Colorado 14ers Loop

Towering mountains, cheery small towns, abundant flowy singletrack, and the 5 bike-legal 14ers along the way? That's a perfect recipe for a fun adventure, and of course, you have the choice of "riding," hiking/running, or skipping the 14ers. That what makes this a classic choose-your-level-of-challenge route in the heart of the Colorado Rockies.

Leadville/ Salida, CO

Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) and Cheyenne lands

22,700' / 44,300'

ELEVATION GAIN

mid-summer to falL

riding season

4-10

days out

6 / 10

PHYSICAL challenge (1-10*)

-

women's FKT

193 / 264

miles

6 / 10

TECHNICAL challenge (1-10*)

-

men's FKT

Stewarded by the Colorado Trail Foundation and the Colorado 14ers Initiative

Managed by the Pike and San Isabel National Forests

* Following the bikepacking Roots rating scale

route map and download

Disclaimer: This route and associated information is just a starting point for your preparation, and your safety is your own responsibility. Although this route, its GPS track and waypoints, route data, and the route guide were prepared after extensive research, their accuracy and reliability are not guaranteed. Check for current conditions, route updates, detours, use common sense, obey local laws and regulations, and travel with alternative means of navigation. The Backcountry Bike Challenge and its creators and contributors will in no way be responsible for personal injury or damage to personal property arising in conjunction with following this route or utilizing any of the route resources provided on this website or via RWGPS.

General route description

The mountains of central Colorado are home to the highest concentration of 14,000-foot peaks in Lower 48. And some of those peaks are somewhat rideable and open to bikes, although few riders ever tackle such challenging terrain. This loop connects routes up 5 of these 14ers with another ~200 miles of beautiful, singletrack-rich riding between Salida and Leadville. So choose your adventure – an enjoyable 4+ day loop, throw in a 14er adventure or two, or try and tackle all 5 for a truly exhausting endeavor. (Note: originally, this route included 7 14ers, but due to public access negotiations for two of the summits – Cameron and Lincoln – those peaks have been removed from the loop.) Please see the additional route information below and on Bikepacking Roots’ website.

Photos by Kurt Refsnider

additional route information

  • Water is relatively abundant along this route, but it should all be treated or filtered appropriately. Do not drink the water in the drainage above Leadville due to heavy metal contamination.
  • The longest stretch without water is the final 30 miles of the route (when riding the loop clockwise) which has little, if any, surface water in the late summer.
  • Food, lodging, and bike shops are detailed in the logistics section of the Bikepacking Roots webpage
  • This route is mostly on public lands with abundant camping options. But the route also crosses private lands (via public access roads/trails), particularly in the valleys where camping is not permitted. The POIs/waypoints mark public lands boundaries.
  • The five peaks on this route are the only bike-legal 14ers accessible from the loop. Others are closed to bikes or involve access trails that are on private lands.

  • Be particularly wary of afternoon thunderstorms. These convective storms often are quite electric, and lightning strikes are very common, and fatalities due to lightning strikes can happen. Take this risk very seriously. Plan to be down below treeline by noon at the latest on days when storms are building.
  • The riding on the 14ers is remote and at times risky. Consider the consequences of even a relatively minor fall and ride with extreme caution.
  • When traveling in the alpine (at or above treeline) please be incredibly conscious of your impact by foot or bike. Stay ON the trail. Do not walk, ride, or push your bike off trail or along the side of the trail. When pushing your bike, keep feet and wheels within the tread. The alpine tundra ecosystem is incredibly fragile. Hiker/biker damage to the environment can threaten future access.

  • Bikes yield to all other users, and always yield to uphill bike traffic when descending.

  • Please be extremely courteous to all trail users so bikes continue to have access to alpine singletrack. Not everyone believes bikes belong on these trails, and poorly behaved cyclists and trail damage/degradation will threaten future access (and the fragile tundra!).

  • There are four options for chasing FKTs on this route: (1) with the 14ers and taking your bike to all 5 summits, (2) with the 14ers, stashing your bike, and hiking/running all 5 summits, (3) riding the main loop without any 14ers, or (4) chasing fast times only up the 14er summits with bike or on foot. See the different leaderboards/results charts at the bottom of this page.
  • The starting locations for the cumulative 14er ascent FKT challenge are marked by waypoints/POIs in the GPS data, and the end points for each are at the summit. Generally, the time for these ascents includes only the time on the summit trails themselves.
  • The route can be ridden/raced in either direction, although counterclockwise is the recommended direction.
  • You must ride 100% of the route in accordance with the FKT rules.

history and stewardship of the route

This route was linked together using existing trails by Scott Morris and Kurt Refsnider and fine-tuned as one of the first route offerings by Bikepacking Roots. The western part of the route is predominantly on the Colorado Trail (stewarded by the Colorado Trail Foundation), and access to each of the 14ers along the way is stewarded by the Colorado 14ers Initiative. This route would not be possible without the trail and advocacy work of both these organizations. We suggest that riders on this particular route make a donation to the Colorado 14ers Initiative.

your rides on this route

Click here for the Ride with GPS Leaderboard for the cumulative 14er ascents!

There is no overall loop leaderboard since riders can start at any location around the loop.

Loop without the 14ers

Loop with 14ers by foot

Loop with 14ers by bike