Week of December 8-14, 1995
Biking Colorado's Tenth Mountain Trail
Question: Could you please provide information about the Tenth Mountain hut-to-hut system in Colorado? Where is it located and how long is it? How does one reserve space in the huts? What are the costs? Are there mountain bike outfitters nearby?
Chapel Hill, NC
Adventure Adviser: The Tenth Mountain Trail in central Colorado covers more than 300 miles of old logging roads, turn-of-the century railroad grades, and the occasional single-track section--making it ideal for multiday mountain bike trips. A good Front Range starting point is the Shrine Mountain Inn, just three miles off I-70 at the top of Vail Pass. With five huts along this 50-mile stretch of trail and several quick outs to paved roads, you'll have plenty of trip-planning flexibility. Or pedal the Holy Cross 100, one of the two most-traveled long-distance itineraries on the trail. Starting at the Sylvan Lake trailhead, it uses four of the system's 12 huts, crosses the Continental Divide at 11,925-foot Hagerman Pass, and skirts the western and southern edges of the ragged Holy Cross Wilderness, shooting the gap between that area and the Hunter Fryingpan and Mount Massive Wilderness Areas before ending up at Turquoise Lake.
Use of the huts costs $22 per person per night, with the exception of Shrine Mountain, which costs $32 per person. Since they're usually booked to capacity, you may have to share the huts with other groups. Plan on making reservations as far in advance as possible--they're accepted as early as January 1 for the following summer--by calling the Tenth Mountain Division Hut Association at 303-925-5775.
Rent bikes at Christy Sports in Vail (about $20 per day; 970-949-0241) or Aspen Velo Shop in Aspen ($27-$35 per day; 970-925-1495). Or, you can weasel your way out of hauling water, food, bike tools--and just about everything else--if you book a five-day guided trip with Paragon Guides of Vail ($990 per person; 970-926-5299). Before you go, be sure to check out "The Pedaler's Haute Route" in the Destinations section of our August 1994 issue.