Frisco

Frisco was one of our favourite places. We liked it so much that we visited it twice. The two legs of the Colorado Trail and the Peaks Trail which are within pleasant cycling distance were some of the best rides we had in Colorado. The town is beautifully situated on 2575 metres altitude next to the Dillon Reserve an artificial lake. We camped at two different USFS campgrounds, at the first visit next to the lake at a camping called Heaton Bay, at the second we camped outside town at Peak One in a spot reserved for bikers and hikers. The latter was a few dollars cheaper.



Heaton Bay Camping


Peak One Camping, spot for ‘hikers and bikers’
 
Cycling is a big thing in Frisco. There is a nice network of paved cycle paths that connects all the cities in the area and goes as far as Vail. Quite a few roadies are around working out on the high passes, but mountainbikes dominate the scene. Every town has several excellent bike shops.

The local information about where to ride is excellent. A 2003 Summit County Trail Guide, with  details of  over 27 mountain bike rides and backcountry roads, 40 miles of paved bike paths, and early season riding suggestions, to quote the cover, was distributed freely. It was so good that used together with  the  Free Summit County, Street Map & Area Guide we felt no need to buy a topographic map.


Colorado Trail, Swan Valley
The Colorado trail east of Frisco is awesome, as the Americans say. We rode it three times, more than any other trail, because it was so much fun.


One begins by leaving the cycle path between Frisco and Breckenridge, heading up the Tiger Road through the Swan Valley. First the road is paved. Then, it turns into a dirt road, ascending to some 3100 metres. A long climb. One leaves the road where the Colorado Trail crosses it. There is an obvious sign.



Tiger Road

From then on it is singletrack some 20 kilometres back to the valley. Initially, the trail traverses some high forested country with some technical sections that are great fun. Splendid views.

Now, the trail loses a bit of altitude down to the  North Fork Road, there are a  couple of camping spots. The singletrack goes around and between them, crosses a dirt road and hits a new section that is maintained by the Summit Fat Tire Society.




First section of the Colorado trail

The path climbs West Ridge, a long steady climb, some rather technical switchbacks, meadows, and forest, to the highest point at 3392 metres.

Then, there is almost continuous downhill 10 kilometres with spectacular repeated switchbacks, through dense forest, interspersed with some alpine meadows. After 10 kilometres is a small climb before one descends down to the main valley via some very difficult switchbacks to an RV resort.
Adopted by the Summit Society

Ascent

Ascent through alpine meadow

Approaching the highest point

Colorado Trail Switchback

Meadow

Fast section

Another switchback

Rolling downhill



Colorado Trail to Searl Pass
   
The Colorado Trail west of Copper Mountain heads up to the Searl Pass. Copper Mountain is 10 km on a paved bike path, the Ten Mile Canyon Trail, from Frisco. From Copper Mountain it is is a strenuous ascent, first through the ski area of Copper Mountain, then up through the meadows of Guller Gulch, which one leaves climbing on steep switchbacks to gain a flat ridge. One passes above Janet's Cabin, and climbs another set of switchbacks to reach Searl Pass at 3633 metres. Views are splendid, and the harsh ascent is rewarded with almost 17 kilometres of continuous downhill when one returns to Copper Mountain.

It is possible to continue to Kokomo Pass and further, but we did not as there was still snow on some sections of the path.


Guller Gulch is below

The last ascent to Searle Pass, 3633 m

Descent from Searle Pass over the tundra

Fox, it was not shy at all


 

Peaks Trail
The most ridden trail in the area is possibly the Peaks Trail between Breckenridge and Frisco. It is approximately 15 kilometres of varied singletrack, there are some short ascents, but most of it is descent. The Peaks Trail has long sections of fast winding singletrack, there are some rock gardens, and some demanding sections, steep, rooty and rocky. It is great fun. In Breckenridge one heads up the Ski Hill Road to the trail head. Then it is pure joy, traversing the slopes, through woods and meadows, all the way down to Frisco.
 

Through dense forest

Open space

Gnarly bits

Rock garden

Untouched primary forest

Would we go back to Frisco? Absolutely, it was in fact the only place we visited twice. The singletrack is some of the best in the world. The Swan Valley Colorado Trail Loop is an epic ride in the same league as the Monarch Crest Trail. It was so fun that we rode it thrice.

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