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Interocean Pass

Interocean Pass is a trail in the West Elk Mountains, that is relatively little known to mountain bikers. But this trail really shows off the scenic specialties of this area, which is a combination of montane, canyon and plateau characteristics. The top of the pass is below treeline. But there are still some great views along the way.

The southern approach has many good vantage points onto the West Elk Mountains, glowing with streaks of red in late light. On the other side, the northern approach leads by a rock monument, surrounded by farms instead of tourist trappings. The track is not forbiddingly steep in the north to south direction (just very steep), and I remember it as being relatively smooth (but it has been a while). Most of the jeep trail sections contain fewer rocks than many other high Colorado passes. The major exception to everything above is the steep rocky grade below point 10. The pass is not on the continental divide, as might be inferred by the name.

click on profile for more detail
1 (mile00,5680ft) START/END-NORTH: 39.00 Rd, north of Crawford, take good dirtroad heading east
2 (mile01,5730ft) go right at T intersection
3 (mile03,5910) stay left
4 (mile08,6970ft) go left around Needle Rock
5 (mile09,7280ft) go left, up left side of valley on jeep trail
6 (mile11,7650ft) stay on lower route to the right, now a trail
7 (mile13,8410ft) turn left up hill
8 (mile15,9670ft) route splits. Higher summit is on left. Routes converge at point 10. The profile shows route to the left
9 (mile15,9760ft) TOP - take the right fork. Route descends soon.
10 (mile16,9560ft) If you went to the higher summit, stay left. Otherwise continue straight.
11 (mile19,7530ft) take the left at the T onto a good jeep trail
12 (mile19,7390ft) Lone Cabin Reservoir
13 (mile20,7650ft) take left at T
14 (mile23,6270ft) take right at T
15 (mile24,5870ft) take left at T
16 (mile25,5690ft) START/END-SOUTH: Paonia


From South. The profile starts at the turnoff onto G00 Drive, roughly 5 miles north of Crawford, on 39.00 Rd. The main scenic attraction of the whole route may well be before the climb starts. South of Landsend Peak, surrounded by farms, stands the outline of rock that looks like a volcanic plug, named Neede Rock.

There are only a few more miles of climbing on a narrow smooth jeep trail before the trail turns single track. Distant views of Needle Rock, now from far above, accompany the rider, until he finally disappears into a whispering canopy of aspen, and later needle trees. The top of the pass is forested.

From North. (also described upwards) The approach from Paonia shows off the special characteristics of this narrow stretch of landscape, the transition between the Rocky Mountains and the Colorado Plateau. Here the mountains seem to sit on tables. The West Elks with the colorful sedimentary rocks provide for lots of up and down riding, surrounded by sagebrush, before the the forest begins. The final 1000ft to the top, from this side is much steeper and rockier than from the south. Time for me to take a long walk.



Interocean Pass : near jct 39.00rd - Co92 > 39.00rd west > Needle Rock > up Interocean Pass Tr > Interocean Pass > Paonia > Co92 back to starting point: