For the hearty rider who... likes adventure and variety but prefers mostly singletrack, is willing to go the distance, who wants to sample just about everything, and who really dislikes touching the same ground twice on a single ride, this ride is for you!
Ride exceptionally well-managed singletrack while exploring Grandview Ridge, Horse Gulch
, and the famed Telegraph
Trail systems. Make a brief encounter with the concrete-paved Animas River Trail
and enjoy Durangos only bit of singletrack along the river as you round out the loop on the old railroad grade. So there's up to a couple miles of roadway riding - view it as a well deserved break.
Take plenty of water, tools, flat repair, and sun protection.
The loop could be ridden in either direction, but this description takes it counterclockwise for a more front-loaded workout. Of the 16 miles, only 3 miles are on pavement, 1 mile of which is on the Animas River Trail
After a steep rise from the parking area, Sale Barn
settles into a pattern of gently curving runs up the narrow valley to achieve the top of the east mesa. The trail drops back into Sale Barn
Canyon after an easy wander along the east mesa top and gently achieves the west mesa top where it meets up with Cowboy
showcases the Grandview Ridge. Fun singletrack parallels dirt roads in some locations and then wanders out to explore more of the mesa top through stands of juniper and oak brush with a scarce rock here and there. The east-most edge of the mesa sports a nice view over Highway 160 and the Bridge to Nowhere.
continues its steady but gentle climb along the mesa and arroyos as it finds its meandering way toward the upper end of Big Canyon
to finally meet up with Sidewinder
beneath Grandview Ridge itself past the upper end of REA Canyon.
continues a steady climb on a wide trail to achieve the top of a wide saddle before following an old road grade around the hillside to meet Telegraph
. A short but tough climb with some rocks and eroded trail thrown in for good measure takes Telegraph
out of the tributary starts, to slip through a saddle and follow the contour to where Telegraph
reaches its high just beneath Pautsky Point.
then continues down the steep-to-moderate west side of the ridge over narrow ledges, frequent rocks, and around large boulders past a dramatic switchback with terrific views overlooking the meadow at Horse Gulch
. The trail gives way to a pattern of swooping turns through washes and sagebrush on a gentle but fast descent to meet the relaxed west side of Meadow Loop
Mellow out after taking a right on the easy Meadow Loop
and undulating terrain to meet up with Staceys Loop. Another right extends the mellow loop farther. Take another right and youll probably cuss Mike for seemingly unplanned routes climbing what seem like the steepest choices. The ascent encounters no rocks only occasional eroded trenches just the right size to stick a bicycle tire. A fast, steep, tightly dipping and blind hairpin descent will have you congratulating Mike until connecting with Cuchillo
A right turn on Cuchillo
makes a moderate ascent to achieve a narrow ridge line oddly poking up from the canyon floor. The ridge line delivers an overall lengthy descent over technical sections with interesting tilted rock and knife-edge sandstone (hence the name, I think).
The ridge delivers its riders onto the west side of the lazy Meadow Loop
and a high-speed descentthat spits the rider out onto Horse Gulch Road
. A left on the old road, which is closed to motor vehicles, makes a rocky descent through the canyon to the trailhead at East 3rd Street.
Take the streets toward the left on a short stint to Santa Rita Park to meet the concrete paved Animas River Trail
. Follow the trail left for a mile, crossing the Animas River at the bridge below the Animas Medical complex. If youre game and still have legs, take a spin on the Durango BMX Track for some fun jumps before crossing the bridge.
To avoid riding through private property, take a short detour on Sawmill Road. Catch Railroad Trail
before the intersection with Highway 3 and skirt along the bank of the Animas River on singletrack following the old Railroad Grade. Pop out on Highway 3 at its south end and Carbon Junction to catch the frontage road back to the trailhead.
If youre a really hearty SOB, take the Sale Barn
South Rim Carbon Junction featured ride in reverse to trim yet another mile of roadway off your ride, adding 7.2 miles of singletrack and only repeating a little over a mile of trail!