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Buzzard Gulch is a 10-mile, non-motorized trail system located 10 minutes from downtown Montrose, CO adjacent Dave Wood Road. The trails are easy to intermediate in difficulty and are a combination of constructed singletrack and old jeep roads rehabbed to singletrack. The sandy and rocky trails wind through sagebrush flats and Pinyon/Juniper forest. Several loops have been created to provide a variety of riding options. Riding season is from late March until mid-October. Avoid when wet especially during the late winter thaw. During the summer months, ride early or late in the day to avoid the heat. Expansion of the trail system is planned for the future. This area is popular with local riders, hikers, runners and does get some equestrian use. [Getting Here]
Sidewinder trail is in the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and runs north and south between Delta and Montrose. It is a 22-mile long rocky, singletrack trail with numerous small canyon crossings. There are precious few respites from either technical climbs or descents. The trail is open to other non-motorized use and motorcycles. Most mountain bikers ride it from south to north with a shuttle to return to the trailhead. A few do it as a loop using existing gravel roads. It can also be done in shorter segments as a loop ride connecting with several jeep roads that cross the trail. An excellent map of the trail is published by both COPMOBA and the Bureau of Land Management (see the map link in the sidebar to the right). This trail is not for the faint of heart. [Getting Here]
Cerro Summit is the newest edition to the Montrose area. The 4 miles of trail wind through 110 acres of city property known as the Cerro Summit Recreation Area. The recreation area is located 13 miles east of Montrose, CO along Highway 50. Cerro Summit is a low pass between the Uncompahgre Valley and the Cimarron Valley drainages. At almost 8,000 feet in elevation, Cerro Summit is cooler during the summer months. Most of the trails are rated easy to intermediate. Much of the trail system weaves through dense stands of scrub oak and mountain shrub. The Tuff Canyon Trail offers black diamond technical features ready-made for those looking for a few thrills. [Getting Here]
The Lower Spring Creek Trail is a 8-mile long, motorized singletrack trail that branches from the Upper Spring Creek Trail about 2 miles west of the South Dave Wood Road Trailhead at the Forest Service boundary. Initially the route begins on a two track, then follows an ATV trail that goes out to the rim of Spring Creek. The Lower Spring Creek Trail begins at the bottom of a big descent. The trail heads down canyon through a thick canopy of Pinyon and Juniper trees. Much of the trail is rocky and technical – lots of fun. There is a hike-a-bike at the north end near the lower trailhead just off of Dave Wood Road. It can be done as an out and back from the north trailhead, but many riders shuttle the South Dave Wood Road section. [Getting Here]
The Dry Creek Trail System is west of Montrose in Dry Creek Canyon, which comes off the Uncompahgre Plateau. The trails are a combination of singletrack, jeep roads and a few ATV trails that travel in the main canyon, in and out of small drainages and along adjacent canyon rims. The trail system is a popular motorized area. The Montrose trailhead for the Tabeguache Trail is within the trail system. The main access roads are the Rim Road and the Transfer Road. The Tabeguache Trail travels through the heart of the system allowing access to Coyote Cutoff, Coyote Ridge, Redwall, Piney Creek, Ewok Village and The Fingers. A variety of potential loops are possible. The riding is classic canyon country with rocky, sandy and smooth segments beginner to intermediate in difficulty. There are some hike-a-bike sections. Recommended direction for Piney Creek is down, south to north. [Getting Here]
South Uncompahgre Plateau – Aspen/Buck/ Dry Creek/Hornet Trails – This high country trail network is accessed from the upper end of highway 90, southwest of Montrose. From Montrose drive west out on highway 90. Drive 20 miles, initially on pavement that turns to a fast gravel road as it leaves the valley. As the road enters National Forest the Buck (149) trailhead is immediately on the right. Less than a half mile beyond the trailhead the Dry Creek Trail (114) access is encountered on the left. Continue another 2 miles on the gravel road to reach the Divide Road. Just beyond that intersection turn left onto FSR 549. A large kiosk immediately off the road marks the trailhead to Aspen Trail (125). It also provides access to the Hornet Trail (131).
The Buck Trail zigzags generally north through a mixed conifer/aspen forest before climbing to a high point called the Knob. The trail then heads south passing under powerlines before returning to highway 90. Immediately across highway 90 is another trail, called the Buck Cutoff, that intersects the Dry Creek Cutoff Trail before dropping into upper Dry Creek to reach the Dry Creek Trail, previously mentioned.
From the aforementioned large kiosk follow a narrow trail south. It intersects the Hornet Trail at the end of a meadow, then intersects FSR 549. Bear left at the next intersection (the right fork is the Red Canyon Trail). After riding briefly on 549 the Aspen Trail is encountered. The trail is aptly named, passing through dense aspen groves for much of its course. About a mile in the rider encounters a dramatic viewpoint that showcases the Lone Cone. It’s hard not to notice the abundance of aspen tree art along the trail. Several miles in there’s a technical descent that crosses a small spring. The Little Red Trail continues right. Stay left then left again a short way ahead. The next intersection provides access to the Dry Creek Cutoff by bearing right. Stay left to finish the Aspen Trail loop. Upon reaching a meadow turn right and pass through a gate. Continue on singletrack a short distance before encountering a road. Continue straight to intersect the Hornet Spur. The spur will take the rider to the aforementioned Hornet Trail. Turn right to return to the trailhead or follow the Hornet Trail out to the power lines. [Getting Here]
Riders can easily connect Buck, Aspen and Dry Creek to ride a convoluted loop of about 17 miles. Start by riding the Buck Trail. Ride highway 90 over to Aspen Trail, then use the Dry Creek Cutoff to ride into Dry Creek. Near the Dry Creek trailhead another singletrack, called South Buck will bring you back to your vehicle. These trails are on the U.S. Forest Service travel map.
The Whole Uncalada – The route has only been possible since the development of the Buzzard Gulch trail system in 2012. The ride covers 17 miles and drops from 9,500 feet to 6,200 feet with a net elevation loss of 3,700 feet. It is fast, technical and scenic. It is the signature ride of the South Uncompahgre Plateau. The ride can be made several miles longer by using the Saw Dust Pile Road (532) and the Forest Fence Trail (128).
From the Dented Door Road (562) off of the Divide Road the ride connects with the Dented Door Trail (248). In a few miles bear right onto the Spring Creek Trail (116). Cross Spring Creek, climb briefly then descend again eventually grading into the Lower Spring Creek Trail (previously described). After the hike-a-bike at the bottom of the Lower Spring Creek Trail ride north on the pavement about a hundred yards. Turn left onto Buzzard Gulch’s Dakota Rim Trail. Connect with Broken Antler then Buzzard Gulch and left at PJ Way to complete the ride. There’s a lot of everything when you ride the Whole Uncalada. [Getting Here]
Trail descriptions curtsey of Bill Harris, Uncompahgre Chapter of COPMOBA. Thanks Bill!
Black Canyon of the Gunnison area trail descriptions coming soon!
Click on the Map link in the sidebar to the right for map resources.