Background photo - U.S. #5 Pikes Peak CO.
Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, traversing Rocky Mountain National Park. It offers spectacular views along the giant switchbacks from miles 4-14 and on up to the summit at a whopping 12,000'. This climb begins just 3 miles northwest of Estes Park, CO (we recommend staying here as this is a very charming town). Trail Ridge Road is the northern most Top 100 climb in Colorado, and can easily be included in a Denver-Area Top 100 trip which would additionally include #97 Magnolia Dr (Boulder, CO - 44 miles south) and #11 Mt. Evans(Idaho Springs - 84 miles south). Throw in #5 Pikes Peak for good measure! (Colorado Springs - 147 miles south).
The first 9 miles of the climb are mild, with nice views of meadows and forest surroundings. We turn right at mile 5.45 onto Trail Ridge Rd which takes us another 12 miles to the summit of this climb. The views transition to mountains and canyon as we ride the next 7 miles and travel above tree line into more barren surroundings at around mile 16. Altitude is certainly a factor on this ascent as we exceed 12,000' which is rare (only 7 of the Top 100 U.S. climbs are above 12,000'). The road passes theContinental Divide at Milner Pass (elevation 10,758) which is about 8.9 miles down Trail Ridge Road after cresting the summit of our climb.
Roadway and Traffic Report: This road is in excellent condition with minimal shoulder, but also light traffic, particularly after turning onto Trail Ridge Road from Hwy 34 at the 5.5 mile mark.
Alternate Route - 24 additional miles, 3,000' more climbing - FIETS 9.09 moves Trail Ridge up to #47; We will adjust for this modification soon. Thanks to Charles Jurgensen, CO for this contribution and some of the slideshow photos, above.
Start(click and drag map; double click to move forward)
Hover cursor over segment slices (below) for exact grade of a particular segment. Map route (bottom) colors correlate with elevation legend colors.
Note: Click on “View full route" (top left) which opens the Trail Ridge RideWithGPS page. Hover over the distance line at the spot you would like to begin a sub- segment for this climb. Click your mouse on the start point and drag the vertical graphing line the distance you wish to obtain sub-detail from, then release the mouse at the end point. This will give you the following sub-detail for the selected segment in the “Metrics” window top right of the page: (a) distance, (b) elevation gained and lost, (c) max grade, (d) average grade (e) that segment's climb category – e.g. Cat 1, HC, etc., and (f) FIETS score for the segment.