Although it’s closed for the winter, this dangerous off-road trail near Telluride, Colorado will be back open in a few months. Come May 1st, you can take a trip in your 4×4 to see if it has the guts to take on Black Bear Pass. Like other notoriously difficult trails like Hell’s Revenge Trail in Moab, Utah or Die Trying Trail in Montrose, California, Black Bear Pass has claimed its fair share of Jeep Wranglers and Toyota FJ Cruisers.
It’s really not that difficult
As a whole, Black Bear Pass is a moderate trail with breathtaking scenic views. The point-to-point trip brings adventurers up close with history. There are old mining sites still intact from the gold rush. Waterfalls cascade down from the mountainside, only adding to the reputation of this dangerous off-road trail.
The pass is considered by many to be one of the most dangerous off-road trails in Colorado. But many also say that Black Bear Pass isn’t even that difficult. It’s definitely a fun place to put your 4×4 Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma, or Jeep Wrangler to the test. In fact, if not for the harrowing switchbacks above Bridal Veil Falls, it wouldn’t stand out that much compared with other off-road trails.
Black Bear Pass
According to All Trails, this trail is designated for more reasons than just off-road trail riding. Hiking, running, and biking are also activities that this trail is set aside for––it’s even dog friendly. But off-road driving in a 4×4 is far and away the most popular recreation seen at Black Bear Pass.
This 4×4 trail is beautiful. There are stunning views along its 8.5 miles through the Uncompahgre National Forest. The only problem is that the best views are reportedly as you climb down the intense switchback section near the Bridal Veil Falls. Still, you get amazing view of Red Mountain Pass and Telluride. Just don’t fall off a cliff on your way down.
Closed from November until May 1st due to winter weather conditions, Black Bear Pass takes hiatus from its relationship with 4WD trucks, ORV, and OHV driving. Being a point-to-point trail, you have to make sure to plan ahead. If you’re on a vehicle that isn’t street legal, make sure you have a way to get your vehicle back where it needs to be when the trail ends.
Once you hit the switchbacks, there’s no turning back. You have to take it all the way down. This is the insane feature that makes this the most dangerous off-road trail in Colorado. If it weren’t for the mile of trail comprised solely of cliffhanger switchbacks, this trail would be considered quite tame.
Before drivers get to the section of switchbacks above Bridal Veil Falls, there’s a warning sign. It warns against attempting the switchbacks and notorious steps without a properly equipped off-road vehicle. However, there are plenty of drivers in the comments section claiming to have completed the trail with vehicles like a stock 2019 Ford Ranger or 2021 Jeep Wrangler Willys.
“Your vehicle should have low-range 4WD, good tires, good brakes, excellent articulation, and a fully functional emergency brake.”Black Bear Pass | All Trails
That said, there are plenty of warnings from riders and drivers. A spotter is typically necessary on the steps. While the reviews are positive for Black Bear Pass, there are plenty of warnings. People say things like “know what you’re getting yourself into” after traversing the trail themselves. There’s no doubt that this is one of the most dangerous off-road trails and the most dangerous one in the state of Colorado.