Colorado Trail MTB Tour
Our Colorado Trail Mountain Bike Tour offers a point-2-point journey across the high and wild singletrack of the Colorado Trail from Monarch Pass to Telluride. Cyclists start at a distant point and arrive triumphantly in Telluride. Along the way there is great beauty and adventure while riding through the San Juan Mountains. The Colorado Trail mountain bike tours of camping or can include the option of 3-nights camping & 2-nights of lodging (5-nights total). Either way this is an alpine journey you are sure to remember.
The Colorado Trail offers the ultimate point-to-point single-track mountain biking experience in North America!
Colorado Trail Itinerary Options
Lizard Head Cycling offers two 6-day versions of this tour (an advanced option and an upper-intermediate option). See the descriptions below The advanced route offers more high elevation singletrack than the upper-intermediate option. Both are fabulous tours.
There is also a custom 4-day version. Please contact us with your questions.
Should I Ride the Colorado Trail Tour or Crested Butte Singletrack?
The main difference between the Colorado Trail tour or our Crested Butte Singletrack are that the Crested Butte (CB) Singletrack tour offers almost exclusively singletrack riding from camp to camp. So the CB tour is one to should ride if you want to experience the best mountain singletrack one can find. Crested Butte’s wildflowers and swimming opportunities are second to none.
Our Colorado Trail North Pass to Telluride Mountain Bike tour is a point-2-point backcountry mountain bike ride that travels along the high & wild Continental Divide through Southwest Colorado. The trail includes singletrack and rugged & remote dirt roads. The tour takes place in high and wild San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The Colorado Trail bike tour is guided and vehicle supported and in our opinion offers one of the Ultimate Mountain Biking Experiences in North America.
I wanted to reach out to you to thank you for our Colorado Trail extravaganza … The trip exceeded my expectations … I remember the abundant laughter and support that permeated the week. Other immediate memories include the lavish wild flowers, the amazing vistas. – Bruce E.
Mountains Offer… freedom, grandiosity, seclusion, accomplishment, camaraderie and vulnerability.
Colorado Trail MTB Tour: Highlights
Cycling in the Rockies Backcountry
The San Juan Mountains are among the wildest, most beautiful and inaccessible mountainous areas in the lower 48 states. The trail crosses high mountain passes, beneath numerous unnamed waterfalls and traverses fields of verdant wildflowers at elevations that rarely drop below 10,000 feet. Large fauna of most every-type inhabit this landscape.
The tour’s standard accommodations include four nights of camping and one night of lodging at a mountain top alpine hut, the Opus Hut (custom tours available).
Lizard Head Cycling Guide’s bike tours offer out of the ordinary mountain biking vacations by delivering cyclists into a backcountry setting far away from accessible trail-heads. Rarely will one see another person let alone another cyclist.
“Out of the comfort zone, but not into a panic zone”
Read a Men’s Journal Story about the Colorado Trail Mountain Bike Tour
Colorado Trail MTB Tour: Dates
Potential tour dates are listed below and not all tour dates will run. Lock in your preferred tour date early as unopened tour dates will be closed. Please see the Spring/Autumn Tour Calendar and the Summer Tour Calendar for confirmed departures. Any unopened date can be a Custom Week (9 riders required). Please contact us via email or call 970.728.5891
2018 Summer Tour Dates:
PLEASE NOTE: All of the following dates are for Summer 2018.
- June 24 to 29, 2018 (Book Now!)
- July 8 to 13, 2018 (Book Now!)
- July 15 to 20, 2018 (Book Now!)
- July 22 to 27, 2018 (Book Now!)
- July 29 to August 3, 2018 (Book Now!)
- August 12 to 17, 2018 (Book Now!)
- August 19 to 24, 2018 (Book Now!)
*Also consider our Crested Butte Singletrack MTB Tour
Colorado Trail MTB Tour: Overview
Starting & Ending Town: Montrose, CO and Telluride, CO
Tour Length: 6 days & 5-nights
Total Miles: 151 to 171 (Can I keep up on this tour?)
