If you follow me on social media, you've also probably seen me using the hashtag, #westslopebestslope. I love using this hashtag, as I truly feel like the Western Slope of Colorado is a hidden gem for people who love the outdoors. Grand Junction, while it may not have as many glamorous things as the Front Range / Denver area, has some seriously AWESOME outdoor recreation opportunities. We've got trails upon trails with a fraction of the people (and no traffic)! While I mostly just run and hike, there are also tons of opportunities for Mountain Biking (actually what this area is best known for), Canyoneering, Rafting, etc. We've got access to the largest flat top mountain in the world - the Grand Mesa, which sits at over 10,000 feet, but we've also got some seriously cool desert and canyon trails as well. And if that's not enough to keep me busy (or, more likely in my case, I'm being picky about the type of trails I want to run), I can also get to Moab, Ouray or Aspen, all within two hours or less!
So without further ado, the first trail I am going to highlight are the trails you've probably seen me post about ALL. THE. TIME - the "Lunch Loops", or Tabeguache Trails. These trails get their name because they are close enough to town that you can ride them on your lunch break (I say ride, as they are primarily a mountain bike trail system...but running and hiking is also permitted - thank goodness!). While I haven't actually gotten out to these trails during my lunch break, this is typically my"go-to" trail for before or after work because of it's location!
These trails are also sometimes referred to as the "Tabeguache Trails", as this is the start (or end depending on how you look at it) of the Tabeguache Trail - a 142 mile trail from Grand Junction to Montrose by way of the Uncompahgre Plateau! I always knew the "Tabeguache Trail" continued on, but had no idea that it went that far until just discovering this on the BLM website this evening - pretty cool!
Trail: Lunch Loops / Tabeguache Trails
Location: Grand Junction, Colorado
Trail Head Access: The main trailhead is located off of Monument Road - to access from town, take Grand Avenue West over the River, then make a left onto Monument Road. The trailhead will be about 1.5 miles ahead on your left. Note - there are also a couple of access points to the backside of these trails off of Little Park Road.
Distance: Varies - this is an entire trail "system" with multiple shorter trails intertwined. It takes awhile to learn them all (I'm still working on it actually!), but you can get anywhere from a couple of miles to 12+ miles. (Note - all of the different small trails can also get confusing, so if you're a first timer, I highly recommend bringing the map with you!).
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Best Time of Day/Year: I run these year round, but in the summer, I stick to early mornings as they do get extremely hot in the warmer months. There is very little, if any, shade on these trails.
Map: http://copmoba.org/trail-map-pdfs (copmoba.org has AWESOME, extremely helpful maps of all of our mountain biking trails - definitely check it out if you are looking to explore any of these!)
Elevation: Trailhead - 4,700'; High Point: 5700'
Notes: This is a mountain bike trail, so be on the lookout, but most mountain bikers are very courteous to pedestrians!
Since this is a trail "system" with a lot of intertwining trails, your options for routes are endless. I have two "go-to" weekday routes in the 4-5 mile range - either taking Curts Lane to Miramonte Rim, and back (5 Miles), or doing Pet-e-kes to High Noon, to Ravens Ridge, and then back via Curts Lane (4 Miles). If you're really wanting some good climbing, taking Eagles Wing to the "high point" of the trail system will get you over 1000' of climbing in about 3 1/2 miles.
|Trail Map that you can find at copmoba.org|