Page Contributor(s): Bruce Hamilton, La Quinta, CA, USA; Stacy Topping, Tacoma, WA, USA
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Cycling Slumgulion Pass - a Colorado outlier US 100 bike climb.
Ride 7.6 miles gaining 2,737’ to elevation 11,544 at 6.8% average grade.
Short with a pop. It is a ways out there (we ended up being taken through a very remote area by our GPS that included 15 miles of dirt road through the mountains - this was a miscue by the GPS we believe - there are clearly paved roads to Lake City!). Interestingly, the word “slumgulion” defines a cheap or insubstantial stew. However, there is nothing insubstantial about this climb!
The climb begins just south of the quaint town of Lake City Co and is one of only 4 Top 100 U.S. Climbs (all in Colorado) that begin over 8,000’ - a nosebleeder 8,843’! A portion of the Wikipedia summary for the town states: “In 1978, the Lake City Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Residents have restored many of the boom town mining era buildings and currently promote tourism as an industry.”
The climb begins just south of Lake City on Hwy 149.
This climb is moderately steep throughout (average of just under 7%) and does ramp up to 10+% in places. Altitude is also a factor as the pass tops out above 11,000’.
There are excellent views of the canyon as you look back or to your right while following the northern ridgeline. There is also a nice view spot of Lake San Cristobal (photo) to the southwest (right) at the elbow of the giant switchback at mile 2.5.
The climb is through thickly forested Gunnison National Forest. It is not a climb you would drive from Denver or other distant locations exclusively to climb, but if you are in the area, it is certainly worth the effort to get to and climb it!
Enter Gunnison National Forest (1,672,136 acres/2,613 square miles;
Created in 1905 by Teddy Roosevelt) at mile 4.8
Steepest ¼ mile begins at mile 5.9 (10.2%), steepest mile begins at .2 (8.6%)
The road is a mildly travelled highway and is in good condition. There is no shoulder to speak of, but because the grade of the climb is fairly steep, trucks seemed to labor up it, although we did not experience much truck traffic during our ride on a weekday in August. The traffic flow is moderate for the first part and mild towards the top.
Slumgullion during the fall.
As with all higher altitude climbs, seek out weather information before clipping in and bring clothes appropriate for 20+ degree temperature variations and precipitation if that is in the forecast.
Short answer: This is a fun climb through thick forest in remote Southern Colorado out of a charming little lake community that is worth the effort if you are in the neighborhood.
Thank you Bruce and Stacy!!