With trails for all seasons and for all abilities, the Uncompahgre Valley has everything from trails that are great for a quick ride after work or a day long expedition over a mountain pass.
This brand new trail system is located six miles west of Montrose, plugged into the Rimrocker trailhead at the end of State Highway 90. Here, riders can "find their flow" on a variety of trail features. From rock gardens to tight switchbacks, Electric Hills is a playground for intermediate to advanced riders, and a skills building opportunity for beginners. The design follows three circuits, each gaining in difficulty while connector trails give ample route options. The 17-miles (when complete) of professionally designed singletrack is an Uncompahgre must.
From the trailhead of Buzzard Gulch there are miles of trails in the dry desert setting that take you up to a scenic overlook of the Shavano Valley Ditch Canyon. These trails have some technical aspects but are not as chunky as other rides. The downhill flow is enjoyable and this makes for a great after work ride.
Around the corner from Buzzard Gulch is the Lower Spring Creek loop which is a local favorite. It can be ridden as an 11 mile loop within the canyon or if you are short on time you can shuttle it via Dave Wood Road. The shuttle version gets you to the flowy fun downhill parts sooner but some riders prefer to earn their coasting with an 800 foot ascent first. Be warned that the section at the start of the trail is known as the Hike-a-Bike! While some riders are comfortable maneuvering down this hill, most push their bike back up after the ride.
The Whole Uncolada
Even further up Dave Wood Road is the starting point of the Whole Uncolada (a punny play on Moab’s famous Whole Enchilada). This fast and flowy 20.4 mile single-track with 3,000’ of descent is almost always done as a shuttle from its starting point in the Uncompahgre National Forest down to the ending in Buzzard Gulch.
The start of the Whole Uncolada is also the origin of other trails on the Uncompahgre Plateau such as the beautiful canopy-covered Aspen and Buck Trails. Although it doesn’t appear to be all that far from Montrose, you will feel like you are in a whole new setting. When the mercury hits 90F in Montrose it can be as cool as 75F on the plateau, offering a nice respite from the heat. Riders from Grand Junction and Fruita often head down this way to hit these trails because they are a different challenge in a beautiful setting with the trail snaking through lush green meadows and meandering between towering aspen trees.
Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area
When the snow arrives and temperatures drop at higher elevations, riders begin to migrate north towards Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. Sidewinder Trail is 20 miles of chunky and technical trail that will test your skill set, best ridden from Montrose to Delta. There are also a variety of other trails in the Peach Valley section of Gunnison Gorge that can get you to views of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It is worth noting that this area is also popular for dirt bikes. For park rats, the Delta Pump Track, which is in Confluence Park is a great place to polish your skills.
RAT and Beyond
Also good for escaping the heat, the Ridgway Area Trails (known as the RAT) are a fun network of flowy fun descents with witty rodent-inspired names. You will need to earn those turns, however, as there is some uphill pedaling to be done before you get your reward.
The network has trails for riders of all levels of experience and beautiful views of the San Juan mountains that will almost certainly make water breaks that much longer. This network has a seasonal closure from December 1 to April 30.
South from Ridgway gets you to Ouray and a different type of riding. While Ouray doesn’t currently have a mountain bike trail network, there are 4x4 Jeep roads that are just as enjoyable from a bike saddle. A ride up to Yankee Boy or Governor Basin is always worth the effort, and if you have a full day to ride then a trip over Imogene Pass into Telluride and back (with a brief respite for a beverage) is an experience to remember.
Mountain biking is a way of life in Colorado, and we are fortunate to have so much in the Valley. Learn more about your local mountain biking organizations at: www.copmoba.org