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FR579 Cascade Divide Rd(ow)

This may be a good access route to reach the Colorado Trail a few miles east of Bolam Pass - for somebody willing to walk the bike a lot, and deal with lots of downed timber over a very short distance. As for me - I was content to turn around at the end of the double track. And so I am going to write this up as a out-and-back summit - and a very scenic route it is. Looking at the bright side, going back down Cascade Divide Rd is about 1000 times as scenically interesting, than going down the shorter east side of Bolam Pass, which would have been the decent from the Colorado Trail summit point. Turning in the other direction on the Colorado Trail would be a hard workout over Rolling Mountain Pass.

1.START-END EAST:jct US550 - Lime Creek Rd, north of Purgatory ski area
2.route turns right into Purgatory ski area
3.FR579 Hermosa Park Rd s(u)
4.jct Relay Creek Rd - Cascade Divide Rd
5.route turns into rocky jeep trail
6.TOP:11200ft - end of Cascade Creek Rd


From East.
The profile starts at a point slightly below the Purgatory Ski area on US550. Turning off US550 you have the impression of entering private land, since you are passing under a ski area arch of sorts. A small sign also informs that this is National Forest access route. The next turnoff onto the forest road is not quite as well marked. A good dirt road climbs across from the Needle Mountains to a the small FR578 Hermosa Park Rd summit. After an ever so small decent, a sign in the forest offers a choice between Hemosa Park and Cascade Divide/Relay Creek. Cascade Divide it is. One more uphill choice at the next fork and the climb is really getting under way.

The excellent dirt road, which will make a lightning fast decent, lasts to about 10500ft. Curiously, where the surface deteriorates into a rocky jeep road, the interesting scenery starts too.  Now traversing along the hillside, the road skirts along below several 12000 ft peaks on one side, and an ever changing view of Engineer Mtn on the other. Small rocky descents lead to intermediate low points at stream crossings.

Finally the road makes one last push upwards, and a last series of switchbacks lead to a trailhead. According to the map the Colorado Trail is not far from here. But during my last visit much downed timber made progress extremely slow and difficult.

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow

Dayride without two way summits and this point as highest one-way summit:

( < FR578 Hermosa Park Rd s(u) | Red Mountain No3 Road s(u) > )

Cascade Divide Rd(ow) : :near jct FR591 - US550, north of Purgatory Ski area <> US550 south <> Purgatory Ski area <> up FR578 <> up FR579 <> turnaround point at end of road and beginning of trail: 37.8miles with 4370ft of climbing in 5:50hrs (garmin etrex30 m5:21.6.30).