Paradox Trail: Glencoe Bench Loop

October 8, 2011
Distance:  19 miles
Elevation gain: 1400 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate
Approximate ride time:  3-4 hours
Drive distance from Grand Junction:  118 miles (via Hwy 141 and Delta-Nucla Rd.)
from Montrose:  28 miles (via Hwy 90 and Hauser Rd.)
          This is one of my favorite rides when I have out of town guests with limited time. This section of the Paradox Trail offers moderate terrain with rugged trail conditions and dramatic views. All of this section defines the south boundary of the Tabeguache Special Management Area, and while the trail stays high above the Tabeguache Canyon, riders get to experience the rugged terrain, fauna and wildlife that exist here. Coming from Grand Junction on Hwy 141, riders will drive through Nucla and head up the Delta-Nucla Rd. (FS 503) for 8 miles and park at the bottom of the Pinto Mesa Rd. which comes in on the left. Coming from either Montrose or Delta, riders can park at the bottom of Hauser Rd. (FS 603) where it intersects with the Delta-Nucla Rd. It is highly recommended that you obtain the BLM Nucla 1:100,000 scale topo map before heading out on any rides in the West End.
          From the Pinto Mesa Rd. follow the Delta-Nucla Rd up for approx. 8 miles until you meet the Hauser Rd. and the signed Paradox Trail coming in from the right on the Hauser Rd.. Follow the Delta-Nucla Rd. for a few hundred yards looking for a jeep road coming in from the left. If you start dropping into the Tabeguache Creek drainage you’ve missed your turnoff. The old jeep trail is not maintained and is rough with plenty of hazards including ruts, rocks and overgrown trail conditions. The Glencoe Bench is relatively narrow so if you should get off trail it is easy to find by crisscrossing. During late spring there may be water on the trail and in some of the open meadow sections. The trail can get lost on the meadows but keep looking ahead for the opening at the other end as the trail heads down the bench. From the trail about four miles down you will get some nice views of the canyon immediately to the north including the North Fork of the Tabeguache and Starvation Point.  You will pass through large stands of ponderosa pine but as you loose elevation the terrain gets drier and rockier. After seven miles you will head around a point on your left as the trail drops steeply and ascends back up to Pinto Mesa on a short hike-a-bike section. On Pinto Mesa, you will climb out to a dirt road, turn left and follow for a half mile until you come to a T intersection. The Paradox Trail heads west (right) but for this loop you will go left and drop off the mesa where you will meet the Delta-Nucla Rd. and your vehicle. (or an 8 mile climb back up to the Hauser Rd.)  As with all rides, please follow IMBA’s Rules of the Trail including leaving gates as you find them. There are many grazing permits in this area.
The West End of Montrose County has many undiscovered riding opportunities and many good places to camp.  The best camp sites are situated at water crossings. Sites on BLM ground include:
Tabeguache Creek and CR Z-26 about 10 miles north of Nucla.
South  Fork Mesa Creek and CR P-12. Access to this site is off Hwy 141 and O-14. Travel up O-14 for four miles and right on P-12 for 1 mile.
Hwy 141 and Dolores River crossing (CR Q-13 approx. 30 miles south of Gateway on 141)
If you have questions regarding trail conditions or other riding opportunities here in the West End, contact me at
Posted by Paul Koski
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