Round Trip Distance: 4.4 miles
Elevation: 5236 - 5350 feet
Elevation gain: 349 feet
Cellphone: 1-3 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30mins.
Trailhead: 16 Rd. or Coal Gulch
Attractions: Nice connector
The Sarlector trail is located in the 18 Road Area north of Fruita, Colorado. The east end of the trail begins off of the Coal Gulch/V.8 Road where it takes a fun route up and over some foothills between the 16 Road and 18 Road areas before dropping into the Big Salt Wash drainage along 16 Road. The Sarlector trail provides an alternate route to the Sarlacc trail that is much shorter and easier than beginning at the North Fruita Desert or campground trailheads. We assume that the name is a clever contraction of Sarlacc Connector. Just like the Sarlacc and Edge Loop trails the Sarlector trail is closed seasonally between December 1st and May 1st to reduce pressure on the elk and mule deer population.
For this post we began at a primitive campsite along the Coal Gulch Road across from the point where the Frontside trail makes its connection. The Frontside and Sarlector trails are only about 1 tenth of a mile apart. From this end of the Sarlector trail it is 1.9 miles up Coal Gulch to the lower end of the Sarlacc trail and 6.7 miles to the upper end. Most mountain bikers that ride the Sarlacc trail prefer to do so in the direction from the upper end to the lower end the idea being that the ride up Coal Gulch is more pleasant than the steep climb up the west end of the Sarlacc trail.
As the trail starts out it crosses the wash that runs along the side of the road and heads toward the hills.
From there the trail travels back along the base of the hillside in a westerly direction.
Eventually the trail turns up a wash where it rounds a switchback that leads up the side of the hill. These aren't monster hills but they are still good for a nice workout.
Once on top of the hill the trail follows an easy course as it continues west toward 16 Road.
A rollover provides passage through a pasture fence.
From the fenceline the trail begins working its way through the juniper trees gradually losing a little elevation as it progresses.
At the edge of hill the trail begins a long sweeping descent that takes it into the drainage of Big Salt Wash.
At the base of that hill the trail makes a long trek up the valley. The elevation changes are minor with only a few bumps and side washes making this a fast stretch of trail.
Just before reaching 16 Road the trail crosses Big Salt Wash.
For the time being it all comes to an end at 16 Road. Rumor has it that there are plans to chain together many more segments of trail until there is a continuous route that goes from the Palisade end of the Little Book Cliffs all the way to the Loma end. For those that would like to begin at the 16 Road end of the Sarlector trail there isn't an official parking lot but there is ample room for multiple vehicles where the trail begins.