Mileage Range: 20-38
Ability Level: 2/3 (Upper-Intermediate to Advanced)
Group Size: 6 to 10 (this smaller size ensures an awesome personalized experience on the trails)
Tour Cost: $1,450 per person (includes one nights lodging). Group discount of 5% for groups of 4 or more.
*Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.
Bike Rental: Lizard Head Cycling Guides rents Scott 720 Genius Plus bike (a.k.a. Chubby Bike) while supplies last as sizing is limited. Scott 720 Genius Plus bikes are included as first come first serve and sizing is limited to Small, Medium, Large and XL. The cost of the tour does not change if one’s sizing is not available or if one chooses to use their own bike.
Rental Tent, Ground Pad and Sleeping Bag: $85
Lizard Head Cycling offers late model camping gear rentals. The rental tent is a 3-person Sierra Design tent (sleeps 2 comfortably). The ground pads are 1.5 inches thick and our synthetic sleeping bags are rated for 20 degrees (so you’ll feel warm & comfy in the Colorado Wilderness).
**Al la Carte tent rental is $55-.
Sleeping Includes: (Subject to availability)
- Nights 1 & 2: Tent camping with full outdoor kitchen in the Colorado wilderness
- Night 3: Camping or lodging in Lake City, Colorado or tent camping (options exist).
- Night 4: The spectacular Molas Pass campground
- Night 5: Camping or Lodging at the Opus Hut, Ophir, CO
Also: All meals, shuttles, vehicle support and guide service.
Meals On Tour
Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients. Guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu: including appetizer, salad, entree and of course dessert... yum! Also, while on tour if a guest wants to dine early before the group and go to bed, this is fine. We understand that on some days sleep is the most important post ride element.
Lunches on Tour: Lizard Head Cycling Guides prepares healthy lunches to keep you going. We will serve you fresh organic fruits and veggies, salads, hummus, sandwich fixings, nuts, gourmet cheeses and of course plenty of salty/sweet snacks such as chips and cookies. We pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works for you during the week. Gluten Free, Dairy Free or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the tour!
Riding the Colorado Trail Mountain Bike Tour
Love the clouds, riding among them, and looking down at them. [That’s} the effect of the sights we have seen and the people I have come to know through these trips” – Bill S.
The details: You’ll explore unspoiled landscapes, rush through cool mountain air, drink in 360-degree mountain views and pedal past carpeted fields of wildflowers (which can be handle-bar high). High altitude campsites offer a canopy of bright stars and deep sleep at night. Your experienced guide takes care of all the route finding, planning and logistics.
At day’s end, the fully equipped support truck at the camp provides all the necessities for a delicious guide-prepared meal. All you have to do is relax, hang out with your new friends, or explore a little more on your bike.
What about the altitude? Cyclists from lower elevations ride in Colorado each year, and most have no problems. All it takes is some preparation, patience and a little more hydration than you’d normally have.
Yes, you’ll likely ride slower, and your heart rate will increase, but these are the Rockies, after all.
Even though the elevation on the Colorado Trail MTB ranges from 8,000 to 13,000-feet, and the average levels on the tour are between 7,500 and 8,500-feet, the views alone will make your heart beat faster!
The weather: The high Rockies have some of the most dynamic summer weather in the country. One moment, it’s sunny and warm under intensely blue skies. The next, massive clouds race across the horizon and bring a frozen downpour with thunderclaps.
As Coloradans who know a thing or two about this stuff, we’ll make sure you’re outfitted and safe from these intense, but brief weather events.
- Read a Bicycling Magazine article about riding at altitude.
How Much Singletrack is There?
The Colorado Trail MTB tour was designed as a point to point adventure tour. The idea is to give you an opportunity to pedal some of Colorado’s most remote, fascinating, and inaccessible terrain. It will contain sections of single track, unimproved roads, sections with hardly a trail and everything in between. The ride will consist of alpine terrain, technically challenging terrain, push your bike through 3-feet of snow terrain and sit back and take-it-all-in terrain. In short, the tour is more like a mountain biker’s climb of Denali then repeated days of sessioning spliter cracks while rock climbing. Does this make sense? Email us if you have more questions.
