Fall Mountain Ride

Though not for the faint of heart, the ride from Dillon to Breckenridge is a beautiful one, especially in the fall, with changing aspens and most importantly breweries in both towns. The only drawback is that the breweries are clustered at the ends, leaving a 15-mile dry stretch in between (or you could stop in Frisco). On a recent Saturday ride I started in Dillon, found the trail along the inside of the dam, then rode mostly uphill to Broken Compass in Breckenridge. The ride skirts Lake Dillon and provides spectacular views of the water, the mountains, and the fall color.I had hoped to get the hard uphill work out of the way first and be rewarded with some beer and a downhill cruise – not so much.

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Starting out on Dillon Dam

Broken Compass was a rewarding stopping point with about a dozen taps of various brews, with a heavier representation of IPAs. Everyone in our group seemed happy with what they tried and I particularly enjoyed the hefeweizen and a couple of chili beers. As far as atmosphere, it’s a typical mountain brewery with an industrial/ski lodge mashup and a large, sunny patio. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful to accommodate our large group of bikers, even though they were already pretty busy. Overall, a great experience.

Heading back to Dillon I was enjoying a relaxed downhill cruise, until it wasn’t. The trail is easy to follow and is well-signed but contains a long, steep, winding uphill section. Then  when you finally think you’re out of the woods  (literally and figuratively) the part

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Fall color starting

along the reservoir contains more ups and downs. To attempt this, at elevation, you should probably be in at least moderate shape.

After turning off the trail near the end of the dam we visited the appropriately-named Dillon Dam Brewery. It has a spacious mountain-lodge feel and also a wide variety of brews. I only had one – the Zuma Zen Marzen – but it was a solid fall beer, malty and roasty. Other riders offered mixed reviews of the beers – average to great – but after the long ride most people were focused on water and food. In contrast to the beer, the food got great reviews all around. It’s the typical slightly-gourmet bar fare – burgers, Mexican, mac & cheese – but seemed carefully prepared and tasty.

Onward to The Bakers Brewery, which involves riding mostly streets and sidewalks downhill under the I70 and then back uphill to a perch overlooking the highway and Dillon. The decor is kind of IHOP, but with a bar, and the beers were decent. It’s definitely a convenient stop right off the highway if you’re heading to the mountains but probably not worth going out of the way. They also serve food, though I didn’t try any there.

Finally, back under the bridge and back up a killer hill into downtown Dillon. Seriously. Killer. Hill. Especially after all the riding, food, and beer. Just be ready.  One nice thing is that this route that lots of add-ons or other options. A couple more miles and a few hundred feet of elevation in Breck will get you to Breckenridge Brewing, Backcountry Brewing is in Frisco near the trail, and Pug Ryans is right in downtown Dillon. The route could also obviously be driven with a DD. Overall, a great ride with spectacular views and probably several more good weeks of fall color.

Click Here For Full Route

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