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Phantom Canyon - Shelf Rd shoulder summit


There are many big mountain biking climbing possibilities on Pike's Peak. There is a whole network of roads on the upper slopes connecting all these approaches. So there are really many more approach possibilities than the mentioned direct approaches.

This particular high point combines two approaches of very different character, one an old rail line through tunnels and over bridges - now a fairly wide, often dusty road with a roadbed engineered to carry a train, except in places where erosion has outpaced preservation efforts. The other approach is a steep jeep road - and the name Shelf Road says it all.

Pictures on this page are of the town of Cripple Creek, which for practical purposes is at the same height as the summit. Pictures of the two approaches are on the picture pages.



click on profile for more detail
01.(5280ft,mile00) START-END WEST: jct US50 and what becomes Fields Ave, Canyon City.
02.(6600ft,mile14) jct with Trail Gulch ( lower end of Shelf Road).
03.(6990ft,mile19) site of Marigold
04.(8800ft,mile25) Aregua Gulch joins on right
05.(9400ft,mile27) profile turns right from Shelf Road onto Co67
06.(9700ft,mile33) Victor
07.(9700ft,mile33) profile turns right from Co67 onto Phantom Canyon Road
08.(9760ft,mile36) TOP: aproximately highest point
09.(6130ft,mile55) first tunnel from bottom
10.(5470ft,mile62) START-END EAST: start of Phantom Canyon Rd at jct US50 - Co67.
11.(5160ft,mile65) START-END EAST ALTERNATE: Arkansas River crossing on Co67, just north of Florence

Approaches

From South West via Shelf Road. Both Fields Ave on the east side of Canyon City, and Red Canyon Ave further west, cross US50, and directly reach the paved road leading to Shelf Road. The road winds through a wide arrid valley, sometimes in diagonals, sometimes in a square pattern and sometimes in curves, as if to follow old land boundaries.

At the end of pavement two dirt roads lead to BLM campgrounds, as well as a few undeveloped sites on Bank Road. After a small drop, it becomes clear how the road got its name. It climbs to half height of the west side of a canyon. Cars may not stop on this section. This is the most scenic section of the road, but it is not very steep. That comes a little later, after the road passes under an arch that can't be missed from either side. Nearing the top, the large plateaus appearing in sight, are not the slopes of Pike's Peak, but huge tailing piles from industrial mine operations.

The profile joins paved Co67 just outside of Cripple Creek, but turns away from it, in favor of Victor. Both share a common history, but now they couldn't be any more different. Cripple Creek has become a gambling hole with many new buildings, that destroy the historic ambiance. While Cripple Creek missed out on the money, it has a pleasant air of historic decay to it. The section between the west side of Victor and the indicated summit of Phantom Canyon really consists of small rolling hills, and it's hard to tell where the real summit is.


From South East via Phantom Canyon. (also described as climb) Phantom Canyon is the extension of Co67, heading north from Florence. Its name is signed where it crosses US50. After crossing Mc Kenzie Road, Phantom Canyon swerves east, to follow the creek that has sliced through the first hogback. The road soon turns to dirt, following a uniformly sloping canyon. Where the slope wasn't quite as uniform, railroad cuts and two short tunnels help in making it so. Signs point out old railroad landmarks. After the route diverts through a wide side canyon, it climbs to half height of the main canyon and then traverses along its upper slope. The massive railroad cut now becomes the center of attention and this is the most scenic section of the road. After the route crosses a newly reconstructed bridge, it switches back to a southerly direction, and for the first time presents a view overlooking a part of the route traveled so far. Soon afterwards the Sangre de Cristo Range appear at the south western horizon. But there is still a nicer view of them to come right before the crest, and before the descent. You need a good topographic to figure out where the summit really is: by a tiny margin, a small distance to the east side of  Victor.

 
 











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