Biking the Alpine Loop


Alpine Loop MapThe Alpine Loop follows jeep roads through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the United States, and was listed by Outside magazine as one of the ten best rides in the country. During summer months, you can see spectacular displays of alpine wildflowers, while September is the best time to appreciate the changing fall colors.  A variety of historical townsites, structures, and mines left over from the mining boom of the late 1800s add to the scenic interest.


Enter the Loop from Lake City, Silverton, or Ouray.  While many side trips are available, riders must remember to stay on designated routes to protect fragile alpine vegetation.  Colorado Columbine Byway signs clearly mark the route.  Many bike riders aim for a mountain pass a day, stopping in towns along the Loop overnight.  Camping is available along portions of the route.


  • Road surface is gravel and hardrock
  • Strong intermediate to advanced rating due to length and altitude
  • Route starts at about 9,000 feet and crosses several mountain passes
  • Cinnamon Pass = 12,615 feet and Engineer Pass = 12,795 feet
  • Total length is 45-55 miles depending on entry point
  • Plan on 3-4 days for the entire Loop

Maps and Guides

The Alpine Explorer is a 24-page guide to the area available from the BLM and the Western Colorado Interpretive Association for $4.00 (make checks payable to WCIA).

Photo of mountain bikers on Alpine LoopBLM 1:100,000 Surface Management Maps 

  • Montrose
  • Silverton

USGS Topographic Maps

  • Lake City
  • Lake San Cristobal
  • Redcloud
  • Handies Peak
  • Uncompahgre Peak
  • Howardsville
  • Silverton
  • Ironton