I have heard plenty of riders talk highly of the area and wanted to explore the singletrack the area has to offer. Last week I finally decided to take the 90 minute trip to Gunnison and check out Hartman Rocks. Planning the ride was a little tricky. While there are plenty of trails to ride, most of them short. I wanted to ride a loop on as many of the trails as possible without much overlap with the more singletrack, the better. I studied a map and referred to a couple of websites to get trail descriptions to get an idea for my ride. I came up with what seemed like a decent loop.
I got a relatively early start on Wednesday morning. The area is high desert with nearly no shade the entire ride so I wanted to beat the heat and the worst of the afternoon sunshine.
From the main trailhead, I began my ride on Jack's Trail. This singlerack winds uphill to the main area of Hartman Rocks covering less than mile. Jack's ends at the upper parking lot. Crossing the parking lot brought me to Tailpipe and The Ridge. Tailpipe is less than a half mile and a good warm up for The Ridge.
|Smooth section of Tailpipe|
|Riding along Ridgeline|
|Looking toward the Crested Butte area|
|Smoother section of Ridgeline|
|Beginning of the downhill on Ridgeline|
|Trail traveling between boulders|
on Top of the World
|Top of the World heading into|
a rockier stretch
After leaving Water Treatment the trail rides through miles of sagebrush. The vegetation rarely rises more than knee high and you can see for miles with the occasional rock feature standing out in the vast sage ground cover. I moved onto Gateway followed by Josie's. Both these trails were a mix of smooth singletrack with technical sections of rock features and slickrock thrown in to keep it interesting. A couple of the technical sections sneak up on you and can be tricky to clear. Both trails start out with climbs and finish with descents. The downhill at the end of Josie's was particularly fun with a fair amount of elevation loss to finish off the trail.
My only incident of the day occurred on Gateway. My tire spun on a section of slickrock. I drifted back about two feet so I could get better footing. As I drifted, my rear tire hit a large rock and I flipped to my back. It happened at very slow speed but surprised me since I didn't realize the rock was there. My bike was fine since I broke its fall as the chainring managed to puncture the skin on one shin, while a pedal hit the other shin. My legs were fairly dusty so it kept the blood from my chainring tattoo from running too much. Both shins had nice lumps from the incident and stung for a few minutes.
|Rock outcropping breaking up the sage|
|Start of decent on Dave Moe's|
|View from end of Dave Moe's|
|Road between Dave Moe's and Enchanted Forest|
|Aspens on Enchanted Forest|
|Looking back on a section of slickrock|
From Sky Line I followed Broken Shovel to Josho's. Josho's was my favorite trail at Hartman Rocks. After a half mile of climbing, the trail began a mile descent on a fun section of flowy singletrack with a few twists and steeper sections to add to the fun. The landscaped changed from the endless sage to a brief section of meadow and aspens as I descended through gullies. From Josho's low point the trail begins a .75 mile climb. This was mile favorite climb of the day. The climb is fairly steep at spots and takes momentum to clear patches of rocks. The scenery in this section is also neat as the trail climbs toward some interesting rock formations that are rather large which adds to appeal of this trail.
|Climbing next to a rock|
outcropping on Josho's
|Near the end of Josho's|
|Cows are fairly common when|
riding on BLM land
|Sea of Sage|
|View from Alonzo's|
|Another view from Alonzo's|
|Near beginning of Behind the Rocks|
|Approaching a slickrock section|
|A look back over the main area of Hartman Rocks|
|Riding Behind the Rocks|
The riding at Hartman Rocks far exceeded my expectations. I rode nearly 29 miles and never was bored. Of the nearly 29 miles, somewhere around 27 miles traveled on singletrack, and at most .5 miles were repeated trail. The trails generally had great flow with just the right amount of technical obstacles thrown in. While there are plenty of other places to ride that are more challenging. The vast trail network at Hartman Rocks allows you to put in a long cross country ride.
|Behind the Rocks|
Even with so many trails and dirt roads in the area, route finding was fairly easy with the exception of the end of my ride. Nearly every trail is signed on both ends and at the trailheads, as well as several key road crossings which feature kiosks with maps. I highly recommend the area as a side trip to any mountain biker visiting Crested Butte on a mulitday trip. Hartman Rocks is even a worthy mountain bike destination by itself.
To see a trail map of the area click the link below.
Hartman Rocks Map