Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Biking Colorado's Uncompahgre RiverWay Trail (Montrose Segment)

The Uncompahgre RiverWay Trail is planned as a 37 mile path from Ouray north to Delta, passing through Ridgeway and Montrose.  Currently, only short segments in Ridgeway and Montrose are completed.

You can find the Montrose segment in Baldridge Park near the skatepark and Ute ballfield.  From Highway 550 south of Highway 50, watch for signs indicating a right turn (west) to the park.  You can park at the Aquatic Center (turn at Colorado Avenue) and take the access trail across Rio Grande Avenue, or go farther south on 550 and turn right and go to the Uncompahgre River where you'll find the park.   You'll see a red bridge over the river.  If you cross the river, you'll be in Cerise Park which has numerous connecting concrete sidewalks. There are no signs, but just bike them all.  One is a loop, two simply dead-end, and others are access trails.  One takes you up the high hill via switchback paved trail for some good views of the area. Over three extra miles can be achieved on these sidewalk trails.

Another lot is along the trail. Turn west on Oak Grove, go a block where it turns into at Rio Grande Avenue.  There is a gravel lot there and the trail abuts the lot. 

Bike away from the red bridge, past the skatepark and tennis courts, cross Rio Grande Avenue and then Oak Grove (there is a gravel lot at this intersection for parking) and now you are on the old Rio Grande right-of-way heading south.  You'll cross the Uncompahgre River and then parallel it for a bit, eventually hitting open country and passing some homes and fields and grazing land.  

The river corridor provides habitat and a travel corridor for wildlife,  including mule deer, fox, porcupine, beaver, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, quail, and even bear and mountain lions, and is preserved in its natural state.  The same is true for the above mentioned Cerise Park. The concrete path/sidewalk is in pretty good condition, and where the inevitable winter frost heaves raise one section above its neighbor section, they try to plane it down to eliminate the bump (and mostly succeed.)


Around 2.5 miles, you'll pass the Ute Indian Museum.  Washrooms are available there as well as at Baldridge Park.

The pavement ends around mile 3 but continues as gravel trail for another 3 miles.  If you do the entire trail and all the trails in Cerise Park, you can get about 9 miles of riding, and if that's not enough, do it again and enjoy the scenery and the wildlife sightings!  (Or drive do the 26 miles  to Ridgeway and do their segment of the trail as I did.)

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