SINGLE TRACK SPECIFICS for Upper-Intermediate Tour Option:
Day 1: Almost entirely super flowy, rollercoaster-esk single track starting at Monarch Pass.
Day 2: 12 miles of single track to start off the day.
Day 3: Singletrack riding from the Continental Divide to Lake City
Day 4: Trail riding in and around Engineer Pass.
Day 5: Single track near Molas Lake Campground in the morning, before embarking on the journey up Ophir Pass to the remarkable Opus Hut.
Day 6: Opus Hut to Telluride offers excellent singletrack options.
Colorado Trail MTB Tour: Itinerary*
*Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Please view this itinerary as an outline as to what to expect on this tour.
Day 1: Monarch Crest Trail
30 miles of some of the most breathtaking and smoothest trail in the world
On Day 1 of the Colorado Trail MTB tour ride what is considered one of the very best singletrack trails in the American West, the Monarch Crest Trail. The route starts at 12,000-feet smack dab on the continental divide and descends over 4,000-feet. To start the day the trail offers above treeline views that stretch across Colorado. The ride finishes with a smooth and serpentine ride on the Rainbow Trail.
Day 2: The Cannibal’s Route: North Pass to Cebolla Creek Camp
36 miles through the San Juan Mountains
2,146-feet ascent (1,891-descent)
On this leg, you’ll ride a stunning route into the foothills of the San Juan Mountains to a camp along tranquil Cebolla creek. Although this is not a single-track day, it is a good warmup and has been one of our guest’s favorite rides, following creeks along the base of the San Juan Mountains.
Tonight enjoy grilled chicken, vegetables and salad. Soak your feet in the bracing creek while drinking a beer. Tomorrow cyclists enter into the high San Juan Mountains.
A historical note: The Cannibal Classic is this day’s route, named after the infamous Alfred Packer. He was a miner who became snowbound on an ill-fated journey into the San Juan Mountains in the late 1800’s. Come spring, Packer was the only remaining miner alive from his party of six, looking pretty healthy. He had literally eaten his compatriots.
As a result this is definitely a stage in which one should watch your tent-mates!
Day 3: Cebolla Creek Camp to Lake City or the Headwaters Camp
Upper-Intermediate Option: From Cebolla Creek cyclists ascend to 11,500-foot Slumgullian Pass and then descend either singletrack or dirt roads to the remote mountain hamlet of Lake City for a beer and shower.
Advanced Option: From Cebolla Creek cyclists ascend to 11,500-foot Slumgullian Pass. After a fast decent of the pass via pavement cyclists head west up our remote Headwaters Camp in the Rio Grande Watershed.
At this point cyclists are pedaling through a remote landscape. To the southwest rises the 13,000-foot Rio Grande Pyramid. To the north unfolds the expansive views of the fourteen thousand foot peaks of Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn.
Tonight’s Headwaters Camp offers commanding views of the remote Rio Grande Valley.
Day 4: Lake City to to Silverton (Upper-Intermediate Option)
25-miles with 3,289-feet of ascending and 4,115-feet of descending
From Lost Trail Creek camp cyclists continue up the remote headwaters of the Rio Grande on a narrow spur of the historic Santa Fe Trail. The first challenge of the day is a 1,000-foot climb up to 11,000-foot Timbered Hill before an assault on the massive Stoney Pass (12,650-feet).
From the airy heights of Stoney Pass (elevation 12,650 ft.) cyclists cross the Continental Divide for a 3rd time. Stoney Pass was the crux ascent (as it is on this tour) of the Santa Fe Trail’s historic stagecoach route serving the mining town of Silverton. Its views frame the steep terrain you’ve traversed over the past two days.
