MTB Project Logo

Paradox Trail



124.3 mile 200.0 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 13,195' 4,022 m
Descent: -11,342' -3,457 m
High: 9,909' 3,020 m
Low: 4,788' 1,459 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 33% (18°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Paul Koski

This epic 118 mile trail spans the entire length of Western Montrose County in Colorado.

Paul Koski

Electric Mountain Bikes Allowed

Features Commonly Bikepacked

The Paradox Trail lies entirely on BLM and Forest Service Public Lands. Fire restrictions apply when in effect. Trail may not be marked in all areas so use of a map and the MTB Project MTB Project mobile app is strongly recommended. Treat all water in drainages before use and leave gates the way your find them.

Need to Know

Fun descent off Pinto Mesa into Coal Canyon. New singletrack trails east and north of Nucla.


Established in 1995, the Paradox Trail was a collaborative effort between COPMOBA, Montrose West Recreation, the BLM and USFS. Although it lies entirely on various doubletrack surfaces, the trail boasts at least five hike a bike sections that demand a dismount. The terrain of Western Montrose County is laced with massive cliffs, deep drainages and dry arroyos plus views of the La Sal Mountains to the west and the San Juans to the southeast.

Years of mineral exploration and ranching have created hundreds of miles of roads and trails on one the largest tracts of publicly controlled lands in Colorado. There are five large tracts in the region which are administered as Wilderness. The Paradox Trail uses many of those old lost roads to traverse the entire length of Western Montrose County in a not so straight 118 mile long course.

Connecting the Tabeguache Trail on the Uncompahghre Plateau at 9,900 feet, the Paradox creates the southern leg of the Grand Loop (GL) as it joins with the Kokopelli Trail in the La Sal Mountains at over 8,000 feet elevation. The trail is marked with brown carsonite posts bearing the Paradox Trail sign at key intersections and regularly along the route.

Riding the entire length of the Paradox Trail is challenging and takes some planning. There are many access points for sag vehicles and many great places to camp, most with water. Undeveloped camp sites exist on Pinto Mesa, Tabeguache Creek, Mesa Creek, Dolores River and a USFS camp at Buckeye Reservoir. The small town of Nucla is the only supply source on the trail where you can get food and limited bike parts. Most GL riders will take three days to traverse the Paradox. Carry a map, GPS, the MTB Project MTB Project mobile app and plenty of water in this high desert environment.

This is wilderness riding, and riders need to be personally responsible. Bear and elk sightings are not uncommon and the sound of coyotes is never far. Mountain lions are also common here, so use extra caution on the trail. Wear blaze orange during rifle season.


Rate This Trail

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In



Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 3 votes


  5.0 from 3 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Trail Rankings


in Utah


386 Views Last Month
13,125 Since Jan 2, 2015



Looking down Red Canyon with the Uncompaghre Plateau to the northeast.
Jan 3, 2015 near Gateway, CO
Upper Spring Creek mesa from the Paradox Trail
Jan 3, 2015 near Gateway, CO
The "lost trail" section on the Glencoe Bench
Jan 3, 2015 near Montrose, CO
Tabeguache Canyon SMA
Jan 3, 2015 near Montrose, CO
Red Canyon with Paul and JB
Feb 14, 2016 near Gateway, CO
Atop Carpenter Ridge high above the Paradox Valley.
Jan 3, 2015 near Gateway, CO


MTB Project is supported by

Support Your Local IMBA Chapter