County Rd. 76 in my opinion is one of the best roads to ride nearby for anyone in Gunnison CO. The traffic is minimal almost non-existent. The scenery is wonderful. There are services available at both ends of Parlin and Pitkin (where the pavement ends but continues to even more stunning riding). However, this is the time of the year, mud season, when off road activities get pretty mucky unless you own one of these…
County Rd. 76 is a great road for those starting out cycling for the first time and with friends. You can go at your own pace, ride alongside and chit chat, stop and take in the views. It is almost like your own bike path. You can hear the occasional car coming from quite a distance because it is sooooo quiet. Since it is mud season, there is no tourist activity!
I started my journey leaving Gunnison eastbound on Hwy. 50. Although it is our major thoroughfare, the traffic is not so bad and the shoulders are very wide and pretty clean of debris. I do like to be noticed by wearing a hi-visibility vest and lights. And I was noticed!
It is just 11 miles from Gunnison to Parlin also known as the QT Corner. Quiet Time! If you want, you can drive out there and park and start on County Rd. 76. From Parlin to Pitkin, the distance is 15 miles. The QT Corner has a Post Office, always open and warm, and a new country store! You have to stop in!
Tasty treats, antiques, local meats, awesome company…and a bratty little Jack Russell terrier who is all mouth and will “greet” you coming and going!
As you head north up 76 the surface is a little old bumpy. I suggest that you do not have the air pressure of your tires so high. The road is a slow gradual climb with lots of relief of some descents so you can catch your breath, coast and take in the views.
What I like about 76 is that it is almost always clear of snow because it is 99% fully exposed to the sun on the entire route! Since it is an “out and back” route you see things twice and the way back from Pitkin is a sweet downhill. Don’t forget to slowdown and see this!
As you meander onward you will come across Ohio City. A thriving metropolis at a crossroads rich in history!
Some signs have a grain of truth!
Regardless, it is a nice place to slow down, look around and then head onward on 76 as the views become more breathless in more ways than one!
And watch for walkers. County Rd. 76 is not only your bikepath it is also a walking path too!
So onward to the grand town of Pitkin.
Once rich in mining history and timber, you will ride by the Pitkin State Fish Hatchery which produces 90,000+ tons of trout a year! If you have a bike equipped for off road riding you can continue either to Waunita Hot Springs or the Alpine Tunnel. Pitkin is very quaint with many original structures from the 1800s, still in use. I always stop at the Silver Plume General Store and catch up with the very friendly owners, Chris & Kandy Nasso. They just added a little café outside during the warmer times and the BBQ is delicious.
Pitkin is growing with places to eat and stay. So check it out!
County Rd. 76 is a fantastic road to ride almost year round and I highly suggest you give it a try!
Written by Andy Albershardt, our custom bike fitter and cycling coach. Learn more about Andy here!