Ride this route in the fall and you’ll roll through you’ll roll through miles of golden trees lining the gorge to your right. The first climb up Battle Mountain is about 4 miles long and tops out at around 9200 feet. On the descent, you’ll cross the Eagle River and continue past Red Cliff and Camp Hale, but all you’ll really notice are the open fields and mountain peaks poking up in the distance.
The climb up Tennessee Pass is five miles, taking you to about 10,300 feet, but like Battle Mountain, it’s a steady grade and not too steep. Just before the summit, there is a little house on your right with a sign that reads “Water for cyclists.” Fill up from the Gatorade jug.
On top of Tennessee Pass, you can turn around and head home, or keep going towards Leadville for a more epic ride. The way back is the real treat, with views of the gorges zooming by in a hurry. Look for the waterfall to your left as you begin the return descent of Battle Mountain. Use caution descending: the shoulder is narrow and there may be rocks in the road. Also, be sure to bring warm clothes for the descent; it’s not a bad idea to ride late morning and leave time for the sun to melt any high-altitude road-side snow.
-Mapped by Melanie Wong