This route near the Breckenridge area has been on our list of classic Colorado gravel routes to do for quite some time, and the scenery in the White River and Pike National Forests did not disappoint! As you bike up to the Continental Divide, you will see the impressive views of Quandary Peak and other mountains of Colorado’s Central Rockies.
You can learn lots of history about the area through signs and markers.
The Pass originally began as Breckenridge Pass in the 1860s as a route to reach the gold mines. It was widened to a wagon road that could handle stagecoaches in 1866. In 1882, the nation’s highest narrow-gauge railroad track was laid, connecting Como and Breckenridge. It ran until 1938 until WWII when the train tracks were picked up for resources. Then in 1952, the pass was converted into an automobile friendly road as it is today.
The uphill sections were the riding highlights for us.
The first few miles, the dirt was so well packed, a road bike could be ridden! However, the further up you go, the rougher the road surface gets. Biking up the gradual grade, it was generally easy to pick good smooth lines around pot holes and ruts. There are unavoidable embedded rocks and washboard to navigate too, but at low speeds, they didn't seem so bad.
Even though is was a brisk morning, the effort of climbing kept our body temperature comfortable.
We encountered some light car traffic but the large majority of vehicles slowed considerably to pass and were courteous.
Navigation is super easy since it is on one road with only one turn that is well marked. We like to always have our Wahoo navigation for the elevation profile and record of the ride, but you could easily do this out-and-back ride without a bike computer.
The downhill sections were not as pleasant to ride as the same road going uphill. At speed, the rocky, lumpy road and washboards were jarring and uncomfortable.
We put on extra layers and gloves for the downhill sections, but still we ended up with numb hands and feet, especially after 10 miles of downhill from the summit to the town of Como.
Our usual tires, 700x35cm Panaracer Gravelking SK+ Tires (set up tubeless, with Orange Seal sealant and pumped to 35 psi) were adequate for this ride, but we could have been more comfortable on wider tires. Quite honestly, although we were faster than the mountain bikers, they looked like they were quite a bit more comfortable.
Do this out-and-back ride if you want to climb up to the Continental Divide on 100% gravel roads with gorgeous views of the Colorado Rockies. Combine this route with dispersed camping or an afternoon in the resort town of Breckenridge for a full weekend of enjoying what Colorado is best known for.
We parked in a trailhead parking lot right where the pavement ends on Boreas Pass road (about three miles from Main Street in Breckenridge). There are no bathrooms or services here, so plan to stop in the town of Breckenridge before heading out on your ride. FYI- We began around 9:30 on a Saturday morning, and when we arrived, there were very few other cars parked here. When we finished about 3 hours later, the lot was full.
We found public bathrooms in the Section House cabins at the top of Boreas Pass/Black Powder Pass Trailhead, which is about 6 miles into the route. There are no other services here though, so bring enough hydration and fuel for the entire ride.
We also found port-a-potties in the town of Como but we were there during the "Boreas Pass Railroad Days" event and so we are not sure the restrooms are always there. The town of Como is quite tiny and doesn't have a convenient or grocery store that we know of.
This route is best done in the Summer months through early Fall. Remember that you start this ride above 10,000 ft and gos up to 11,500 ft. Downhill temps can be quite chilly depending on the time of day and time of year, so watch the weather and bring along extra layers like a vest, jacket and long-finger gloves.
There is great dispersed camping all along the route in the White River National Forest. We pretty easily found a great tent camping spot on a Saturday afternoon in August.
The town of Breckenridge is just a few miles from where you start, so good coffee, beer and food are close by. We recommend Semplice Cafe, an unfussy walk-up cafe with breakfast burritos, salads & paninis, plus smoothies & coffee from Breck Coffee Roasters on their menu. (They have tasty Gluten-free bagels and paninis says Rose!)