The first part of this ride follows the Ute Creek Trail, then uses Road 6 3/10 and Highway 141 to make it to the Gateway Resort.
The normal 4 day trip calls for leaving the Blue Creek Hut and riding 12 miles back up the road where we had just come down… then traveling on double track all the way down to Highway 141. Kevin offered to take us back up to ride down one of his favorite trails… The Ute Creek Trail. It was to become one of my favorites as well.
Kevin showed up right on time and we placed our mounts back in the rack on the back of his SUV. After driving for 20 minutes he dumped us off at the Ute Creek trailhead. Like magic, he had yanked us right out of the desert and back into the thick forest. The bright sunshine felt soothing as we pulled our bikes off the rack. I like sunshine. That is why I live 20 miles inland from the ocean, where the skies are blue from 320 to 360 days a year. We said our goodbyes, (we were not going to see Kevin again), then mounted up.
Please enjoy this interactive map of this ride.
After a quarter mile of relative flatness the Ute Creek Trail (Trail 608) drops off into the Ute Creek drainage. What was a dry looking pine forest instantly turned into a rain forest. It was foggy, and everything was GREEN… everything! Green vines hung in green trees which grew out of the green earth that in some places was studded with some green rocks… or at least gray rocks covered with green moss. The mud puddles reflected everything else and therefore also appeared green.
The thickness of the vegetation reminded me of when we visited the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii. The dampness reminded me of traveling through Eureka, California. The soothing sun was completely blocked out by the canopy of trees and the fog.
A mile or so down the hill we came across some guys working on the trail. I normally stop and thank anyone who works on a trail… but “the boys” hardly slowed… and would have been miles ahead of me if I’d stopped and talked… I just slowed and yelled “thanks” and just kept moving. They looked like they wore uniforms of some sort… maybe I wasn’t supposed to be talking with them.
About 3 miles from the drop off, trees began to thin and deep brush started taking over… the trail started to resemble a water slide… without the water. The dirt banks were as high as my seat with 4 feet of brush on top of them.
For a stretch, the dirt turned into rock… and it didn’t take long for one of us to have a flat tire. As I emerged from a turn I found Nate pulling his bike off the Ute Creek Trail. The replacement tube he had brought turned out to be for his road bike. I gave him one of mine, and within a few minutes we were again rolling.
The bottom part of the Ute Creek Trail runs across some flat cow pastures. At one point we had to shoo some cattle off to continue. The trail then begins to go up and down a series of hills. The boys smoked me (or as Bubby likes to say “dusted me up”) during these climbs… but were kind enough to wait at the top of each.
After about 2.5 miles of pastures, then hills, the Ute Trail intersects road 6 3/10, which we would follow all the way to the Highway 141. Road 6 3/10 climbs… then falls… climbs… then falls… until we get to the point where it falls… and falls… and falls. We dropped almost 3000 feet in 8 miles. I was worried my brake pads would either catch on fire or just melt for that one decline. I don’t think Caleb or Drew even used their brakes.
Once on Highway 141, we still had 4.5 miles to get to the Gateway Resort… all downhill. The problem for me was there was a 20 mph wind blowing up the hill… so I had to pedal at least 21 mph to keep advancing. The boys got tired of waiting for me once we hit the highway and… disappeared very quickly. This was nothing like earlier on the Ute Creek Trail!
The Gateway Resort is incredible. A huge butte towers over the resort which sits across the highway from the Delores River… which was flowing well into late June. The rooms were so plush I knew I really didn’t belong there. Remote control drapes… large screen (at least 48 inch) TV’s in each room… real paintings on the walls… everything top of the line. The shower was a huge contrast to the trash-bag affair I had used the day before.
Nate and I (the old men) roomed together and, of course, no one really wanted to room with Caleb… but Drew did (brother-in-law’s duty, you know).
After cleaning up we met in the hotel restaurant. We each had our complimentary $50 voucher that Kevin included in the trip… and it was a good thing. Drinks, hors d’oeuvres (appetizers), a fine meal, and a nice tip… our $50 was done. We swam in a huge pool, soaked in the spa, then passed out in comfy beds. The Ute Creek Trail… the Gateway Resort… what a day… what a trip! I would recommend tis trip to anyone who wants to get away from it all.
We had paid Kevin $30 dollars per car to shuttle our vehicles to the Gateway from Fruita… so all we had to do the next morning was load our vehicles and head back towards home (instead of having to hire a shuttle or hitch-hiking).