Saturday, July 6, 2013

coal bank pass mtb

Thought I might post something a bit more substantive about one of my favorite rides scouted on our recent Durango trip.

Pass Trail and Engineer Mountain trail.

Pass Trail heads up at Coal Bank Pass (10.6k elev), around 25mi north of DGO. Pass Trail is only 2.7mi to the highpoint at Engineer Mt, but the first 2mi proved quite the workout at 11k above sea level.

Thank goodness the views are so stunning they take your mind off your pounding aneurism.

At about 2.2mi, the switchbacks finally give way to more moderate meadows approaching the shoulder of Engineer Mt proper. Here you will want to find a highpoint of yer own, to soak in the vistas, find any excuse to chill for a good bit. Take your time up there, it is indeed a special place- the meadows are simply packed with wildflowers. Paintbrush, buttercups, columbine, penstemons of all varieties.

Engineer Mt serves as the nexus for several trails. The CO trail finds its way down from Molas to the north, continuing on SW to Cascade Creek and then beyond to Kennebeck. Pure, undistilled, awesomeness.

The highpoint also serves as the jump off point for Engineer Trail- our target.

ET zips down the southern slopes of Engineer, plunging 3,000ft in 5mi. You are correct sir, if you shuttle a car at the bottom, you will climb 3mi/1k to then rip down 5mi/3k: I love that math!

ET plunges thru meadows, conifers, meadows, aspens, meadows again on down to the lower TH. Midway thru the conifers, the trail hugs those rocky cliffs overlooking 550 and the tiny ant cars below. What a trip to be carving turns with nothing but a tree or two between you and a Wile E Coyote cliff dive into the forest 500 feet below. Schweet.

The last couple of miles prove a real alpine Kessel Run: the switchbacks stretch out, you can lay off the brakes, give the Yeti her head. I came to a smokin stop to let everyone 'catch up' only to have  11yo Will the Thrill show me his cateye's max speed readout at 23.0mph.

Nearly 1mph faster than his ole dad. And so the Apprentice has outstripped his Jedi Master.

Damn those kids are fast!

I take credit, tho. ;-)

So if you're exploring the high country north of DGO, I'd say you can't go wrong on those trails between Cascade and Molas. Hoping to hit it again before the snow flies- fingers crossed mis amigos.


  1. Good trails for sure Mike. Check out Engine Creek as well sometime - just a bit further on the Engineer Mtn Trail, but descends down to Cascade with a trail over to the bottom of Engineer Mtn. Rocking descent!

    1. Sounds like a great loop, can't wait to try it out. Thx for the tip! M