A poignant simile can make a new snowfall sparkle more brightly in the sunshine. If you live in Colorado and spend too long grasping for those words in fall, you’ll miss out on the brilliant show of color right outside your door.
Several times in the last few weeks, I’ve been on my bike both at the moment the sun rises from behind the Continental Divide and when it sinks into the Vail Valley. No, I’m not fortunate enough to have time for bike expeditions in the middle of the workweek.
Shorter days are a symptom of summer becoming winter and it means I hit the alpenglow magic hour each time I commute. Check it out for yourself on one of these rides. And don’t forget the camera.
Fall Road Ride: Lake Loop
With the Swan Mountain Road bike path now complete, there’s no excuse to skip the loop around Lake Dillon. Start in Frisco or Dillon – parking is available at the marinas in both towns and the bike path is easy to catch from either. Ride in a clockwise direction.
Both the Dam Road and the bike path that parallel it offer numerous fall photo opportunities. Peek through the yellow and shoot toward the Continental Divide for a mountain backdrop with sailboats on the lake.
My favorite is the tree-lined bike path into Frisco. As you return to the Marina, check out the marsh area just south – even the grasses change colors; it’s brilliant at sunset and sailboats dot the background.
Fall Hybrid/Gentle Off-Road Ride: Boreas Pass Road
Boreas Pass Road is known as a scenic drive, but it’s also a great bike ride. Ride from downtown Breckenridge or drive to the end of the pavement and park near the gate. Either way, sweeping views of the Tenmile Range come relatively quick and easy.
Bring a picnic lunch and leave plenty of time to take in the canopy of yellow aspens. The nice thing about this ride is that when you get tired, you turn around and it’s all downhill. The views on the descent back to Breckenridge are incredible.
Fall Cyclocross/Gentle Mountain Bike Ride: Gold Run Road and French Gulch
Most folks know this as a mountain bike ride (and justifiably so) but I’ve done it on my cross bike. I got stares and I had to walk a couple steep hills. In fall, it’s simply spectacular.
Start at the Gold Run Gulch Road trailhead in the Breckenridge golf course neighborhood and follow the Gold Run Road, a wide dirt road that eventually drops you into the French Creek area and onto French Creek Road. Ride it as an out-and-back or turn it into a lollipop – make a left on French Creek Road and head right into the B&B trailhead parking lot.
Ride the B&B trail (gentle doubletrack) to the Reiling Dredge, cross the road and head back via Minnie Mine and Sidedoor singletrack; the Prospect Gulch Road (left) meets back up with Gold Run where you can return to the trailhead.
Fall Mountain Bike Ride: Georgia Pass from Highway 285/Kenosha Pass
Georgia Pass may be just outside of Summit County, but it’s no doubt one of Colorado’s classic fall mountain bike rides. It’s evident in the fact that we saw four different groups of folks we knew when we rode it last weekend.
In fall, the first few miles are on sweet singletrack through a tunnel of changing aspens. I consider myself a burgeoning intermediate mountain biker – I can stay on my bike for most of the uphill and the return is downright fun. Two years ago, the roots made it a little stressful but still manageable as a beginner.
The scenery on this section of Colorado Trail changes from the wide-open Park County valley to thick pine forest and finally, sweeping views into Breckenridge from above treeline. Many folks descend the trail back into Breck, but I haven’t yet tackled it as I hear it’s pretty technical in spots.
Park at the Kenosha Pass summit and climb the trail on the north side of the road; the trail is somewhat heavily trafficked in fall and hikers are plentiful on the lower half.
Want to see some fab fall color photos from someone who really knows how to take pics? Check out the Summit Photography Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Summit.Photos?sk=wall
Get a map: http://wildernesssportsonline.com
Check out the USFS fall color updates: http://www.fs.fed.us/fallcolors/index.shtml