Black Bear Pass is one of the most exciting trails in the Telluride, Ouray area. It does have a bad reputation and through the years there has been loss of life.
What is referred to as the steps is the most "heart pounding" area but oddly not the most dangerous. There is also a step that can be dangerous where you enter Ingram Basin. That step is well above the Ingram Falls step and is only a few miles past the Pass summit. Lets refer to it as the Ingram Basin Step.
This step in the past was very narrow switch back and can require the three point turn (TPT) to get around. This past year, the road crews made it a bit more wide and with a short wheel base and thigh turning radius can be done with out the TPT. I did it in one turn this year, but the JK that was behind me did not. That can change from yer to year
As noted, the "Steps" that are located a Ingram Falls can be the more breathtaking part of the trail. There is a lot of intimidation there. It is not as bad as it looks, but having tires with exceptional traction, breaks in sound working order is a must and using low gear to let yourself creep down is adequate to make this part.
Step at Ingram Falls How it looks when you are doing it:
How Ingram Falls Step looks from Telluride:
Ingram (Falls) Step to the left, And Black Bear switch backs
After the Step and going into the Switch Backs:
The switch backs are very very tight and where most care should be taken. Again everything should be working well (steering, breaks, clutch, transmission, emergency break, high traction tires) and well serviced. The personal factor is knowing your jeep well. Where is the friction point on the clutch, turning radius, and the ability to release your clutch and emergency break at the same time (not as much an issue on automatic transmissions). And carefully recheck every action you are taking. While this sounds crazy to note, make sure you are in reverse and not in forward when you want to back up and you release your break. It is theorized that an accident occured just for that reason and the vehicle plunged off, the driver thinking he was backing in a TPT but was in a forward gear. IT IS UNFORGIVING! Also make sure there is no loose things that can get under your peddles. This past year, a "wayward" water bottle lost the previous day showed up under my peddles just before I started the switch backs.........It made me cuss.
The first three switch backs after Ingram step are the most critical and they get less challenging as you get down. And as always, Bridal Vial falls is a great view and photo spot on the Black Bear Pass trail.
As should be obvious, ice and even wet conditions may preclude a safe descent. I understand there is already snow that is sticking now, October may be too late. Take your time, know your vehicle.
Multi tasking: Dont be trying to drive and take photos (best to hve passenger doing photos). Having an experienced spotter can be helpful.
Have a good time, you are lucky to be so close.