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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. The problem for bikepackers is that the Colorado Trail wasn’t originally built with bike travel in mind.
Sure, plenty of sections are absolutely incredible on the mountain bike… but others, especially on a fully-loaded bikepacking rig, are notoriously brutal.
The Miner’s Creek/Wheeler section of the trail is one such ultra-brutal section. Instead of hike-a-biking straight up the Ten Mile mountain range and then being faced with the possibility of having to hike-a-bike DOWNHILL on ultra-technical singletrack, many bikepackers choose to bypass around the Ten Mile range between Breckenridge and Copper.
Conveniently, a paved bike path provides a very pleasant connection, keeping riders off of the highway. By itself, this bike path is a very popular road biking route, so as a bypass option for bikepackers it is very pleasant indeed.
Sure, you’re not on singletrack, but at least you’re riding your bike instead of hiking! If pedaling from Breckenridge to Copper, this route demands a respectable climb up the bike path.
If traveling the opposite direction, it’s a high-speed downhill coast.