Among the most exciting adventures drawing biking/cycling enthusiasts to Southwestern Colorado’s Ouray County each summer and fall is the bevy of options taking pedal power to new heights. Chipeta Solar Springs Resort offers guests use of six basic bicycles on a complimentary basis for accessing trail systems that roll out from Ridgway Town Park. Keep in mind that if you’re looking for a hardcore ride and aren’t bringing your own bike, you can contact Dave’s Mountain Tours (DavesMountainTours.com) for gear, guided day trips and tours.
From Ridgway Town Center, Chipeta’s bikes let you catch the paved Uncompagre Bike and Hiking Path heading north along the Uncompagre River. Count on beautiful views of the mountains and abundant wildlife. It’s a beginner ride to the park followed by a moderate return since that route is uphill and at altitude.
Especially if you’re training, doing so in the altitude of Colorado’s mountains takes you leaps and bounds beyond doing so at sea level. And needless to say, you’ll be inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds you!
Easily accessible options are part of the Ridgway Area Trails (RAT), a series of interconnected routes within the San Juan Mountains. From the Weaver Trail System and the Angel Ridge Trails (both accessible from Ridgway’s Town Park) to high alpine routes such as the Dallas Trail, more than 40 miles of single track meander amid some of the most scenic terrain in the U.S.
Another popular option is to ride out of Ridgway and hit scenic passes along the foot of the San Juan Mountains to Telluride via Dallas Divide. Those who covet a challenging climb can tackle the 13-miler to the top of Red Mountain Pass for some of the highest views in Colorado that are accessible via paved roads. That said, prepare for a screaming downhill ride!
For trail access:
• Start from Ridgway Town Park and ride the bike path
• Park at the giant eagle and begin in Weaver Park
• Park in Ridgway State Park and cross the highway
• Climb CR10B and access trails
• Park at the RAT parking lot on County Road 10
If opting for the RAT parking lot, the Big Cheese is a 1.5-mile climb with switchbacks that ultimately takes you to the top of the entire network. Off of the Big Cheese, lengthen your climb by taking a right and continuing to ascend Splinter.
Next up on the left is Exterminator, a double black diamond descent that is riddled with steep drops and tight turns. Debuting at the end of the 2016 season, Exterminator has added an extremely gnarly, rocky, technical descent to the RAT system’s familiar assortment of super-fun, fast, swooping, rolling, rollicking descents and long, gradual climbs.
Continue climbing and you’ll reach the top that’s known as 4 Corners. From here, you can stay right and hit Ratical or Speedy Gonzales that are both amazing descents. Ratical brings you north into the system to pick up trails like the Plagueground, while Speedy heads toward Splinter and back to Big Cheese.
From 4 Corners, you can also grab Rat Trap or Rattus Maximus that both head north into the system. Ride the Rat Trap all the way down to experience one of the longest single-track downhills around.
If you’d rather head out from CR10B, you can pick up Rattus Maximus or The Maze. Climbing all the way to 4 Corners, the former links up with Squeaker, The Maze, Rat Trap and Double Crosser.
To base your trail selection on ability level, follow this RAT advice:
• Expert – Start at the trailhead in the parking lot Big Cheese, Exterminator, Rattus Maximus, Double Crosser, Plagueground, Lower Double Crosser, Rattus (climb to 4 Corners), Speedy Gonzales, Splinter, Big Cheese (descent – 15 miles)
• Intermediate – Start at the trailhead in the parking lot Big Cheese (to 4 Corners), Speedy Gonzales, Splinter, Big Cheese (only the top 1/3 back to 4 Corners), Speedy, Ratical, Plagueground, Lower Double Crosser, Rattus (climb), Rat Trap (descent), Lower Rat Trap, Squeeker, The Maze (12 miles)
• Beginner – Start near the top of the gravel pit road where Rattus, The Maze and Squeeker all meet Rattus Maximus (climb to 4 Corners), Radical, Double Crosser, Rattus Maximus (descent – 6 miles)
Those looking to make it competitive can pedal at full force during Ridgway’s signature mountain biking Rat Race scheduled for June 10, 2017. The annual event is a 26-mile single-track race tackled via two loops along RAT’s best trails. Count on switchback climbs and super-fast descents on handcrafted, remarkably fun trail. Race details and registration can be round at RidgwayTrails.com.
The Chipeta team will be happy to offer personal insight on trails once you arrive. For maps and further information, visit the Ridgway Visitors Center at 150 Racecourse Road or check out RidgwayTrails.com.