CO Flag

 

Fact Table:

Location South Central
High point 11361 ft
Max Grade 9.5%
Arv Rt Grade

Slmgl: 5.2%

Sprg Cr: 3.8%

Dist to High pt

10.5 mi to Slmgull.. 17 mi to Spr Cr

Elev Gain

2900 ft to Slm, 3400 ft to Spr

Rating Difficult
Access City Lake City

 

Location South Central
High point 11361 ft
Max Grade 6.5%
Arv Rt Grade

Spr Cr: 1.4%

Slmgl: 1.7%

Dist to High pt

32 mi to Spring Creek.. 40 mi to Slumgul

Elev Gain 2400 ft to Sprg Cr, 3500 ft to Slm
Rating Moderate
Access City Creede

 

Ride Tips:

  • Once you leave Lake City, there is nothing, I mean nothing, until Creede. And it's 50 miles. Bring any food and water you need with you.
  • Watch for altitude sickness as this is a high pass.
  • These roads are more narrow than you typically find. Ride single file and watch for vehicles.
  • This is a long haul. Plan lots of time and carry foul weather gear.

 

StormMile 25 out of Gunnison. Between two climbs
ConteValleyClimb out of valley about mile 32 from Gunnison

Rio Grande HeadwatersRio Grande Headwaters
Up SlumgumClimbing Slumgullion from Lake City
Up Slumgum2Steep grades on Slumgullion north face.
Up Slumgum3Roads on north face of Slumgullion
Lake CityView of Lake City from lower switch- backs
Spring ClimbLake/pond on Creede side of Spring Creek
Op Spring2South side of Spring Creek Pass. Wide open area.
RioViews west from Spring Creek Pass climb, Creede side.

Slumgum Spring Cr

Slumgullion/Spring Creek Summary

I’m doing something a little different with this pass… because this is a very different pass.  Depicted in this section is the 50 mile route between Lake City and Creede.  Under the Alternate route, is the 105 mile leg burner from Gunnison to Creede, a route loved by Colorado tours such as the Bicycle Tour of Colorado and the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bicycle Tour.  I don’t think Ride the Rockies ever did the century ride, and that’s their loss, for this really is a special ride.  Whether you opt for the shorter ride from Lake City, or go the whole nine yards, get ready for some of the most difficult sustained climbing Colorado has to offer (Lake City side), and the unsurpassed beauty of the Rio Grande valley.
Lake City is a beautiful little town Surrounded by the Gunnison, Uncompahgre, San Juan, and Rio Grande National forests.  It seems that all of the Colorado Mountain ranges meet at this one point and it is breath taking.  The town itself offers good food, fine beer, gourmet coffee, camping, lodging, and retail.  Best yet, it’s not too commercial.  You might get here and decide to stay. 
As you leave Lake City, enjoy the gentle 2% slope you encounter.  This three mile segment is the only rest you will get.  Also, if it takes you more than 3 miles to warm up and get the kinks out, you might want to ride around Lake City for an extra mile or two because after three miles, and for the next six, the grades are 7% to 9%, approaching 10% at points. The bottom half of this climb is actually worse that the top half.  Your first switchback is a mere three miles out of town, followed by a second a mile and a half later and a third a half mile later.  It’s steep here, upwards of 9%.       
After mile five, the climb mellows a bit for a mile, all the way down to a modest 4% to 6% grade, and then ramps right back up to 7%+ for about two miles.  After the first three switchbacks, the road straightens out a bit and just becomes a relentless climb.  You’re in the middle of the Gunnison National Forest here and are surrounded by thick forest.  There really are no long distance views here (the best views are of Lake San Cristobal at the start of the climb), and even when you get to the top, you have to wander around a bit to get the alpine views you come to expect at the top of a pass. 
The five mile downhill is short after such a grueling climb, hardly enough to get the strength back in your legs.  The max grade here is about 6% (which is nice if you are heading north, toward Lake City).  You lose about 1000 feet on the descent before you start your climb up Spring Creek.  Maxing out in the 5% range, the climb is a fairly short 2 miles.
The scenery begins to change drastically here.  Both sides of Slumgullion are shrouded in tree cover. But as you start up Spring Creek, it’s more arid and open.  You’re at the Rio Grande headwaters here and views are stunning and the climbing grades have backed off a bit.  The views are a bit more wide open here and you know you’ve left the alpine splendor and entered ranching land.  Spring Creek pass is little more than a wide spot in the road.
From Spring Creek, the descent into Creede is long and shallow.  If you’ve made the appropriate sacrifices to the wind gods, the wind will be at your back and you can more or less coast into Creede.  Your descent will be interrupted for a mile or so around mile 23 by a 3% speed bump, but, other than that, you can enjoy almost a 30 mile coast into Creede.
If you are riding from Creede, the climbing is much easier with grades that max out in the 6.5% range up Slumgullion and, for a brief time, up Spring Creek.  This ride is more one of distance than grade and while you gain some impressive altitude, it is drawn out over a long period of time.  Said another way, it takes you 40 miles to get to Slumgullion’s altitude from Creede, but only seven miles from Lake City.   

By the way, in my opinion, Creede is the best little town in Colorado. The people are great, the main street is alive, The ice cream and beer (not together) are great. They have a mining museum you will want to visit and, in every aspect, you can tell the people are proud of their little town.

NOTE: The road down Spring Creek on the Creede side was in terrible shape in 2009 due to cracks and frost heaves. Watch your speed on the descent. Also, there is a rough RR crossing outside if Creede. Again, use caution here

Alternate Route

Slumgum Century

Do you want a leg burning treat you won't soon forget? Try the 105 mile trek from Gunnison to Creede. I rate this as "Difficult Plus" from Gunnison and "Diffucult" from Creede based on milage and climbing.

From Gunnison, you can look forward to more than 7000 feet of climbing. Only Evergreen or Idaho Springs to Mt Evans gives you more. The grades up Slumgullion appraoch 10%. Nowhere else (except out of the Black Canyon) will you have sustained climbs like that. And, fron Gunnison, you'll have 3300 feet of climbing under your belt before you set foot in Lake City. This is a classic ride and if yu complete it, one that you can proudly say you completed.

In brief, from Gunnison, you tool around fairly flat until you get to the first climb about ten miles out of town. From there, it's a seven mile 1500 foot climb to the top of the mesa, and then two and a half miles among the rollers at the top. A four mile 900 foot downhill is a minor reward for the climb, but then again, you are faced with another fout mile 6%. The three mile downhill brings you into a nice river valley for a 20 mile gentle climb to Lake City.

If you are going toward Gunnison from Lake city, the 50 miles will add 2300 feet to your climb. The probelm here is, more than likely, the wind and heat. last time I did this ride, the temps were near 100 at road level and the headwinds were 20mph+. It was miserable but scenic.