The Paradox Trail was established in 1995 by COPMOBA in collaboration with Montrose West Recreation, the US Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. The 110 mile long Paradox Trail traverses the unique landscape of Western Montrose County, utilizing some of the hundreds of miles of back country jeep roads and trails that exist in this area. The route links two other long distant trails in the region, the Tabeguache Trail to the east on the Uncompahgre Plateau and the Kokopelli Trail to the west in the La Sal Mountains of Utah. Together, the three trails form the “Grand Loop”, a grueling 360 mile back country system sure to challenge the strongest mountain bikers.

The Paradox forms the southern leg of the Grand Loop, and even though no singletrack was created (as of 2011) for the trail, the area offers trail users some of the most rugged and remote backcountry terrain in the lower 48. There are six large tracks of public lands being administered as wilderness in the region, and while the trail is predominantly on two-track, don’t be fooled thinking this is an easy or fast ride. Riders continually underestimate the trail’s ungroomed and ever changing conditions at altitudes that range from 9,500 feet on the Uncompaghre Plateau to the warmer lower elevations ( 4,800 ft.) along the Dolores River. Many of the old jeep trails used for the Paradox Trail were long abandoned and overgrown when designated for the trail. Some areas qualify as singletrack because of the trail width and there are a least five “hike-a-bike” sections to be negotiated. While there are trail sections that utilize some seasonally graded county roads, much of the Paradox Trail is inaccessible to motorized vehicles although vehicle access points exist at many places. Caution should be used during wet weather conditions as all back country roads can become slick, soft and impassable. The trail is marked at key intersections and throughout the route with brown carsonite signs.

Riders need to be cautious and personally responsible when in the backcountry. The use of topographical maps and or a GPS is strongly recommended. Wildlife abounds with elk, mountain lion, coyotes and rattlesnakes. It is not uncommon to encounter bears in some sections. There is world class hunting in the West End so riders should familiarize themselves with the various seasons and wear orange during rifle seasons. Water is found in many drainages and should always be treated. With the new rerouting of the trail scheduled for 2012, riders will have access to services in Nucla, the only source of supplies along the entire Grand Loop. Trail users can find the Paradox Trail on the BLM Nucla, La Sal and Moab Section maps.

Undeveloped campsites exist at Pinto Mesa, Tabeguache Creek, Upper Spring Creek Mesa, Mesa Creek and Biscuit Rock. There are established National Forest campgrounds at Buckeye Reservoir in the La Sal Mountains, Columbine and Antone Springs Campgrounds on the Uncompahgre Plateau and the BLM Dolores River takeout upstream from Bedrock. All camps are accessible by two wheel drive vehicles.

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