Lunch Loop Bike Park close to town, offers perfect quick getaway from work

The Lunch Loop area is only 12 minutes from downtown GJ, making it an easy escape from work.



QUICKREAD

LUNCH LOOP BIKE PARK

Drive time and distance:  12 minutes, 5 miles

Length: 2+ miles

Hiking/Riding Time: 2+ hours

Difficulty: Moderate to intense



Although a majority of recreational users ride mountain bikes here, my business partner George Rau, his wife Elaine, and their dog Good Boy, hike one of the trails in the Lunch Loop area just about every day. My buddy Geoff Tischbein and his dog Kali do the same, at least when Geoff is in town.

Locals in the valley have been taking off at lunchtime and riding their bicycles and hiking here for the past 20 years. Why? Because it’s close to town, on Monument Road only five miles from Fourth and Main. They can get here and return to work after a fine workout at lunch.

They’re probably pretty sweaty, especially in the warmer months, but who cares (other than their office mates)?

The internationally renowned Monument Road Lunch Loop trail head — which represents a portion of the larger 143-mile Tabeguache Trail system connecting Grand Junction to Montrose — underwent a major face lift last fall with the new Lunch Loop Bike Park. A five-month project led by Jen Taylor, the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Association (COPMOBA), the City of Grand Junction and the Bureau of Land Management, the Bike Park was dedicated to the community and was ready to ride last October. It’s been in full use every day since then — unless it’s raining.

For Taylor, a mom of three, a BMX rider as a kid and avid mountain biker as an adult — it was all about the kids.

“Every aspect of the bike park has been centered on the pivotal goal of getting kids outside and connecting them with nature. I have worked for years on the topic of getting kids outdoors and for me, this project is a manifestation of that passion,” Taylor said.

Founder of the youth outdoor-apparel manufacturer Mountain Sprouts® and a leader in the Outdoor Industry’s ‘Getting Youth Outdoors’ movement, Taylor received the Boy Scouts of America’s “Peak Vision Award” for her work.

“The Lunch Loop trail head couldn’t be a better location for a bike park,” she said. “The infrastructure is there with the parking lot and bathrooms in place. But access for kids is also key.”

She noted that not all parents ride bikes nor do they have bike racks on their vehicles. That’s OK here, since the trail head is only a few miles from downtown, and a bike path now connects Monument Road with the Riverfront Trail system. The location is also ideal for maintenance and emergency vehicle access.

Most of the trails in this area are located on remote lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service and BLM. The popular lunch loop section of the trail, however, is certainly not remote. Nonetheless, when you travel along these trails, you’ll feel like you’re in the wilderness. Crowds spread out well here.

The Tabeguache Trail attracts lots of advanced mountain bikers, and in the past, the area was somewhat limited to those expert riders. Now, however, not only is there a new bike park where kids young and old can hone their mountain biking skills, but there are many well-constructed intermediate bike trails, as well, with more trail-building planned for this summer.

You can help. Call BLM, contact the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Association (COPMOBA,  http://copmoba.org), or visit your favorite bike shop for more information.

All this use, comes with some problems. Numerous social trails on this arid landscape erode badly. The BLM tries to restrict use to designated trails that are constructed properly with the contours of the land in mind. Sometimes, however,  people still go their own way.

One trail here, the Pet-e-Kes Trail, is an example of how to construct a trail correctly. This trail is built with the intermediate hiker/biker in mind. It offers views of Colorado National Monument, BLM lands and the Grand Valley, and is built so that both hikers and mountain bikers can enjoy it. It’s a little wider than some of the mountain bike trails in this area, so it’s wide enough to hike along.

Dogs are welcome as long as they’re under control, and as long as their humanoid companions pick up after them. If you’re hiking around these parts with your kids, make them pile on the sunscreen. You should set the example.

I hiked early in the day last week, not at lunch. I still kept my hat on and I’m religious about applying sunscreen each morning after I shave. As my dermatologist Dr. Richard Stiefler said, however, “Probably too little too late.”

Skin cancer or not, I’m going to hike and bike and ski and fish. I just can’t help myself. After all, that’s why we live here!

And the lunch loop is so close, you can hike or ride there for lunch… or breakfast, as the case may be!


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