Several weeks ago Captain Hike-a-Bike sent me a very direct email. He'd just finished the Colorado Trail Race and insisted that I "run, don't walk" down to ride and gawk on the Coney/Cataract section of that route.
It took me 10 days to get it together enough to get out of the shop, but just a few days ago Moobs, Jabroni, and myself made it down there for an overnight bikepacking trip.
The Captain was correct--it is worth running, not walking to.
See for yourself:
We started in Silverton and rode over Cinnamon Pass and down (almost) to Lake City before peeling off onto a doubletrack and climbing. And climbing. And climbing some more to intersect the Colorado Trail, which we then rode (after camping, the next day) back to Silverton.
That climbing paid off with the views you saw above. What the views don't show is the amount and quality of *rideable* singletrack above 12,000 and even 13,000'. I'd guesstimate that we spent 8+ hours above 12k on the CT, and maybe as much as 2 hours above 13k. Just astonishing to be *up* that high and cruising along in your middle ring.
Make no mistake--it's not a cake walk. Lots of hike a bike. Hours upon hours of steep, granny gear climbing. Limited filterable water up high. Huge (potential) exposure to t-storms.
And worth every iota of sweat that it cost. This one will become an annual for me, no doubt about it.