Hit the Trails
However you choose to get outside, here are some valuable hints and tips on making the most of your outdoor Colorado experience!
The San Juan National Forest includes a National Forest scenic byway, the San Juan Skyway and a Bureau of Land Management 4WD scenic byway, as well as the Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway.
With over 600 miles of trails, Mesa Verde Country offers single track, challenging climbs in the San Juan Mountains, slick rock and old growth forest trails. Bike rentals, equipment and repair are readily available throughout the area.
Spring, summer, and fall are the best times to ride, but winter fat tire biking is making Mesa Verde Country a year-round mountain biking destination. The higher elevations of the mesas and mountain trails offer incredible views, as well as relief from mid-summer heat. Wait! Did we mention no crowds?
Here are some suggestions for mountain and road biking options; each has its own distinct personality and trail level. Check out the websites below for more complete terrain information:
|Coco Race Abajo Rib Cage Loop||Phil's World Trail System||6.5||Beginner|
|Sand Canyon||Canyon of the Ancients||11.2||Intermediate|
|Boggy Draw||Boggy Draw Trail System||8.4||Beginner|
|Lemon Head||Phil's World Trail System||10.8||Intermediate|
|The Beatles Tour||Geer Park||10.9||Intermediate|
|Mavericks / Italian Loop||Boggy Draw Trail System||9.9||Intermediate|
|Stinking Springs||Phil's World Trail System||15.5||Intermediate|
|Bean Canyon||Boggy Draw Trail System||14.6||Intermediate|
|Stoner Mesa||Stoner Trail Head||28||Advanced|
|Sage Hen||Sage Hen Trail Head||14.6||Intermediate|
Colorado is home to some of the world’s most scenic high-altitude drives and byways, which means it also lures road cyclists to its hundreds of miles of scenic roadways. Take advantage of two national scenic local byways here in Southwestern Colorado, plus the road rides listed below.
|Popular Rides||Miles||Road Names|
|Mesa Verde National Park||15-50||Park System Roads|
|Dolores | Mancos | Cortez||46.2||Highways 184, 160 & 145|
|House Creek (One Way)||11.7||County Road 30, Forest Service Roads 526 & 528|
|Lebanon Road & Totten Lake Road||26.2||County Road 25, Highway 184 & County Road 30|
|West Fork of the Dolores River (One Way)||34.9+||Highway 145 & County Road 38|
Here are some day hiking trails sure to please, and some of the most beautiful in Colorado. Check out one of these options for a day well spent:
Bear Creek Trail (#607) - at the confluence of Bear Creek and the Dolores River. Starting elevation: 7,960 ft. Trail Length: 12.5 miles. Little Bear Creek Trail (#609) intersects and provides alternative access.
The School House Trail (#660) - is 2.0 miles long. It begins at Highway145 and ends at Deadend. The trail is open to: hiking and horseback riding.
The Box Canyon Trail (#617) - is 6.5 miles long. It begins at Forest Road 561 - West Mancos Road and ends at Forest Trail 621 - West Mancos Trail. The trail is open to: hiking, horseback riding and motorcycle trail riding.
Whether you’re looking for a once in a lifetime experience at a cattle ranch, a leisurely horseback ride or a pack trip, we got something for everyone.
West Mancos Trail (FST 621) - The West Mancos Trailhead is located adjacent to the Big Al Trail in the Transfer Recreation Area. Due to the steep nature of the upper portion of this trail, it can be very tricky in wet conditions. The trail continues upstream on the west side of the canyon before dropping to the West Mancos River level, then climbs steeply to Horsefly Flat. The trail ends at the Sharkstooth Trailhead, at the base of Hesperus Peak. Starting elevation: 8,900 ft. and ending elevation: 10,900 ft. Trail length one way: 10 miles
Mesa Verde Country has a great trail option for OHV/ATV enthusiasts with ample trailer parking. Travel through old logging roads, streams, aspen groves and spruce forests. Keep an eye out for wildflower and wildlife sightings.
Aspen Loop Trail - is a multipurpose, 39-mile loop trail constructed by the San Juan National Forest and the Four Corners Trail Club. The trail is open to ATVs, motorized trail bikes, horseback riders, hikers, and mountain bikers.
Fishing & Boating
The McPhee Reservoir Recreation Complex is on the south shore of McPhee Reservoir. McPhee Reservoir is the largest lake in the San Juan National Forest and second largest in Colorado with 50 miles of shoreline in piñon, juniper, and sagebrush country.
From Dolores, take Colorado Highway 145 south, turn west on Highway 184, and go about 7 miles. Look for the McPhee Recreation Area sign and turn onto County Road 25, then take the first right, which will lead into the recreation area.
- The McPhee Reservoir is stocked with warm and cold water fish species. Adjacent to the boat ramp is a trail up to a scenic overlook with 360-degree views. The trail continues to the tent-camping area of McPhee Campground. >> Call for reservations 1-877-444-6777.
- McPhee Boat Launch - Six-lane concrete boat ramp with restricted areas in wakeless zones, fish-cleaning station, two courtesy boat docks, flush toilets and drinking water.
- Ridge Point Overlook - This trail connects the overlook to the campground and also drops off the mesa to the boat-launch area. Panoramic views of the water and local sandstone cliff formations can be enjoyed all along its route.
- McPhee/House Creek Bike Route - This mountain bike route follows paved and gravel roads, with views of House Creek drainage.
- Doc’s Marina – A small marina offering rentals, snacks, ice and tackle. Dry Boat storage is also available. Closed Monday and Tuesdays. Open through the month of August. >> Visit www.docsmarina.com for more information on rentals.
The San Juan National Forest offers many opportunities for climbing, from scrambling through canyon rock jams, following an arduous but rewarding trail to a peak, or challenging yourself on a technical climb up an ice wall.
From sport and ice climbing to alpine rock locations, please check with the Dolores Public Lands Office for current climbing conditions. Call 970-882-7296 or drop by their office at: 29211 Highway184, Dolores, CO.
Whether on foot or on horseback, on two wheels or four, on land or on water, in snow or in sun, the exceptional landscapes of Mesa Verde Country beckon you to create your own outdoor adventure, any time, all year-round! There are just too many things to see and do in one day, and with all the available Four Corners lodging in Cortez, Mancos and Dolores, you’ll be able to do so much more.