On the drive up to Kenosha Pass, the weather wasn't looking ideal. My entire drive travels along the mountains and most of the summits were socked in the clouds with only patches of sunshine. The spot forecast had more than 50% chance of storms after noon. I left home fairly early however and thought I had a good chance of finishing my ride before the weather moved in.
I left the Kenosha Pass trailhead around 830AM. My route followed the Colorado Trail (CT) right from the trailhead. Right out of the gate the riding runs on singletrack through an aspen forest. The trail is generally rooty, but never too challenging. The first 6 miles, the trail rolls with a mix of ups and downs. The scenery alternates between forest and meadow. Most of the terrain is at least moderately technical with plenty of roots and a few rockier sections. The sections through the meadows are fast and flowy. The ride starts at 10,000' at the pass drops to its low point on the edge of South Park at 9854'. The open areas through the meadows offer good scenery across South Park and ahead to the climbing toward the Continental Divide. On a clearer day, I'm sure there are more mountains visible across South Park but on this day the visibility was somewhat obscured.
|South Park below with clouds obscuring the mountains|
|Early on the Colorado Trail|
|Trail dipping into upper reaches of South Park|
|Entering a meadow|
|Rock outcropping above the trail|
|Bridge over Jefferson Creek|
|Nice trail in the coniferous forest|
|A glimpse of Mt Guyot|
|Riding a ribbon through the tundra|
|Peaks of the Continental Divide|
|Mt Guyot looming ahead|
|View from the pass with ominous clouds|
|The Colorado Trail continuing toward Breckenridge|
|Guyot and its neighbor|
|Looking across the tundra from the pass|
|Leaving the pass|
|Lots of tundra above treeline|
The West Jefferson Trail descends from the CT through a meadow on a tiny sliver of singletrack. It was clear that this trail is less traveled. On the upper reaches of the trail, it passed just below some lingering patches of snow. Traveling downhill, it didn't take too long to drop back below treeline. Once below treeline the trail descended quickly through a section of a half a dozen or so sharp switchbacks. Below the switchbacks, the trail had better flow before a series of creek crossings. After the final crossing of Jefferson Creek, the trail widened to doubletrack and was quite rocky in spots before reaching Jefferson Creek Campground. The trail passes briefly through the campground before rejoining the Colorado Trail a short distance later near the bridge over Jefferson Creek.
|Start of the West Jefferson Trail|
|The view from the top of the trail|
|Small pond just below the trail|
|A look back toward the beginning|
of the West Jefferson Trail
|The last bit of riding above treeline|
|Log bridge over a water crossing|
|Nice cruising on the|
West Jefferson Trail
|Riding just a few feet from the creek|
|Rough stretch near the end of|
the West Jefferson Trail
After the bridge, the trail climbed a fair amount. The climbing isn't terribly steep, but the trail was rooty and rocky at this point. After 20 or so miles, I was beginning to feel it, especially since I tried to pick up my pace with the recent thunder. The final stretch of climbing from the rides low point passed through a meadow and was less technical but seemed to go on for several miles before finally ending. I often find the long, gradual climbs wear me down more than the steep, short grunts.
|The trail climbs and follows the grassy ride in the distance|
This was a fun ride with nice scenery. Although there are some technical spots, the obstacles are never overwhelming. Considering the fair amount of elevation gain, the climbing to the Continental Divide is never too difficult. Using the West Jefferson Trail to descend allows for a nice loop and offers a little solitude. Although this ride gets a fair amount of traffic from both bikers and hikers, it's worth checking out for riders from the Front Range and the mountains. If possible, I recommend riding during the week to avoid the busy weekends.