Monday, August 15, 2011

Biking on the Grand Mesa

With temps hitting the high 90s again this past Saturday we decided it was time to head to the Mesa for a bike ride.  Cooler temps outweighed the fear of mosquitos for once!  In the past, we've biked both the West Bench trail and the newer Flowing Park trail and have found West Bench to be the more enjoyable of the two.  A map and detailed description of the West Bench trail can be found here.

West Bench starts near the Jumbo Lake reservoir/Mesa Lakes area of the Mesa.  It's fairly easy to get to - park down by the lake.  Ride up the paved road past the little ranger station and across the bridge to your left.  There is a sign there that says "West Bench ski trail."  (It's a cross-country ski trail in the winter.)  From here follow the singletrack trail for about 1/2 mile.  Then you'll hit a gravel/paved road and see cabins.  The most obvious cabin is a red one close to where you meet the road.  The trail continues just to the left of this cabin - between it and another one.  There is a post there, but no sign.

The fun begins with a loose rocky downhill and several lava rock obstacle courses.  These can be entertaining and challenging!
Soon the trail opens up with beautiful meadows and a few bogs.  Cruise along between rock sections, bogs, and smooth trail until you get to the first cut off to Powderhorn.  If you start to get confused about the trail, just look for the tall blue-painted poles.  The first cut-off to Powderhorn is around 3.6 miles in and is fairly obvious.  Off on the right you'll see an old wooden building and a spur trail heading that direction.  That will take you to the quad lift.  Continue left through a barely-there section of trail.  It will open up again shortly.  2 more bogs and several downed trees were there when we were and they pretty much kept us from going much further.  You can make this into almost a 20 mile out and bike ride...our's was about 9 due to too many obstacles.

West Bench can be a great ride - but be prepared!  Mosquitos can be out, bogs need to be traversed, and there may just be too many trees down for it to be a lot of fun once you get past the first Powderhorn cut-off.  Still, it was a great day for an awesome bike ride; sitting by a quiet lake enjoying a beer afterwards didn't hurt either!

No comments: