Colorado Trail Day 22: Sharing the Trail with Dirt Bikes

It is 2:30 in the afternoon and we are in a tent waiting out the afternoon thunderstorm. Several mountain bikers and other thru hikers are hunkered down here at Tank Seven Creek.

The meadow at Tank Seven Creek

The water is a little murky and goes through a marshy area but it is the last water for the next 11 miles and was the first water for the last 12 miles. Thirteen miles is where we are calling it good for the day. Sometimes you have to manage to water and a threatening thunderstorm seals the deal.

We are now on the drier section of the trail and have transitioned from the intrusive granites and pressurized metamorphic gneisses and schists to explosive volcanic rocks.
Sheep Mountain (?) in Gunnison National Forest.

The volcanic mountain ranges have a different feel and look to them. Dark and more rounded, they are more foreboding than the jagged and glaciated Collegiate Peaks which we came through. We hike through several phases of volcanic rocks: andesite, banded rhyolite, and tuffs.

Flow banded Rhyolite. Rhyolite is the volcanic equivalent of granite and flows very slowly like tooth paste squeezed out of a tube.
Volcanic tuff formed from ash spewed from a volcano during an eruption

Despite the geology being great and fascinating, segments 15 and 16 have not been my favorite. Part of 15 and most of 16 are shared with dirt bikes. I am a believer in multiple use of public lands (if managed properly) and have appreciated the shared nature of the Colorado Trail. We have seen horses, mountain bikers, thru hikers, and hikers with dogs. It is nice to see people sharing and using the trail in different ways. This is very different from the John Muir Trail that we did last summer. The John Muir Trail went through National Parks and Wilderness Areas so was limited to hikers only.

Sharing the trail with a dirt bike. I am to the right standing behind the dead tree.

But, I have to say, sharing the trail with dirt bikes takes it to a whole different level. I don’t think it is a good idea to have motorized and non-motorized users on a single-track trail. Today we saw 16 dirt bikes on the trail. They come whipping around the bend, are noisy, intrusive, create deep ruts in the trail after a rain, and create a hazard for other users.

Trail erosion from dirt bikes and muddy conditions

Maybe it’s because I worked in transportation for part of my career but I am cringing. What will happen when the mountain bikers come charging in the other direction, horse packing group on the trail…and here come the dirt bikes. Whoa, it seems like an accident waiting to happen. I am a believer in multiple use but keep it separated between motorized and non-motorized.

Just the Facts

Total Miles: 13.4
Cumulative Miles: 278.5
Trail Segments: 15 and 16
Camp Elevation: 10324 feet, Tank Seven Creek and trail junction 
Elevation Gain:  696 feet
Elevation Loss: 1766 feet
Weather: Sunny in the morning, cool breeze, thunderstorm at around 2:30pm

One comment

  1. Just enjoying your commentary again. Reading a diverse description of the terrain, the wildlife, the rocks – it is a wonderful dialogue and brings those of us who unlikely will ever reach those trails and ridges a little escape of our own. Thank you!

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