Expedition San Juan Mountains September 2021-Part 3-Black Bear Pass

The day has come, we are doing Black Bear Pass!

13.4 miles down US-550, the Million Dollar highway is the turn off for Black Bear Pass trail head. The GPS will take you past the trail head, so when coming from theNorth, Ouray, keep an eye out on the right side of sth road just before the GPS turn off. Not sure of the turn off was there at one point but was moved to accommodate bigger groups. Black Bear Pass is a One-way Trail.

This is a one-way trail for a very important reason, when you get “the steps” and the switch backs, there are no locations to pull off for traffic to pass, so its only downhill traffic. Think once a year, the trail traffic is uphill.

There are not alot of YouTube videos showing the trail from US-500 to the steps. Most videos just show the drama steps and switch backs. As with the East side of Engineer Mountain, Black Bear Pass east slope is a long gradual grade with wide trails and long curving switch backs.

Once we got to the Pass, we had once again clear skies and unlimited visibility. we are 2 for 2 on outstanding weather. We can’t ask for better weather. You can not see Telluride from the Pass, but it’s a great view. We work our way to “the steps”.

When we get to the steps there is another group of Jeeps and we work as a team to spot each other down the steps. When it comes to this part of the trail, slow and steady wins the race. It is very easy to go down correctly, but easier to go off the trail and roll. Just take it slow, you’ll be “off camber” but you’ll be fine.

Once your down the steps, you have 3-4 switch backs that you’ll have to do 4-6 point turns, depending on how long your Jeep is, a TJ vs a JK vs JKU vs JT. Just have spotters on the front and back and you’ll be fine.

The whole way down you have great views of Telluride. Take your time to enjoy the views and take alot of picture!

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