Alpine Loop, CO

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by WilderRider, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. WilderRider

    WilderRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,825
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    After many starts and stops, I finally made it down to ride the Alpine Loop in Colorado's San Juan mountains. I have been trying to do this quite some time. Originally, I was going to go in August and ride my GS over these passes. Unfortunately, I kissed a tree a little too hard going over Webster Pass outside of Denver and the GS is now in for repairs (search the Rockies section if that adventure sounds interesting).

    Then, my buddy Chris and I were going to leave September 10 and trailer a couple of new (to us) DR650s to explore around there and make a nice long weekend of it. Chris nicely bruised his crash bar and oil cooler, however, and NO ONE in Colorado had one; it was 7-10 days to get a new one. After that I got a case of the stomach flu that totally ruined my plans for a nice long weekend.

    Friday morning, I woke up feeling good, though and decided to make a shortened trip.

    All packed up
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    I left about noon and rode straight down to Lake City.
    The campsite at Lake San Cristobal has some great views:
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    Even better was the price. They were having some well problems and had dropped the price in half from $15.00 to $7.50, but when I spoke with the camp host, he said the season ended the day before and they were no longer taking any fees. It was free.

    It was a little drizzly in the evening, but made for a nice sunset.
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    The next morning I rolled out around 7:00 a.m., ate breakfast, and headed into Lake City to top off with gas. I got on the trail about 9:00 a.m.
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    I decided to ride the loop counterclockwise starting in Lake City and going up Engineer Pass first and then loop back around Cinnamon Pass.
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    Looking toward Capitol City
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    The weather was great.
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    #1
  2. WilderRider

    WilderRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Toward the top of Engineer Pass, the clouds got a little thicker and it started to snow.

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    Not too bad, but it kept me from wanting to hang around too long.

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    Beautiful views up there. The San Juans seem unique to the other mountain ranges in Colorado. I love some of the mineral colors and the "steeper" looking peaks.

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    #2
  3. WilderRider

    WilderRider Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    After that it was a nice ride down the west side and over toward Cinnamon Pass. It was steep in places and I must say I was having a lot more fun on the DR650 than I would have on the GS. It is amazing what a difference a few hundred pounds and 21 inch front wheel will do.

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    The top of Cinnamon was a little more crowded with some four-wheelers who seemed to be camping near by. There was also a fellow inmate from Las Cruces, NM who I chatted with for a while, but forgot to get his name. Nice talking with you whoever you are.

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    Looking east toward Lake City from the pass
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    Heading back down was fun. A few challenges here and there, but nothing the DR650 couldn't handle.

    Looking back up toward the pass from the east side
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    Toward Lake City
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    #3
  4. WilderRider

    WilderRider Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Denver, CO
    At the bottom of the pass, it was smooth sailing. The leaves were starting to turn and it was as very pretty.

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    I made it back to camp around 12:15. Unfortunately, at that time the weather was starting to close in and I was not up for trying more riding with thunderstorms. I also didn't feel like sitting in my tent all afternoon, so I decided to just pack up quick and head home. It started raining on me while I was packing and I made record time having the bike completely packed up and ready to roll in 35 minutes.

    It only sprinkled on me from Lake City to Gunnison and then it got pretty chilly going over Monarch Pass. I was getting worried about ice on the roads with the fog and rain. It did not, however, become miserable until just after Buena Vista when it just started raining constantly and was only 40 degrees. Only electrics kept me sane from there back to Denver.

    A great trip overall, though. I definitely need to spend even more time exploring the San Juans. Chris, get your bike fixed so you can go.
    #4
  5. dirtphoenix

    dirtphoenix from the ashes...

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,264
    Location:
    the land of mountains and cows
    Great pics! We did the Alpine Loop back in August, although we did the other side of Engineer, Hurricane and Corkscrew passes as well. I would do that ride again in a heartbeat!:clap

    Here's my version...(you gotta scroll down about halfway before the part about the Alpine Loop)

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=490282&page=9
    #5
  6. alltwistedup

    alltwistedup Lost and don't find me

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    where ever the trailer is parked, usa
    you just missed all the fun

    Thursday night 9/10/09 around 7pm coming up from lake city was not bad but it was 1" of slush on the top and west side that made it fun on the way down.

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    #6
  7. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

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    Location:
    northern Arkansas
    Thanks for posting, I may take that area in next fall. Will remember to prepare for some snow.
    Jim
    #7
  8. WilderRider

    WilderRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
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    1,825
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Not sorry I missed that.
    #8
  9. WilderRider

    WilderRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,825
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    It is a great trip. I could to it tomorrow and enjoy it even more. I definitely want to add in some of those other passes next time.
    #9