Vail Pass East Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Vail Pass East


The only paved Pass in Colorado accessed on a bicycle from both sides.

Page Contributor(s): Steve Jones, Olympia, CO

Explore this Climb

PJAMM Cycling LogoDark Sky logo



If you love climbing by bike and would like more detailed information on the world’s top bike climbs, join our PJAMM Cycling group and receive our Special Edition Climb Report.
  • Receive a monthly report.
  • Get detailed and entertaining information on the greatest bike climbs and climbing areas throughout the world.
  • Discover beautiful landscapes with drone video and professional photos of remote and exotic places.
  • Gain insider knowledge on where to stay and how to conquer some of the most difficult climbs.

Climb Summary

Cycling the very popular Vail Pass from Copper Mountain (east)

Climb report from PJAMM’s Steve Jones, Olympia, WA (photos by PJAMM).

Vail Pass, Colorado (10,600 ft.) is likely the only 10,000-foot pass in the United States that can be cycled on both sides of the pass on a dedicated, paved bike path.

The climb of the east side of the pass begins at the Copper Mountain Resort (parking, services) alongside Interstate 70 above the ski towns of Dillon, Silverthorne, and Frisco.  

The first 2 miles of the climb are on Copper Road in the Copper Mountain resort area.

Turn right onto Vail Pass Trail at mile 1.2

Bike-related signs are placed at key points along the climb.

West Tenmile Creek is visible much of the climb.

Cross the bridge at mile 5

The bike path leaves Copper Mountain and climbs five miles (and ascends 900 feet) to the summit of the pass.  The cyclist barely notices the close proximity of I-70 as the bike path ascends the meadows in the wide swath between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the interstate.  

The bike path runs between the east and west lanes of Interstate 70.

You're almost there when you reach the tunne.

The summit itself is rather disappointing as the bike path ends at the truck lot of the summit rest area.

The climb of the west side of Vail Pass can begin in the town of Vail, at Bighorn Park, or at Gore Creek Campground, where the grade steepens and the ascent begins.  From the campground, the climb is 9.7 miles, gaining 1,872 feet.  While both sides of the pass follow a bike path, the west side is far less secluded, with significant portions immediately adjacent to I-70.  Other portions follow a road that is now closed to cars.

The descent of both the east and west sides require close attention to several steep, tight turns and vigilance for on-coming cyclists.

Thank you Steve.

That’s a wrap!!