Lynx Pass and Around Stagecoach Reservoir

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Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Date Published:
June 29, 2024
Gravel Ratio:
99% Gravel / 1% Pavement
Difficulty Rating:
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Lynx Pass (National Forest System Road 270) is a well maintained and scenic 16-mile stretch of gravel with an elevation range from 7,200 to 8,720 feet. According to the US Forest Service, the habitat varies from lodgepole pine, quaking aspen, and subalpine fir forests with grasslands and wetlands intermixed.

The Lynx Pass road was wide, had very low car traffic, and was in really great condition in late June.

The first 20 miles are largely downhill, so it was fun to start out chill, really take in the scenery and keep an eye out for animals. (Wildlife sightings are common and include moose, mule deer, bear, and songbirds. Go early morning or near dusk for your best opportunity to see animals!)
We came across a huge herd of nearly 1,000 sheep. Stopping to listen to hundreds of sheep bleating and the sound echoing off the mountains was a wild experience!!

Stagecoach State Park and its reservoir is an incredibly beautiful place to gravel bike! The park is a Colorado State Park located in Routt County in the lush Yampa Valley. The 1,641-acre park includes an 820-acre reservoir on the Yampa River formed by Stagecoach Dam. You will not be disappointed by the panoramic views of the lake, dam, river, Sage Bluffs, the Yampa Valley, and the cliffs of Blacktail Mountain!
There are trails that go nearly all the way around the reservoir making up what is known as the "Grand Traverse" of Stagecoach Reservoir. It links the Elk Run Trail with Routt County Road 18, to the Overlook Trail and then the Lakeview Trail. The trails do not allow motor vehicles and are wide with a fine gravel surface which ungulates up and down along the shore. There is a few sections of easy single dirt track as well. (We have a route of just the Stagecoach Reservoir Loop, and you can read the route write-up here.)

The trip back up the pass from Stagecoach is gradual, never terribly steep (average grade of approximately 2%) and is non-technical terrain. It is a approachable climb for a beginner graveler.


This route is maybe one of our new favorites and we can hardly think of a single low.

Doing this route in late June meant afternoon temperatures were quite warm. For the most enjoyable experience in the Summer, start early to avoid having to climb in the mid-day heat.

Do this ride if you want a really scenic and enjoyable, out-and-back, gravel climb on a forest service road, coupled with car-free trails that loop around a beautiful reservoir.

Other Notes:

We parked in a public parking area on the south side of state highway 134, right at the turn to head up Country road 16/National Forest System Road (NFSR) 270/Lynx Pass. (There was no vault toilet here.)

As with all high-elevation Colorado routes, be aware of rapidly changing weather conditions- lightning storms often form in early afternoon.  Always check the weather before heading out and pack a raincoat and layers just in case!

This route takes you right by the Lynx Pass Campground, with access to running water, restrooms, and campsites for a daily fee. (Mile 3 and again at mile 47.)
In addition there are public vault toilets right before the campground (at mile 2.8) and several at Stagecoach Reservoir (mile 20, 24.5 and 30.)

Colorado State Park does require a fee to park and to enter by bike. Day passes are $4, or you can use your annual state park pass. More info here.

The Stagecoach Marina Store (approximately mile 24.5) has a "small camp store with firewood, ice, non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and often forgotten items" and makes a perfect mid-ride stop to refuel.

There are campgrounds in the Stagecoach State Park if you want to stay here. Camping requires a reservation and can be made on or by calling 1-800-244-5613.

With camping possibilities at either end of this route, this would make a really accessible, beginner 2-day bikepack route!

Stagecoach State Park is about 17 miles south of the town of Steamboat Springs, so you have the option to drive (or bike!) to post-ride food and drinks if you want.

Driving Directions

Route Contributor

Laura & Rose

Laura Karpinski and Rose Barcklow are the creators of Gravel Bike Adventures. Click on the About page to learn more about them.

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