The Cottonwood Section of the Tabeguache Trail
is fairly straight forward. Initially, follow the Cottonwood Rd (FSR 504) until it meets the Cabin Bench Rd (FSR 501). Turn left to follow Cabin Bench Rd 501. The road turns from gravel to dirt at this point. The Cabin Bench Rd crosses the East Fork of Escalante Creek before reaching Love Mesa Rd (FSR 500). Turn left and follow 500 up Love Mesa, over the crest of the Uncompahgre Plateau to meet Divide Road.
For the first portion of the ride, you'll be riding on a graveled road, and will pass through open meadows and pine forests. As you gain elevation, the surrounding flora will turn to aspen groves and coniferous forests. Panoramic views open up once riders reach Love Mesa, so take your time to enjoy the views. Spotting wildlife such as deer, elk, turkey is common, and if you are lucky you could see a black bear or mountain lion.
Don't be fooled by the relative lack of mountainous relief - the terrain is quite rugged. The area has also been logged for many years, so there are lots of dead end spurs that need to be avoided. Riding season is from June through September. Bring plenty of water and be prepared to self-support and self-rescue. Also this is cattle country, so don't harass the livestock.
A detailed description of this section of the Tabeguache Trail
can be found on the BLM Uncompahgre Field Office web site that provides a detailed log of the whole Tabeguache Trail