My ride began at the Shirley Site trailhead at 8700' in elevation. From the trailhead, the route to the Continental Divide at Marshall Pass follows FS Road 200. This dirt road travels over 12 miles and climbs more than 2000 feet before reaching Marshall Pass. Despite the elevation gain, the riding is pretty tame along FS 200. The road was at one time an old railroad grade on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. In the days of steam powered trains, the grades couldn't be to steep. As a result the route to Marshall Pass climbs at a gradual 3% grade. Not only is the climbing gradual, but the road is well maintained and generally pretty smooth. Any passenger car can make the climb without worry of ground clearance. I made the climb to the pass in under 90 minutes, spinning casually up the dirt road without too much exertion.
|The northern Sangre de Cristos come|
into view early on the ride
|O'Haver Lake with Antora Peak and Sheep Mtn in the distance|
Even though the entire route stays below treeline, there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Not too far from the start, the road passes through clearings and meadows that open up the views. There are several chances to look across the valley to the long spine of the Sangre de Cristo Range. Numerous other alpine peaks stand just to the south with 13er Antora Peak being the most prominent. The most dominating view from the road is of 13,971' Mt. Ouray. Much of the ride up to the pass, Mt Ouray looms just ahead. From the road, you travel directly toward Ouray's giant cirque referred to as the Devil's Armchair. Where the road travels through the woods, much of the route is lined with large groves of aspens much of the way.
|Easy riding on Marshall Pass Road with|
Mt. Ouray in the distance
|Mt Ouray and the Devil's Armchair|
|Plenty of aspens along the way to Marshall Pass|
|Clouds closing in on Mt Ouray|
|Grazing cattle near Marshall Pass|
|Start of Starvation Creek Trail|
|Startvation Creek Road doesn't stay smooth very long|
|Antora Peak and Sheep Mtn.|
|Clouds starting obscure the Sangres|
|The Starvation Creek singletrack is just below in the meadow|
|One last look at Mt Ouray|
|Dropping into the singletrack on the Starvation Creek Trail|
|Reentering the forest on nice singletrack|
|Overgrown section of trail|
|At times the trail was just a few feet from the Creek|
|Crossing a stretch of talus|
|Cruising through the aspens|
|The Starvation Creek Valley is visible here|
|Riding through a meadow near the end|
of the Starvation Creek Trail
This route is accessible from the Monarch Crest, one of the most popular rides in Colorado. There are several descents from the Continental Divide and the Monarch Crest that are more popular than Starvation Creek. I haven't ridden them yet, so I can't compare them to Starvation Creek. I do know Starvation Creek see quite a bit less traffic than many of the other routes. I have to say that Starvation Creek was a blast to ride. I will definitely check out the other trails at some point and give a comparison.
Although the weather became more dreary as I rode, I never saw any rain. The clouds were low enough to obscure the summit of 13,971' Mt Ouray. The cloud cover helped keep the long climb up Marshall Pass from getting too hot. Not too long after my ride, showers and thunder storms moved through the area.
|Antora Peak and its neighbors from the upper|
part of the Starvation Creek Trail
|Nice stretch of singtrack through the forest|
|Another fine stretch of trail|