Pitkin Bikepack (Day 3 of 3)

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Location:
Pitkin, CO
Date Published:
September 12, 2021
Distance:
16.37
mi
Elevation:
1283
ft
Gravel Ratio:
75% G / 25% P
Difficulty Rating:
⛰⛰⛰
Enjoyability Rating:
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Download GPX File
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We've been wanting to try a muti-day, unsupported bikepacking trip for a while now, but were a little intimidated until we found an interesting route in the Gunnison National forest on bikepacking.com, and we found a small group of women who were willing to join in on the adventure! We did the 65-mile route over 3-days. Below is a review of day three's segment as we did it.
See Day One's route and review here.

See Day Two's route and Review here.

The entire (3-day) Pitkin bikepacking route

Highs:

There is easy rolling, packed dirt once you get on County Road 887 with nice views of the Hot Springs Reservoir.

It was helpful that we'd seen/ridden the majority of the route in reverse on Day 1, and therefore knew what to expect.

The Climb up Black Sage Pass features lots of cows and has views of Tomichi Dome that will take your breath away. Maybe because it was a Monday and we were biking in the morning, we saw very few ATVs on the pass (unlike our experience going up from the other direction on a Saturday).

The final 5 miles of the day that got us back to our cars was on fast pavement with beautiful views of the Tomichi Creek that snakes down a green, grassy valley. We finished with a huge sense of accomplishment, having completed our first 3-day, unsupported, bikepacking trip with of some amazing and adventurous women.

Lows:

We were super disappointed that we weren't able to get reservations at the Waunita Hot Springs Ranch even though we called weeks in advanced. They were closed for a private event. 😢

The four-mile climb from the Waunita Hot Springs to the summit of Black Sage Pass is completely exposed. The grade is pretty gradual but the intense sun made for a sweaty effort.

Sand on the descent of Black Sage Pass was no more fun going down than up. It is totally bikeable- you just have to be careful and alert.

Do this ride if you want a shorter day to wrap up your 3-day bike pack, with the possibility of a mid-ride soak in the Waunita Hot Springs.

Other Notes:

Cell phone reception was spotty. We were glad we had uploaded the GPX file at home before we left and could easily follow the route on our Wahoo bike computers.

We camped at the corner of County Road 885A and the road that parallels the Hot Springs Creek. Watch out for cow pies! The water in the creek was flowing, but it was pretty dirty from lots of cows in the area. We were able to skim top water and filter it for cooking and drinking, but we definitely recommend back flushing your filters afterwards to clean out the sludge you'll collect.

The Waunita Hot Springs Ranch has water, sodas and snacks, bathroom.

We did this in early September. Day temps were warm (especially in the exposed areas), and night time temps were cool (low 40's). Keep in mind that the route goes up over 10,000 feet. Snow often occurs well into June and again as early as October, so this is best done in Summer and early Fall.

This could easily be done as a one-day, out-and-back excursion. Park where we started on day one (the Daly Gulch parking area just off highway 50) and bike to the Hot Spring, and back.

To wrap up your trip and celebrate, drive a few miles into Sargents, CO and visit the Tomichi Trading Post for some home-cooked food and ice cold beers.

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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