Hancock Townsite Winter Ride

Buena Vista

Salida

A beautiful mountain road groomed for winter recreation.

Fat biking Moderate

Distance
18 km
Ascent
343 m
Descent
343 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
3 km
High Point
3.4 km
Gradient
Hancock Townsite Winter Ride Map

When the snow is plentiful and the grooming is fresh, there aren't many better winter fat bike rides than the 5.6-mile ride up to the old Hancock Townsite above St. Elmo, Colorado!

Description

Imagine this scenario: a gentle-grade mountain road, crispy-firm fresh groomed corduroy, warm temps, bluebird sky, and gorgeous scenery. That's not unusual for a ride on this 11-mile out-and-back route.

For a mountain ascent, gaining just under 1,100 feet over 5.6 miles makes for a pretty mellow ride! This route is about as sweet as it gets, making this a perfect choice for someone trying out winter fat biking for the first time. As with any such ride, spending a little time getting your tire pressure just right pays off mightily. With the pressure dialed in, it will feel nearly effortless as you create tire tracks that just kiss the surface.

The ride initially passes through a gorgeous aspen alley, looking almost ethereal in the winter landscape. The eye candy is nearly constant: rocky, gorge-like walls and vast mountain views keep a rider enthralled on the ascent. One of the most intriguing sights along the way is an old mine structure that leans quite precariously above the road. Note: the structure is private property, so enjoy looking and snap a few photos from the road.

Though this route is groomed for snowmobiles, other winter recreation is allowed. That means it is possible to wave at or chat with skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobilers along the way. Unless it is a holiday weekend;,however, this is one of the more lightly traveled local options.

Not long before the 5.6-mile turn-around, the terrain opens up dramatically, with huge expanses of deep, billowy snow all around. Just before the bridge crossing, on the left, buried under many feet of snow, is the old Hancock Townsite. Take a minute to try to imagine what life in these mountains must have been like so very long ago. For a little historical perspective:

“The once-expansive Hancock had thrived as a railroad town, its importance peaking during the last two decades of the nineteenth century," according to FourteenerNet.com. "Just prior to that time, as the Alpine Tunnel was being built, the town served the railroad workers. That made Hancock different from other towns in the area that existed to accommodate miners. Once the tunnel was finished in 1881, the railroad running through town kept Hancock alive and vibrant. It's said that Mark Twain came through once just to experience this particular stretch of rail. The Alpine Tunnel closed in 1910, but trains still came to Hancock. However, when they stopped in 1926, the last of the local mines shut down, too. All that can be seen of the town today is the remnants of one collapsed cabin.”

Though this is a mellow ride, it does climb to above 11,000 feet, so be prepared with the 10 essentials... especially plenty of additional layers. It is not at all uncommon to ascend wearing short sleeves, but it's almost guaranteed that the descent will require a couple extra layers, plus mittens and a warm hat!

Difficulty

Moderate

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, December

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area