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Old 09-19-2010, 02:35 PM   #1
sellmeyer OP
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Joined: Mar 2007
Location: Aspen, Colorado USA
Oddometer: 410
Taylor & Schofield Passes, Colorado

Attached is a gamin .GPX file containing high resolution track logs for Taylor Pass and Schofield Pass, both between Aspen and Crested Butte, Co. I rode both passes in one day on a BMW F650GS Dakar with WP suspension. The commentary contained here is biased towards dual sports, not light weight dirt bikes. I was in a hurry on both of these legs and so made only a few waypoints. My camera battery was also dead at the start of the trip so I didn't get photos either.

Taylor Pass track log runs from the roundabout on Aspen's West side to the Highway 50 intersection in Gunnison.

The Schofield Pass track log runs from the Gunnison Brewery to the Highway 133 and Highway 82 intersection in Carbondale.

In any case here are some useful notes about both legs.

Taylor Pass

On the Aspen side the trail is pretty decent. The lower section goes pretty quickly and isn't very rocky. It gets rocky in some areas of the middle which slows down momentum. One particular rocky section is just above the last tree'd portion of the trail and is where the trail widens into the lower portion of a large basin. A little higher the route gets particularly steep and sandy with some occasional rock clumps. This side is pretty doable on most bikes with lower gearing and knobby tires. While there is plenty of 2nd gear terrain down low, most of the middle and upper sections are 1st gear.

The Taylor Reservoir side of the pass is completely different. Apart from the short drop to Taylor lake, this side isn't as steep as the North side. While that sounds good, the fact that the majority of the trail is 80% rocks means that this side isn't fun. In fact there are some sections that are nothing but rocks. The going is very slow and almost nobody is going to get out of 1st gear. There are several creek crossings and one particularly long one where the trail is actually in the creek.

Riding taylor pass is probably easier from the North to the South; some of the really rocky sections on the South side would be tough going up. A steering stabilizer would certainly help as would a solid engine guard.

Schofield Pass

Coming out of Crested Butte one turns North and goes past the huge base village development at the ski area. The main road turns to dirt on the North side of the ski area just past the police station. The dirt track goes smooth and fast about 3 miles to Gothic Beyond this little hamlet the trail gets a little steeper and a little more rough. For the most part the South side of the pass can be done really quickly. There are very few rocks and lots of well maintained dirt.

The North side begins with several switch backs and a creek crossing along the Crystal River Jeep Trail. The trail starts to get rocky and more narrow as one descends below the Lead King turn off to the North. Before long the going gets pretty tough and a series of cascading rock piles must be negotiated. The trail crosses to the South shore of the Crystal River and turns off camber towards the river with a tall rock wall on the other side. The rock is almost like a stair case at this point and it is certainly challenging. About 5 miles from Marble the route turns mostly to rock. The going gets really slow and stays that way for a while. Just outside of Marble the Crystal River Jeep trail rejoins the Lead King Basin trail and the rock frequency thins. The dirt gets smoother going into town and quickly turns to tarmac.

Riding Schofield Pass is fun on the South side. Steep grades and a mostly rocky trail on the North side make it more of a challenge than fun. Due to the severity of the rock steps, riding from the North to the South would be very difficult and is probably not a good idea. It is quite a bit easier to work with gravity on the rocks than to fight them both.
Attached Files
File Type: gpx Taylor-Schofield-Passes-CO.GPX (635.2 KB, 295 views)

sellmeyer screwed with this post 09-19-2010 at 02:43 PM
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Old 09-19-2010, 03:01 PM   #2
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Location: Mt. Vernon, Illinois
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I totally agree with are your assessments of both of those passes. The last time I did both of them in the same day (last year) I was on a KTM520EXC---a much lighter bike than yours and it still felt the same way as you described.

I remember when I went down Schofield Pass (South to North)----I recall when I got at the bottom that I didn't think I could climb back up it------or didn't want to try it anyway. But ......alas........I'm old
You did good on that bigger bike in my opinion

This is the tough part on the South side of Taylor you were talking about.

Schofield-----yeh----I know ----looks easy----that is a beautiful ride.

Thanks for reminding me.

2008 Yamaha WR250R/2006 KTM 450EXC/2014 KTM690/2013 Husky 650 TR650
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Old 09-19-2010, 05:51 PM   #3
sellmeyer OP
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Joined: Mar 2007
Location: Aspen, Colorado USA
Oddometer: 410
Originally Posted by
This is the tough part on the South side of Taylor you were talking about.

Funny you should have that photo; when I got to Crested Butte and met up with my buddies I gave them an excuse for why I was late: There was a jeep parked in the creek winching out some boulders and I had to wait for him to finish.

Well, this is the exact spot. I was headed down and the jeep was headed up. There were two boulders in his way and he was winching them out. With the mention of boulders and creek, one of my buddies said "I know the exact spot you are talking about." Here you are pointing out that spot.

Originally Posted by
Schofield-----yeh----I know ----looks easy----that is a beautiful ride.

Thanks for reminding me.

This was probably the worst of the sections on the Crystal River Jeep Trail. Worst being that it was:

A) steep

b) all rocks

c) not much more than a staircase of rocks on the upper portion

Most of the time I inched the BMW down each step while modulating the front brake. Fortunately with the front wheel down I was able to put both my feet flat for stability. It was the few times when my front wheel popped back up on another rock that I desperately searched for solid footing. Only twice on the trail did I get off the bike and walk it. One of those times was near the bottom of this stretch before the steps ran out.

Note to viewers...

the trail tilts towards the water and it begins farther up than this picture can show. If you are bold and ride this section on the pegs you had better be good...the fall to the water is unforgiving!

And most of the Crystal River Jeep Trail looks like the foreground, 7' wide and 80% rocks!
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