West Bench Trail #501
ElevationAscent: 425' 130 m
Descent: -360' -110 m
High: 9,918' 3,023 m
Low: 9,734' 2,967 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 14% (8°)
Current trail conditions
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“A fun, low-traffic, very scenic route at the top of Powderhorn Resort's lifts.”— Zack Loucks
In the winter, this is a common trail for skiers to telemark because they can park for free, ski to the lift areas and then head down Powderhorn's runs from there. With the resort currently working on a new lift that will accommodate mountain bikes, I suspect this trail will be used more often for the same reason in the summer for bikers.
For anyone from the south side of Grand Mesa (Cedaredge to Delta, Montrose, Hotchkiss and Paonia), this would be a fun way to warm up by riding to the lift, bomb down the mountain, take the lift up, and then ride back to your vehicle when you've had enough. It's a great way to dodge crowds.
The trail is much more fun than anticipated. There were fewer rocks than expected but more flow than expected. There is enough downhill to keep it fun, enough technicality to keep it interesting, and when it's easy and slow the scenery is beautiful. Lots of wildflowers, aspen groves, water crossings, open meadows, and wildlife. There was just enough mud to have a couple hike a bike sections.
We came across fresh bear tracks and scat on the trail but never did see the bear. Moose, elk, mountain lion, and others call this area home as well.
I didn't know until seeing the gps file overlay on the map that there was a switchback trail heading down the mountain from Lift #1. I imagine between now and when the new lift is operational this would make a great shuttle run. Leave one vehicle at Powderhorn, park the other at the West Bench Trailhead (marked START on the map). The result would be about a 4 mile warm up run with a huge downhill reward at the end. I'll have to try it out and report.