A 3,600-foot descent to the historic mining town of Silverton is to follow. In Silverton be sure to take in the spectacle of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Tonight’s Molas Pass campsite is considered the “most beautiful in Colorado” by AAA. Hot showers are available tonight!
Day 4: Lake City to to Silverton (Advanced Option)
38-miles (25-miles of singletrack and 13-miles of mining roads)
4,500-feet of ascending and 5,800-feet of descending
From the spectacular setting of the Headwaters Camp cyclists arise before dawn for an alpine start. An Alpine start is a term mountain climbers use when they start in the dark early morning hours to reach the summit of a mountain. And today, for fit cyclists only, we climb above treeline to the highest point of the entire 500-mile Colorado Trail to 13,200-feet. On this day the Colorado trail serves up 20-miles of singletrack that hovers at the 12,000-foot mark. This is rarefied air for mountain cycling offering both great beauty and great challenge. Tonight cyclists on this advanced option lodge in Silverton at the Grand Imperial Hotel.
Day 5: Molas Lake Camp to the Opus Hut
5 to 25-miles of singletrack & 15-miles of dirt roads
3,000 feet of climbing & 2,500-feet of descending
This day is filled with great rewards for cyclists. In the morning cyclists have the option to ride the smooth and flowing singletrack of the Colorado Trail from Molas Lake towards Rolling Pass. After lunch the route descends back to Silverton before the ascending the final pass of the tour, 11,850-foot Ophir Pass. At the top of Ophir Pass in a sound of musci setting s its our lodging for this evening, the Opus Hut. NOTE: The morning section of trail on the C.T. will be unguided.
The Opus Hut is a high mountain oasis modeled after the backcountry huts on the Europe’s iconic Haute Route. There is a wood fired sauna, deck and remarkable views of the San Juan Mountains (Read a short Denver Post piece about the hut).
Day 6: Opus Hut to Telluride
Descent of Ophir Pass and a ride into Telluride!
21-miles 1,171-ascent and 4,029-feet of descent
After a relaxing evening and morning spent in the 11,600-foot Opus Hut cyclists crest Ophir Pass at 11,800-foot before descending 3,500-feet through the Ophir Valley. A final singletrack trail ride across Telluride’s Valley Floor brings the tour to an end across the valley from 325-foot Bridal Veil Falls.
Finish your mighty mountain bike trek through Telluride’s streets in the early afternoon with a beer at the 120-year-old New Sheridan Saloon.
Colorado Trail MTB Tour: Logistics & FAQs
NOTE: Post tour lodging in Telluride is not included. Cyclists can choose to stay in Telluride for the night or shuttle back to Montrose (65-miles) for the evening. Lizard Head Cycling provides an early 7am Saturday morning shuttle back to Montrose.
PLEASE NOTE: Although these tours are for advanced riders, they are NOT death marches. They are well planned guided adventures into the backcountry that are within the ability of experienced riders. In reality many riders who are capable of riding and enjoying these tours self-select themselves out of participation because they feel the tour will be too hard. If you would like to join us and have a question about your ability, please call. For more information or to make a reservation, contact us: 970.728.5891 or Info@LizardHeadCyclingGuides.com
Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with BikeFlights.com. Bikes can be shipped either to our partner bike shop in each meeting town for professional assembly or directly to the meeting hotel for self-assembly. Bike boxes can generally be left at the meeting hotel during the tour. Bikes shipped across the continental US should be shipped 8 days prior to your tour.
General Tour & Cancellation Policies
Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with all of our tour and cancellation policies, which can be found by clicking here.
Lizard Head Cycling Guides teams up with Seven Corners for travel insurance. Seven Corners offers:
- Travel Medical
- Medical Evacuation
- 24/7 Assistance
- Trip Cancellation
Be sure to go to our custom Seven Corners portal by clicking this link or by clicking the the banner on the right after confirming your tour with us to get a quote on travel insurance.
Lizard Head Cycling Guides is an equal opportunity service provider and employer.
Lizard Head Cycling Guides operates under special use permit from the USDA Forest Service, Rio Grande National Forest.