So many trails, so little time

Fred Simon riding Lower Spring Creek Trail.

A few weeks ago, the Montrose Daily Press published a supplement titled “Staycation.” It was a guide to playing in Montrose and Delta County. I found it quite informative. The mountain bike article only scratched the surface of what is available to mountain bikers locally. Trails that are no more than a 20-45 minute drive from either Montrose or Delta.

Hands down the most popular trail system around Montrose is the Buzzard Gulch/Spring Creek Canyon system. The system has 15 miles of single track trails that wind through desert canyon country. These trails are best ridden in the spring or fall but can also be early morning or evening fare during the summer.

Southwest of town on the highlands of the Uncompahgre Plateau are the Aspen, Buck, and Clear Creek trails. All three travel through dense conifer and aspen forests that are much cooler in the summer than the lower valley trails.

In recent years, the Whole Uncolada has drawn a lot of attention. The route combines the Forest Fence, Dented Door, Spring Creek, Lower Spring Creek trails and the Buzzard Gulch system to create a 23-mile, mostly downhill thriller. Typically, riders shuttle the route to avoid the monstrous return climb.

The Tabeguache Trail is mentioned in the Staycation supplement but here is additional information. The Tabby’s main trailhead is west of Montrose. The trail passes through the Dry Creek Canyon trail system, a popular motorized trail system, that gets its share of mountain bikers.

Like Buzzard Gulch, it travels through canyon country. The Tabeguache Trail eventually finds its way to the crest of the Uncompahgre Plateau on its way to Grand Junction. The Pool Creek and Roubideau sections are fun high country rides.

East of Montrose along U.S. 50 is the Cerro Summit Trails. This fledgling trail system is on City of Montrose property. Four miles of singletrack is packed into 110 acres of foothills terrain. More trails are planned for the future.

North of Montrose in the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area is a large motorized trail system.

The trail that gets the most use by mountain bikers is the Sidewinder Trail. This 22-mile route is rated as challenging with lots of rocky features and short technical climbs.

Now, on to the Delta County trails. To avoid the summer heat, Delta County riders go to the Grand Mesa. The County Line, Mesa Top, Crane Lake and Flowing Park trails offer miles and miles of riding pleasure. All four of those trails were built by volunteers and organized by the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trails Association (COPMOBA).

Another high country venue for Delta sprocket heads is the Uncompahgre Plateau. The best route to access those trails is the Delta/Nucla Road.

The 25 Mesa singletrack, 47 Trail Bear Pen and South Bear Pen Gulch trails can be found in the Uncompahgre National Forest.

West of Delta are existing 4-wheel drive routes that are frequented by mountain bikers. Dubbed the Escalante Triangle, this area is scheduled for singletrack development in the future.

East of Delta is the Smith Mountain area that has some fun singletrack and jeep roads. Both areas are real scorchers in the summer, so are best in the spring and fall.

A bit of a sleeper as far as trail systems go is Jumbo Mountain near Paonia. Also, word on the street has it that there is a new mountain bike trail system being developed around the Hotchkiss High School. It is being built by students.

If above selection is not enough to keep you busy there is always the RAT — Ridgway Area Trails. Twenty-two miles of some of the best riding in western Colorado. The above list of trails is just the beginning of what is available to residents and visitors alike if you want to do some real exploring.

If you go: The trails listed above can be found online at mtb project.com. The Bureau of Land Management’s Uncompahgre Field Office and the Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre National Forest’s websites also have lots of good trail information. Most of these trails are in remote areas, so go prepared to deal with a variety of potential hazards. Go to copmoba.org for additional trail information.

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