The Lake City Alpine 50 is an epic, 50-mile, alpine endurance bike race with 6,000+ feet of climbing.
The course heads out from downtown Lake City, Colorado onto Highway 149 towards Lake San Cristobal. Lake City’s namesake was formed by a rare natural earthflow called the Slumgullion Slide, which blocked the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River, creating the second-largest natural lake in Colorado and one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire state of Colorado.
The course heads onto Hinsdale County Road 33 (at mile 3.65), a dirt road located on the East side of Lake San Cristobal. Be on the lookout for moose, osprey, and bald eagles as the sun starts to cast its rays across this gorgeous lake. Crossing the bridge over the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River (at mile 6.65), the course heads back onto Hinsdale County Road 30 skirting the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River for the next approximately 13 miles before the climbing starts to get really tough at the American Basin turnoff. Along the way, you will pass by three 14,000-foot peaks (Handies, Sunshine, and Redcloud) and various abandoned mining towns (Carson, Sherman, and Burrows Park). You will also catch views of American Basin, a stunning wildflower wonderland and one of the most photographed places in Colorado. For the next 2.6 miles above American Basin, your lungs will be tested (1,350 feet of climbing) as you approach the top of 12,640-foot Cinnamon Pass.
You will then descend from Cinnamon Pass (yes, it does get rough here, gravel bikes be warned) for a little under two miles near Animas Forks (11,200 feet), a ghost town, but once a bustling mining town and one of the highest mining camps in the Western United States. The one and only aid station will await you (goodies, water, and Hammer HEED) before the big climb up towards Engineer Pass. After the Animas Forks descent, for the next 4.6 miles you will ascend (about 1,600 feet) to Engineer Pass (12,800 feet) before making a nearly nineteen-mile fast descent (once again, very rocky – again, gravel bikes be warned…think big tires and suspension perhaps) along Henson Creek, which includes passing through Capitol City (a small ghost town along Nellie Creek), the once booming Ute-Ulay Mine and Mill, and then back to Lake City to finish the race in Lake City’s Town Park.