“Epic Colorado Trail singletrack from Champion Venture road to Junction Creek.
— Missy Thompson
The Champion Venture ride comprises the final section of the Colorado Trail extending from FS 171N (Champion Venture Rd.) to Junction Creek. This ride is frequently done as a shuttle, but also makes for a great, long day in the saddle. The ride starts where the Colorado Trail crosses FS 171N (Champion Venture Rd.).
To get to the trailhead, drive North from Durango on Hwy 550, then head west (left) on 25th street. 25th Street eventually turns to dirt and becomes Junction Creek Road (CR 204). Drive (or ride) approximately 18 miles up Junction Creek Road to the junction with FS 171N. This intersection is well marked with a sign to the Colorado Trail. Continue up Champion Venture road for approximately 0.8mi before reaching the Colorado Trail. Junction Creek Road is generally well maintained and passable by most (even 2WD) cars, it also provides fantastic views of the La Platas making it an enjoyable ride as well.
This is where the fun begins for this epic ride back to Durango. The trail starts by descending some gradual switchbacks through a beautiful lush forest. After about 1 mile the trail will start to descend more steeply reaching Flagler Fork Creek at mile 3. (Make sure to stop and enjoy the waterfall at the last switchback before the creek!) The trail then runs next to the creek (with a few crossings) down to Walls Gulch Bridge at 4.4 miles. This is a good place to stop and fuel up before the climbing begins.
From Walls Gulch Bridge the trail climbs approximately 1,480 vertical feet in 4.3 miles. After a steep rise from the creek there are a few gentle switchbacks. Dont let these fool youthere is some steep climbing to come! Muscle through and be prepared to hike the steeper sections to a plateau at 5.5 miles. After a mile with a gentle grade the steep climbing begins again until you reach High Point at 8.7 miles.
High Point is a frequent turn around point from riders ascending the Colorado Trail from Durango. From you'll enjoy an amazing 10 mile, 2,500 vertical foot descent down to Durango. There is just a bit of climbing on the descent, most notably just after passing the intersection with the Dry Fork trail. At 14.6 miles you'll reach Gudys Rest where it is worth a quick stop to take in the views before a series of switchbacks down to Junction Creek. At 16 miles youll cross over the Junction Creek Bridge and then continue, mostly downhill, along the creek to the southern trailhead of the Colorado Trail.