The GDMBR in yellow; alternative in red
Time again to revisit the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route! As the Tour Divide race rolls along and the top riders are flying through Colorado, I’m once again reminded on how much fun this route is, and also some great alternative lines to the official route. My last foray into this topic lead to a major reroute up and over Rollins Pass to the east side of the Divide, then back to the west side on Argentine Pass. That alt. adds major miles, and a whole lot of adventure – it’s pretty audacious!
This time, we’ll keep things a little more straightforward and direct: we’ll get rid of the bike path riding out of Frisco Colorado into Summit County, and do a slightly different line through half of South Park. Let’s check things out!
We’re going to start at the intersection of Highway 9 and East Main Street in Frisco, CO. From here, the official route basically follows the bike path out of Frisco, and into Breckenridge. But, there’s a fairly fun single track trail that also gets you to Breckenridge!
Instead of the bike path, swap in The Peaks Trail for a little bit of technical challenge. The Peaks Trail will finish above Breckenridge, CO on Ski Hill Road. Take this road into town and rejoin the official GDMBR.
Follow the official route up and over Boreas Pass, through Como, across the northern part of South Park and into Hartsel. You’ll get a feel of the vibe of South Park on this stretch. If you’d like things to be a little more interesting: narrower roads, more climbing, more varied terrain, and a little longer distance take this next alternative – it’s based on a local underground race called the Dirty Double Fondo:
Once in Hartsel, take HW9 as usual, but soon leave the highway, and take a left on Co Rd 59. towards Spinney Mountain Reservoir. Copious amounts of fishing hole opportunities will present themselves, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Turn right on Thirtynine Mile Road between Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Elevenmile Canyon Reservoir. Follow Thirtynine Mile Road for a quite a few miles, until it ends at Co Rd 102. Take a right on Co Rd 102 and be prepared to ride into Guffy.
Guffy contains a cafe and roadhouse, along with an antique shop and a few eccentric installations. The Transamerica Trail also goes through Guffy, so chances are good you’ll run into other cyclists. Guffy makes a great resupply between Hartsel and Salida – see? South Park ain’t all that desolate, is it?
Leave Guffy on CO Rd 102 (it’s all of 4 blocks) heading south, then take a right heading west on Highway 9 Turn Left on Co Rd 88 – and follow this road for a good while. There’s a few camping opportunities on this stretch, the largest found by following the Forest Service Access Road to Black Mountain (signed). National Forest is about a mile off route. Mind the private property, please!
Co Rd 88 will run right into Co Rd 2. Take a Right heading west on Co Rd 2 and enjoy the wide open, rolling terrain. CO Rd 2 will eventually lead you right back onto the official GDMBR route right before Herring Park Road, and guide you up and over Elk Pass, and into Salida.
And that’s all there is to this alternative. Enjoy!