughter removed the batteries from the camera and forgot to put new ones in it

    Here's some I found on line

    @@@@

    That first shot looks right scary. Immediately thought of the Wellington Slide up here in WA. They had also denuded the slopes above the right of way an one (of a whole series) avalanche took the train off the tracks and down into the canyon. Read a great book on it. One of those things where every roll came up three lemons. Last time we had a storm like that ('90s) warehouse roofs, marina boat sheds, etc. were failing all over the Seattle area. Here is a blip:

    <http://www.avalanche.org/~moonstone/TAR/avi%20review%20articles/96%20killed%20in%20unknown%20avalanche.htm>

    As a Geezer on a Mountain Bike vs a Mountain Biker (subtract 40 years, 50 pounds and 60 IQ points) I enjoy a good dirt (or - to be PC ... "native surfaced") road.

    I thank you for taking the time to send the info. Will look this over. Google Earth is fired up.

  9. #9
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    I rode the Leadville - Mineral Belt Trail a couple of times this summer. Very impressive. 11 miles of paved multi-use trail mostly above 10,000 elevation. Needed to avoid a couple of street luges. Many historic locations with signs. Carry water. Plenty of trees and Portajohns. Groomed for Cross Country Skiing in Winter.

    A small section of the Ten Mile Canyon bike path was/is being resurfaced this month. Subject to closure during the workday. Overall the Summit County Bike Paths are some of the best in the country. They have worked hard to develop and continue to maintain quality.

  10. #10
    Senior Member toolbear's Avatar
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    RE - Leadville-Mineral Belt Trail
    Thanks for the heads up. I will put it on the list for research.
    Currently I am in Price, UT, heading for the Wedge at the San Rafael Swell, then Moab, etc.
    Might just do a trip out of CA next season and get into Colorado.

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