Tincup Pass

Buena Vista

Salida

Ride a groomed trail from St. Elmo, a ghost town at 10,000'.

Fat biking Difficult

Distance
21 km
Ascent
678 m
Descent
676 m
Low Point
3 km
High Point
3.7 km
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
Tincup Pass Map

Description

This gorgeous winter fat bike ride launches from a noted Colorado ghost town. “St. Elmo was originally settled in 1878 and was made official in 1880 when gold and silver began to bring many people to the area," according to Legends of America.com. "In 1881 it became a station on the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad line where the tracks continued through Romley, Hancock and through the historic Alpine Tunnel. The railroad continued to run until 1922 and it has been said that the rest of St. Elmo’s population rode the last train out of town, never to return.”

The historical perspective adds to the already amazing journey up toward Tin Cup Pass. Conjuring up images of life in such a harsh environment nearly 150 years ago is hard to do!

Pedaling easily from the St. Elmo winter parking area quickly segues into a steep, attention-getting climb. Once it levels out a bit, the ride is fairly mellow as it ascends gradually through aspens and pine trees. Tantalizing glimpses of majestic, snow-covered mountains appear between the trees before the scenery opens up spectacularly at about 2 miles in. This area can experience huge avalanches, as it did in 2019, when a massive slide thundered down and over the route, covering it in deep snow and hundreds of downed trees.

After the initial climb, the groomed route meanders pleasantly along until about four miles in, when the grade abruptly steepens. Be prepared to hike-a-bike in shaded areas where the snow stays soft.

The exertion is amply rewarded at mile 5, where the terrain opens up to expansive views of mountains and Tin Cup Pass ahead. The route is not always groomed all the way to the pass, but even if it ends around 5 miles, it is well-worth the ride!

The descent is the next reward for all the effort. It is a zippy, exhilarating run! Be sure to pack the 10 essentials, with sufficient extra layers to apply for the fast descent from nearly 12,000' elevation.

About half a mile from the bottom, look for the Poplar Gulch Trail sign on the left. If there is a good snowshoe trench, it is fun to add a bit of out-and-back singletrack riding to the outing, before getting back to the parking area in St. Elmo.

Difficulty

Difficult

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

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

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, December

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