Exploring the Wild West End
BECAUSE IT’s THERE
Even by West End standards, the Y-11 Trail can seem a bit knarly and unkept, but I suspect as this trail gets discovered and ridden in it will still have that West End knarly feel to it. You’ll soon discover that the Y-11 is named for the county road also known locally as the River Road, only the trail parallels the road a couple hundred feet above. As advanced trails, go it’s pretty straight forward as it climbs a gentle incline around the south canyon wall toward the confluence and overlook. That’s the confluence of the Dolores and San Miguel Rivers in what is probably one of the last great expanses of open public lands in Colorado. The unmarked trail can be accessed just off Hwy 141 about 30 miles south of Gateway. Look for an old iron bridge crossing the San Miguel about three miles above the confluence and just before the old mill town site of Uravan. The Y-11 can be seen as it makes its way along the south edge of an open flat.
The Y-11 demands attention, not only for the constant technical maneuvers that arise but riders beware, there is an element of danger to this trail. Traversing a canyon wall on an old cow trail leaves riders exposed to the shear cliff faces below, at least in a couple of spots where you get a bird’s eye view of the Hanging Flume directly across the canyon.
This is a great “out and back” trail allowing riders an opportunity to check out the hazards and scenery on the slow incline up to a wide bench which begins above the confluence, about four miles from the bridge. If you ride the entire length of the bench (another mile), you can see across to Saucer Basin, where the Y-11 eventually finds itself. Turn around here and enjoy the ride back.
Entire ride: Approx. 10 miles Moderately technical and difficult
For a more strenuous loop ride on the Y-11, stay on CR Y-11 as it parallels the San Miguel River down to the confluence with the Dolores River. Another mile on the county road and you’ll see a big drainage and a knarly two track coming down on the left. Hike a Bike the two track up for about a half mile and you’ll see the Y-11 joining in from the left. Much of it is rideable but be prepared for an ungroomed singletrack trail- West End fashion. You’ll soon find yourself on the top end of that wide bench and ready for the long awaited descent back to the bridge.
Entire ride: Approx. 13 miles Extremely Technical and difficult