Hardscrabble Pass is a crossing in low forested mountains
north west of the Sawatch Range. Both approaches lead from
light colored badland hills into forested mountains. The
approach from the west is quite obvious and open to
motorized traffic, even when I didn't meet any at all during
my last traversal of the route on a weekday. The surface is
generally very smooth and extremely bikable during dry
weather. In contrast the approach from the east offers many
approach options, including unsigned single tracks with
several confusing junctions and access points. The route is
more easily identified in a downward direction. The saddle
is marked on National Forest maps and included in Helmuths'
book "passes of Colorado".
click on profile for more detail
|01.(6310ft,mile00) START-END WEST:
02.(6340ft,mile01) right turn onto Valley Road
03.(6400ft,mile01) left turn onto Cooley Mesa Road
04.(6520ft,mile03) right turn onto Spring Gulch Road
05.(7620ft,mile06) stay right at this fork. Left goes
to the top of Hardscrabble Mtn.
06.(8859ft,mile08) Hardscrabble Saddle
07.(8300ft,mile10) profile diverges from Abrams Gulch,
taking a right. All trails single track.
08.(9066ft,mile11) TOP: point of highest altitude
09.(8950ft,mile12) profile continues left
10.(7890ft,mile13) profile continues right
11.(6600ft,mile18) outskirts of Eagle. End of single
track. Beginning of Abrams Gulch Drive
12.(6600ft,mile19) Eagle, intersection with US6
From West. The profile starts in Gypsum, turns up
Valley road ( same as Cottonwood Pass ), the turns onto Cooley
Mesa Road towards the Eagle airport. At the airport Spring Gulch
Road turns south. It turns to a very rolling but smooth dirt
track traversing a trashed BLM area that has been restricted
because of people who can't hold their Coors Light, which is
probably why they drink Coors Light in the first place. There
are many forks in this lower area and most of them just converge
back to the main route. The one or two that don't can be
eliminated by a little sense of direction and riding down them
for a couple of hundred yards. The pass is in the direction of
the power lines that disappear on the mountain. The route climbs
high above the valley and affords good views of the unique light
colored soft rock outcrops south of Gypsum. The track traverses
back around the west side of the gentle but big forested
Hardscrabble Mountain ahead and finally climbs straight for the
gap separating the drainage to the east. Several double track
trails diverge immediately before the pass and at its top. All
of them lead to points with a higher altitude than this pass.
The description follows the double track trail that seems to
cross the pass and decend the other side. It is signed as a dead
end trail open to motor vehicles. After a short decent it
becomes an easily ridable forested single track trail that forks
after a stream crossing in a small meadow. The trail to the left
following the stream more closely eventually ends in a tangle of
woods, in spite of the fact that topo maps show it decending
directly into Abrams Gulch. The right fork climbs over the next
ridge where it reaches its highest altitude and then joins a
double track trail at a spot with a great view on the Sawatch
The spot where this narrow steep single track joins the
double track is difficult to recognize from the other side.
Riding up from the east, it is located right after a straight
steady climb in a long meadow. The double track makes an abrupt
90 deigree turn to the left and a metal stake marks the take off
point of the single track trail. At exactly this point the first
far view of the Wasatch Range is visible roughly behind.
From East. The approach is described in a downward
direction. At this point it may seem like all the work is over.
But there still is more rough stuff ahead. After a short
decent back into the forest the rider is forced to choose
between another fork. Both forks cross gates. The description
follows the left fork. The decent now becomes a little rockier
and leads to yet another fork. The route to Gypsum goes downhill
to the right on a trail signed as being closed to motorized
traffic after a few miles. It then becomes a single track that
cruises straight into Gypsum to the end of Abram's Gulch Drive.
Even though this is a public access point it is necessary to
lift the bike over a fence at this point, and voila you are now
in the middle of suburbia in the mountains.
A ride from Dotsero, approaching the pass via Gypsum,
descending to Eagle and retuning to Dotsero on paved US6
measuered 41 miles with 4520ft of climbing in 4.52 hours, using
an onboard cyclometer with altimeter (m3:06.08.26). This also
includes following the dead end, mentioned in the western
approach section to its end, plus a few other minor wrong turns.