Want to get away? Try some hidden gems in valley

Want to escape? Try hidden gems

A sign at the parking area for the Gunnison Bluffs and Old Spanish Trail provides users with directions and trail use information.

Julie Norman cruises on a section of the Gunnison Bluffs trail overlooking the Gunnison River.

Springtime on the bike trails in Grand Junction is, well, often crowded. Local bikers either have to just go with the flow and enjoy the crowds or head to hidden spots to escape them.

This past Saturday we chose the latter of those two options and drove out past the landfill to ride the Gunnison Bluffs trail.

This trail has a few different trail heads, one of which is located in Orchard Mesa. You can find information and directions to that trail head on the Gunnison Bluffs map at http://copmoba.org/trail-map-pdfs.

I like to start at the other end simply because it’s easy to do a loop ride with the Old Spanish Trail or to do a simple out and back ride on the Gunnison Bluffs side. To get there, take Highway 50 toward Whitewater and turn right on 31 Road as if you’re going to the landfill.

Follow the signs to the Old Spanish Trail. 31 Road will turn into Coffman and you’ll eventually come to a large gravel parking lot. There are signs here directing you to the Gunnison Bluffs Trail and the Old Spanish Trail.

The trails here are fairly easy: the only “obstacles” are loose cobblestone rocks on some downhills and a few very steep uphill sections. However, the views of the Gunnison River and surrounding area are great and you’ll mostly have the trails to yourself.

We rode 6.2 miles, choosing to just ride out-and-back on the Gunnison Bluffs side, and encountered only a handful of other trail users. There are ways to create a longer ride in this area, but we weren’t interested in a particularly long ride, just a way to get some exercise and enjoy a different trail.

If you have friends who are beginners or early intermediate riders, give Gunnison Bluffs and the Old Spanish Trail a try.

It’s a nice alternative to some of our more popular valley trails.

Taking advantage of a Monday

In other news, it’s great to be a local because we can take advantage of our favorite rides on days when the trails are empty.

Now that the time has changed I was able to drive out to Loma Monday afternoon and get in a nice out-and-back ride on Mary’s Loop while encountering very few other riders. During the high season we often avoid Mary’s because the two-way traffic can get to be a bit much.

It’s not that we don’t love tourists, we do! We appreciate all that they bring to the valley, but we also like being able to ride without having to stop repeatedly.

Hence the reason we choose less used trails on the weekend and get out to enjoy the popular ones during the week.

I’m sure we all have our favorite “hidden” rides for when Horsethief Bench and Prime Cut get too crowded, but if you’ve been looking for something off the beaten path, here’s a list of possibilities:

■ Western Rim or Zion Curtain in Rabbit Valley

■ Vegetarian/Edge Cut off/Chutes and Ladders at 18 Road

■ The Lunch Loop trails spread people out pretty well, but most climbers still travel up Pet Y Kes, so if you avoid that by climbing Eagle’s Tail or the main Tabeguache trail, you’ll encounter fewer people.

■ Lion’s Loop/Troy Built/Mack Ridge — most of the trails at the western end of Kokopelli are quieter than the eastern end of the system.

■ Butterknife

■ Gunnison Bluffs

You can find maps for all of these and more on the copmoba.org website. Whether you enjoy the thrill of riding with a crowd or are looking for a place to escape, you’ll be able to find something here on the Western Slope.

Now get out and enjoy spring!


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