Nestled in Grand Junction, Colorado, the Gunnison River Bluffs Trail traces parts of the historic Old Spanish Trail, offering an 11-mile point-to-point riding experience. This easy-level trail opens a window to the past, letting riders roll over pathways once treaded upon by 19th-century fur trappers and pioneers. But don't be deceived—reviews suggest it's a mixed bag of landscapes, some less appealing than others.
This ride opens with the Old Spanish Trail, an old wagon route connecting Santa Fe to Los Angeles. The trail takes you through a local neighborhood before directing you to a hard-crust, challenging terrain, more akin to plains than a desert. You'll pass an open gate designed to keep motor vehicles out and then ascend a hill to connect with a county road.
On the Gunnison River Bluffs Trail, expect some confusing signage—or, in certain stretches, a complete absence of it. Despite being well-marked in some areas, you'll find yourself piecing together bullet-ridden signs and guessing the next direction at other points. It's advisable to follow the Old Spanish Trail markers whenever possible.
While the trail descends towards the Gunnison River, it traverses some old roads and ATV tracks, offering a less-than-stellar scenery. The trail is more functional than beautiful, giving locals a quick escape for exercise. The true highlight is a single-track section that overlooks the Gunnison River, offering a momentary scenic respite.
The trail draws mixed reactions from the biking community:
The Gunnison River Bluffs Trail offers a historic, if not wholly satisfying, ride for mountain bikers. While it lacks the scenic grandeur other Colorado trails boast, it serves as a functional track for those seeking a quick cardio fix. As for the history buffs, traversing a trail that fur trappers and pioneers used might just make up for its shortcomings.