Smith Point Trail
The First Leg
The Smith point Trail is the first part of a four day, Hut to Hut trip called the Tabeguache.
My fellow riders on the Tabeguache were Nate, his brother Drew, and their brother-in-law Caleb. Drew and Caleb were 28 years old while Nate was the “old man” at 29. I had met these young men an hour earlier at the Single Tracks Bike Shop in Fruita. Kevin, who runs the Tabeguache Trip, introduced us and had us sign some waivers. For more details about my fellow riders, Kevin, or the trip… click on Tabeguache.
The Tabeguache trip winds through canyons and over hills of the Uncompaghre Plateau, which juts upward on the western edge of Colorado. As with many of the trails we ride, the majority of this trip takes place on BLM land. As Jim, a felllow teacher and mountain biker always says, “If you are ever stopped on private property, just tell them you thought this was BLM land.”
The order of the trip is as follows… click on another leg if desired.
Just before we set off, Drew dropped his GPS on the ground and the front glass shattered into a spider web. Basically… unusable! He was really worried since he had borrowed it. The pressure was now on me since we now only had my GPS, which I had borrowed from my little brother Jamie. I had entered all of Kevin’s waypoints before the trip and was pretty sure I knew how to use it.
I looked at the Dominguez Conservation Sign, then checked my GPS… we were almost exactly at 8,000 feet elevation. Kevin took a picture of us, we said goodbye, and zoomed 4 miles down a dirt road into Dominguez Canyon… heading for the Smith Point Trail.
Although the sun was shining bright, the wind-chill factor was significant. It wasn’t until we got to the bottom that we got lost. There were three different roads heading out in three different directions.
Please enjoy this interactive map of this ride.
Click on the blue “P” for Driving Directions to the Trailhead.
Have you done this ride? What did you think of it? How about sharing your thoughts on our Visitor Stories page?
The first one we tried dead-ended after 100 yards or so… The second one began to lead us away from the desired waypoint, that I had showing on my GPS… The third time was the charm… The Smith Point Trail!!
The trail wove along the creek through a thick forest. About a mile up the Smith Point Trail I rounded a turn and found the guys off their bikes. Nate said they had stopped for an energy bar… so I dug one out and followed suit.
It was then that I realized their packs were a lot smaller than mine. I brought everything, all 36 items Kevin had recommended, including an extra tire (and tubes) and 5 liters of water. I think the boys brought most of what was recommended, but split it between the three of them. Not everyone needed to bring a pump… or a spare tire… or a multi-tool. My pack probably weighed twice theirs!
That’s why they were getting ahead of me. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
After we resumed riding we came into a little valley where the stream widened. As we approached I learned why. The trail passed right over the top of a beaver dam. We all hike-a-biked the dam and took pictures.
The last time the Smith Point Trail crossed this stream it didn’t cross back. It went straight up the side of a mountain… absolutely un-ride-able.
As we dragged ourselves (and our mounts) up a steep, loose path… the forest began to thin… the grade began to level… and our mouths had turned to cotton. When we saw the Smith Point sign we knew we had made the top.
We were glad to jump back on our bikes following a brief hydration break. We sorted out which road to take and finally entered the meadow to see Hut #1, which looked real tiny sitting in the middle of a huge meadow. It’s itty-bitty mass lay behind some sort of a cattle pen. We passed through the cattle gate at about 2:00 pm to complete our 15.9 mile journey.
We entered Hut #1 (a real small cabin with 4 bunk beds). Kevin had already delivered our bags and a cooler with the night’s meal. We found the hut was stocked with several gallons of water (no running water), plus various snacks like M and M’s, mixed nuts, Cliff Bars, and much more. We all ate some of these (unhealthy but tasty!!) snacks while we sat on the “front porch.” We found we could only fit three lawn chairs on the porch, which was okay as each of us did a little hike to check out the surroundings.
Each of us took turns going to the outhouse… which stood a good 50 feet from Hut #1.
To enter the outhouse I had to climb a short set of stairs. As I sat, I left the door open and enjoyed the scenery. There was no one within miles of this place. I soon found out why the toilet was raised… so my _ _ _ _ could fall into a bucket filled with wood chips. I later found out Kevin had to collect these buckets (in his mini-van) when he dropped off our bags.
When I returned I noticed Nate (the old man, ha!) had pulled a repair manual out of his suitcase… and had begun tuning his bike. Drew and Caleb were still eating, so I decided I was going to look around. After hiking the perimeter of the valley I was excited by the fact that we seemed to be in the middle of… nowhere… not another person or vehicle did I see. I found what looked like an abandoned cabin nearby… but nothing else. Just open meadows divided by stands of Aspens.
Nate finally decided it was time to cook… barbequed chicken! He and I started getting things ready to barbeque while Caleb and Nate got plates and utensils ready. The meal was a total success!
We all read until dark, (which was about 10:00 p.m.) then hit the sack. The bunks felt pretty good after a busy day.
We didn’t need to start the wood stove, a good thing as we probably would have had a major explosion… Caleb’s gas. I don’t know if it was the altitude, Cliff Bars, or what… Hut #1 smelled worse than that bucket of cedar chips in the outhouse! I was tired from the Smith Point Trail yet excited about the prospects of the next day’s ride on the Divide Peaks Trail.
Click below to see another part of this trip.
For an overview of the entire Tabeguache trip click Tabeguache.