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Hoosier Pass (Breckenridge Area)

Hoosier Pass crosses from valley of the Blue River in the south, to the highest of Colorado's arid parks, South Park. For the road cyclist it is the highest pass connecting with South Park. Compared with other paved ways to exit South Park, this climb is bigger, and it is also lined with bigger mountain also.

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1.(mile00,9595ft) START-END NORTH: downtown Breckenridige
2.(mile10,11541ft) TOP: Hoosier Pass
3.(mile16,10332ft) turnoff to Mosquito Pass on the south side of Alma is on right
4.(mile21,9936ft) START-END SOUTH: Fairplay


From North. Considering the amount of ski terrain that is surrounding Breckenridge's Main Street, its businesses are all of all fairly  "family sized". I mean to say - there are no high rise hotel complexes in sight, like there would be in Vail or Copper Mountain.The turnoff to the Boreas Pass Rd is one traffic light south of the junction Main Street - Co9.

Co9 makes its way through suburbia-like summer homes hidden in the forested slopes in safe distance. Some are accessible through unpaved county roads, others hide behind private development entrances.

During my last descend of this approach, on a Friday afternoon in June, traffic conditions were such that I was looking for a way to get away from the traffic by detouring over some of these summer cottage lined, unpaved county roads. Here is what I found: A turnouff over Doris Dr, Reno Rd and Quandary Dr. leads back to the main road on Co9 after a short distance. The relief from traffic was appreciated, but only temporary.

Also - on a mountain bike you can detour over Blue River Rd, the a single track trail on the west side of Goose Pasture Tam (a lake), and then continue through residential streets, avoiding most of the lower part of Co9 - a more substantial form of relief. But then - during most parts of the year, traffic is (hopefully) not so much a problem.

After the summer homes come the switchbacks and the gigantic snow lined mountains behind them. The range to the west is the Tenmile Range, containing a popular 14000 foot hiking destination, Mount Quandary. The trailhead is on the top of the pass. The summit also defines the continental divide. The range on the west side of the pass changes from Tenmile Range to the north (Pacific watershed) to Mosquito Range in the south (Atlantic watershed). The mountains to the east of the pass tend to be more rounded and are part of the Front Range.

From South. (also described upwards). A nice bikepath parallels the road from Fairplay to Alma. In the left field of view the Mosquito Range slides by, including peaks over 14000ft, Mounts Lincoln, Democrat and Bross. The drainage up Mosquito Gulch to Mosquito Pass seems to be buried under snow, even when the rest of the state is complaining of a winter drought and the coming forest fire season.

Unfortunately the bike path stops in Alma, but surprisingly the traffic also becomes lighter. But even more unfortunately, the rest of the road to the summit is just perfect for cars, with barely any turns. Traffic can be such, that drivers don't see themselves compelled to slow down for cyclists in oncoming traffic. It is a kind of crowd mentality of 10 or more trailgating drivers.

The last snow speckled mountains on the horizon of the other side already belong to the Gore Range. Real Estate agents also find the view inspiring, the first objects can already be seen, liberally sprinkled through the forest below, the vaction and ski housing scene of Breckenridge.

going up from Fairplay: view up Mosquito Gulch before reaching Alma


After its existence as a trail for Ute Indians, word of the pass first reached back east from the Pike expedition. He described the areas as the headwaters of the Arkansas River. But he did not explore them any further, believing that the headwaters of the Yellowstone were just on the other side.

Fremont (<Muddy Pass|Currant Creek Pass>): In the summer of 1844 a group of former trappers, guides and traders, now part of the US military under the command of Lieutenant Fremont, surveyed a small part of Colorado for possible immigration and military routes. Arriving in the valley of the Blue River, continuing south, Fremont had several passes to choose from. Georgia Pass was the pass of choice in June of 1844. But it was being used by Arapahoe Indians, apparently preparing for war with Utes living in South Park. Fremont crossed the range over today's Hoosier Pass, estimating its height with his new barometer at 11200 feet, about 340 feet short of the actual height. Entering South Park, Fremont realized that he was in the drainage of the South Platte, which was no small feat for the time. He exited South Park by heading roughly for Currant Creek Pass.

Colorado Gold Rush of 1859/60 (<French Pass|Mosquito Pass>): In late 1860 the Colorado Gold Rush was in its second year. During that year Hoosier Pass was one of four passes crossing the mountains separating South Park from the valley of the Blue River in Breckenridge. Hoosier Pass was first prospected up the existing Indian trail from the Breckenridge side. Being natives of Indiana they called the pass Hoosier, what else ? The miners promptly described the pass as too unnavigable to be of any use. But by 1861, at least nine wagons had crossed over it. For the highest pass pioneered by miners see Mosquito Pass.

Modern Highways: Today's main connection between South Park and the Blue River Valley took many years to become just that. In 1864 the Denver South Park railroad surveyed a route over the pass. But it was eventually built over Boreas Pass. In 1866 the Union Pacific even received a recommendation to use the pass for its transcontinental line. But the UP's rails would bypass Colorado altogether. Rails never crossed the pass. But cars did. By 1918 a good gravel road crossed the pass. The gravel conditions lasted till at least 1962.

Cycling-Ride the Rockies: (<Gore Pass|Hoosier Pass>): Between 1986 and 2005 the pass has been crossed once by the Denver Post's "Ride the Rockies" during 87, on a stage between Buena Vista and Breckenridge, which also included  Trout Creek Pass. The previous day  crossed Monarch Pass, while the following day was spent riding over Loveland Pass. The links, adjacent to the heading follow passes in order of how often they have been crossed by the Denver Post sponsored ride.

Highest Point: 11541ft

Northern Approach: paved road
from Breckenridge (9595ft)

Southern Approach: paved road

from Fairplay (9936ft)