Black Bear Road

San Juan National Forest, Colorado

Distance8.8mi
Elevation Gain7,060ft
Trailhead Elevation11,076ft
Top12,841ft
Elevation Min/Max9533/12841ft
Elevation Start/End11076/11076ft

Black Bear Road

Black Bear Road is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in San Miguel County, San Juan County, and Ouray County, Colorado. It is within San Juan National Forest and Uncompahgre National Forest. It is 8.8 miles long and begins at 11,076 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 18.0 miles with a total elevation gain of 7,060 feet. The Cascade Tunnel Mine (elevation 10,909 feet) quarry and the Black Bear Pass saddle can be seen along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Bridal Veil and 636 Road.

Black Bear Road Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, Vol. 1 (FunTreks)
Charles A. Wells
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"This route features incredible views from high above Red Mountain Pass and Telluride. Close-up views of historic mines and dramatic waterfalls. Pass by the top and bottom of spectacular Bridal Veil Falls. This road is closed November through May 1st. ATVs are allowed, but remember, if you go down the one-way switchbacks, you can’t go back up. A pick-up vehicle would have to be waiting at the bottom. Most of the trail is easy to moderate. The difficult rating is based on a mile-long stretch of dangerous switchbacks above Bridal Veil Falls. (One way, downhill only.) Hardly a summer passes without some kind of accident. The latest accident occurred in July of 2004. A couple died when their Jeep went off the road and plummeted about 900 ft. Your vehicle must have low-range 4WD, good tires, good brakes and an excellent emergency brake. In addition, it must have excellent articulation or a differential locker. Without these last two features, your tires may come off the ground when you back up to make the tight turns. This situation could lead to ultimate terror as you become stuck at a point when you are literally hanging over the edge. If you do not understand this paragraph, stay off this trail!"
4WD Adventures: Colorado (Adler Publishing )
Peter Massey & Jeanne Wilson
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"The one-way Black Bear Pass Trail is one of the more difficult 4WD trails included in this book. It can be dangerous and has claimed many lives during the past thirty years. Just how difficult you will find it depends on your vehicle, your 4WD experience, and current road conditions. We have included it here for drivers who wish to try a more demanding road and because it is justly famous for its scenery. Special Attractions: Expansive views of Telluride, nestled in the valley four thousand feet below; Ingram and Bridal Veil Falls; The challenge of completing a difficult 4WD trail. This trail is for experienced four-wheel drivers only. It is potentially dangerous, with large rocks, ruts, or terraces that may need to be negotiated. It may also have stream crossings at least 18 inches deep, involve rapid currents, unstable stream bottoms, or difficult access; steep slopes, loose surfaces, and narrow clearances; or very narrow sections of shelf road with steep drop-offs and potentially challenging road surfaces."

Black Bear Road Trip Reports

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8/5/2018
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8/15/2010
A great ride, start on 550 near Red Mountain Pass, easy going, great vistas. When you get to the speed limit sign (15mph must be a joke) you've started down, some switchbacks the some technicals then the STEPS,we ran 15psi, wish I'd done 10. Really rough at first the meerly rough and steep, even with a short bas wrangler we had 2 and 3 point turns, saw 4door jeep and forerunner doing 3=5 point turns. Don't go in the rain really would be slick. Best ride ever.
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8/17/2008
Heed the cautions in the trail guide. 99.5% no problem but the 0.5% will give you the heepie-jeepies. The 1/4 mile from Ingram Falls to the first switchback is narrow and hairy. If you don't like to lean 'the wrong way' then don't enter the one-way section. Otherwise this is an extremely beautiful piece of country that makes you realize how lucky you are to be in it!
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7/26/2008
Have been both up and down this trail, and "the Steps" and switchbacks have high pucker factor. Be sure to air down for traction because it is very steep and a slip would be disaster.
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Black Bear Road Photos

Trail Information

San Juan National Forest
Nearby City
Uncompahgre National Forest
Parks
Uncompahgre National Forest
Local Contacts
Colorado Atlas and Gazetteer; Uncompahgre National Forest map; Trails Illustrated Silverton, Ouray #141
USGS San Juan County, San Miguel County #3; Trails Illustrated #141; USFS Uncompahgre National Forest, San Juan National Forest
Local Maps

Trail Log