August 6, 2018

CO: Monarch Crest - Fooses OnB

The car was loaded and heading south out of Breckenridge shortly after 5a. The outside temp gauge on my car read 39ยบ as I cleared Hoosier Pass, good thing I brought my puffy jacket.

It's a long haul back to the Valley of the Sun and I wanted to fit in a quick ride...or two?? The Monarch Crest was an obvious choice. I could do an out-n-back to where the Colorado Trail drops down Fooses Creek for a nice 10 mile high alpine spin.
Captivating early light in the Arkansas Valley.

Fire in the sky.

Collegiate Peaks overlook.

3 panel labeling of the Collegiate Peaks.

Monarch Pass was relatively quiet for an early Monday morning. I donned the jacket and began pedaling before 8a.
The trailhead is easy enough to find.

The Monarch Crest also doubles as the Continental Divide trail & Colorado Trail (Collegiate West)

The first mile follows a contour through the trees before dumping out on a chunky steep-ish dirt road for a bit.

Soon, the route is back on pristine singletrack flirting with treeline. Monarch Pass is on the far left where the pavement meets the ski runs.

US50 cuts a swath along the mountainside.

It was a perfect cool morning to be up here.

Some notable peaks to the south.

This is what makes the Crest so popular, easy access to singletrack above treeline. There's also the argument about the mega-long downhill for the shuttle riders. One of these days I'll do the full ride down to Poncha Springs.

I had the whole place to myself.

Singletrack to the edge of the Earth.

The ride season is short up here, get it while you can.

Postcard photos every which way.

The trail doesn't quite reach 12k, coming a few feet short.

Halfway to Marshall Pass from Monarch lies Fooses Creek.

Fooses is where the CT splits into an east & west section. Collegiate West is mostly Wilderness beyond US50, so bikers & CTR riders take Collegiate East.

I had to pause here for a few moments and reflect on my CTR. The Fooses downhill really changed my outlook on the entire ride.

Fooses Creek trail drops abruptly off the ridge, then mellows out for a few miles of downhill ripping.

Peaks to the north.

Looking south.

Time to head back. I wonder how I'd feel about this trail if I had come up it?

This was a particularly interesting area.
The shuttle riders must've been about 45 minutes behind me as I now began to see a steady stream of riders coming at me. I think I counted about 30 in total, everyone of them grinning ear-to-ear. Only one guy yelled at me in jest: 'You're going the wrong way!!' Ha!

Back at the car by 9:30a. Right on schedule.
I'm really glad a made the stop here. The Crest is a really fun ride with an abundance of payoff. Fooses was a solid choice for the out-n-back too, just long enough to feel that high alpine experience, yet short enough for a drive-by ride.

As long as I made good time through the Gunnison Valley, I had my sights set on an early afternoon ride in Telluride...


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