Colorado Trail: Molas Pass to Engineer Mountain

Durango

The inaugural segment of the famous Silverton to Durango stretch of the Colorado Trail.

Mountain Biking Severe

Distance
32 km
Ascent
1.1 km
Descent
1.1 km
Low Point
3.3 km
High Point
3.8 km
Gradient
12˚
VIEW ON MAP
Colorado Trail: Molas Pass to Engineer Mountain Map

Description

The Colorado Trail (COT) is widely regarded as one of the very best long-distance mountain bike trails in the world. Running for 535 miles between Denver and Durango, the trail crosses high alpine mountain passes and drops into beautiful valleys as it traverses the most beautiful portions of the state of Colorado. The COT forms one-third of the Triple Crown of Bikepacking, along with the Arizona Trail and the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.

Out of the entire Colorado Trail, arguably the most highly-acclaimed portion is the long stretch running from the town of Silverton to the southern terminus of the trail in Durango. While not technically the highest-elevation portion of the trail, nevertheless this section stays very high in the San Juan Mountain Range.

All along this stretch, the views of the surrounding jagged mountains are incredible, the singletrack is narrow and sinuous, and there’s nary a sign of civilization. Indeed, between departing the town of Silverton and entering the town of Durango, the only sign of human life is the occasional dirt road crossing. Plan accordingly and pack all the gear you’ll need.

The first segment of the Silverton to Durango stretch runs from Molas Pass to Engineer Mountain. The summit of Engineer Mountain towers over this entire region, rising to an elevation of 13,218 feet. While that might not sound like a lot compared to Colorado’s numerous 14ers, this mountain is still impressive!

This segment is renowned for high alpine tundra and fields filled with wildflowers in the early summer. In the fall, whispering aspen groves turn a brilliant gold, providing some of the best leaf peeping in the state.

Difficulty

Severe

Widely variable, narrow trail tread with steeper grades and unavoidable obstacles of 15in/38cm tall or less. Obstacles may include unavoidable bridges 24in/61cm wide or less, large rocks, gravel, difficult root sections, and more. Ideal for advanced-level riders.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

July, August, September

Features

  • Flow

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area