North Pass is traversed by state route 114 between Saguache and Gunnison. (See Partner Pass: Cochetopa Pass)
Begin in Saguache riding northwest on SH 114
Proceed on SH 114 to North Pass--mile 30.5
Continue on SH 114 turn left on CR 17 (gravel road)--mile 35.5
Follow CR 17 making a left on CR 14--mile 40.8
Ride to Cochetopa Pass--mile 48.5
Continue on CR 14 to SH 114--mile 59
You start on your road bike at the intersection of Hwy 50 out of Gunnison and Hwy 114. The ride is mostly open road with narrow shoulders through some of the canyons. About 15 miles after you descend North Pass you will come to County Rd NN 14. Some may switch to the MTB while others stick with their road bikes, to summit Cochetopa Pass. County Road 14 is dirt/gravel in generally good repair. At the summit change to your MTB for the fast descent and follow County Road NN 14 back out to Hwy 114 for the end of your ride.
Gunnison, 39.1 miles to the northwest
Saguache, 30.7 miles to the southeast
If you look at a map you will see that North Pass is in the middle of NOWHERE (no joke)!!
‘While it is true that our part of the world is in general getting more crowded and developed, that’s a simplification based on generalization.
Move from that lofty macroscopic Census Bureau view to a specific site on the ground, and you can find many places that are less crowded and developed than they once were.
Thus, the sun was getting rather low as we drove west from Saguache on paved Colo. 114 that leads to “North Pass”. North Pass is the name that the state highway department applied after paving the road in 1962. More often, however, it’s called “North Cochetopa Pass,” to distinguish it from the unpaved but solid county road that is formally known as “Cochetopa Pass” and informally as “Old Cochetopa.” We turned up Old Cochetopa. We’d been over it before, but this time we wanted to make a leisurely exploration of that peculiar area.
It’s peculiar for our part of Colorado because it’s a rolling country of forests and meadows, rather than a spectacular landscape dominated by rugged ridges and snow-capped peaks. The Cochetopa area lies in a gap about 50 miles wide between the towering Sawatch Range and the jagged San Juan Mountains. But when you’re in the midst of it, the terrain looks deceptively pastoral. In fact, we had Old Cochetopa Pass to ourselves — we never heard another vehicle go by that night. It’s just so quiet there that you hear things that you wouldn’t notice in a busier place.
Essay by Ed Quillen September 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine