One-way Distance: 7.3 miles
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 9567 - 9871 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Transfer Rd/Bull Creek Rd
Attractions: Forest singletrack
Tabeguache (TAB-a-watch) is a 150 mile long trail that has one end in Grand Junction, Colorado and the other end in Montrose. This post covers the Pool Creek Section which stretches between the East Bull Road and the Transfer Road. Most of this section of the Tabeguache trail is a singletrack. Jeeps that are driving the Tabeguache trail would need to substitute the Divide Road for the Pool Creek Section.
For this post we are starting on the Montrose end of the Pool Creek Section where it begins off of the Transfer Road. The Transfer Road begins in Olathe and ends at the Divide Road on the Uncompahgre Plateau. The Pool Creek Section picks up where the Transfer Road Section of the Tabeguache Trail leaves off at the point where the Parallel trail crosses the Transfer Road just a short distance before the Transfer Road meets up with the Divide Road. You will notice in the picture that there are a large set of powerlines that also cross the road at this point.
As the Parallel trail heads north it follows the powerlines. After a short distance the trail and the powerlines turn westward. Near the 0.8 mile point from where this section began off of the Transfer Road the Tabeguache Trail branches off onto the singletrack of the Gray's Creek trail.
The first part of the Gray's Creek trail passes through some young aspens that are encroaching upon the trail to the point that you might have to use your hands to part the way. After a short distance the aspens give way to a forest of conifers that are sparse in comparison.
At the 1.5 mile point there is a trail that comes up on the right from the canyon and intersects with the Gray's Creek trail. A Tabeguache trail marker nailed to a tree at this point makes it appear that the Tabeguache trail itself is coming up out of the canyon. That isn't the case though because the Tabeguache trail in fact follows the Gray's Creek trail for its full length so at this point be sure not to depart from it by taking the trail on the right that drops down into the canyon.
The Gray's Creek trail continues along the hillside for a little further and then it descends some steep rocky switchbacks that eventually take it down to the creek where it makes its crossing at a much shallower part of the canyon. We felt that the steep rocky descent required advanced mountain biking skills so this is the spot where the black diamond rating comes in.
A map of the trails elevation profile shows how it is all laid out between the Transfer and East Bull Roads. It does tend to exaggerate the elevation changes though which aren't nearly as steep as it makes them appear.
Other than a few tree roots and rocky spots the climb back out of the drainage is a tad bit easier than the drop into it was.
Once the trail gets out of the drainage the going gets pretty sweet. The trail alternates between groves of trees and open meadows as it continues.
The Gray's Creek trail comes out onto a road and appears to come to an end but if you follow the road to the left the singletrack actually picks up again after a short distance.
The arrow on the bottom of the trail sign where the singletrack Gray's Creek trail picks up again is for the Paradox trail. If the Paradox sticker ever fades or falls off then people might mistakenly think that the Tabeguache trail goes to the left at this point when instead it continues following Gray's Creek.
Somewhere around the 6 mile point the Gray's Creek trail comes to an end. At this point the Pool Creek trail begins on the right. The Tabeguache trail continues straight ahead.
As the Tabeguache trail continues straight ahead it picks up the Parallel trail once again and follows it northward for the rest of the Pool Creek Section to the East Bull Road.
The Parallel trail is a double track that is also open to ATV's that are no wider than 50 inches. For the most part it is easy and very fast. In one spot it almost touches the Divide Road.
The Pool Creek Section comes to an end at the point where the Parallel trail crosses the Bull Creek Road. From here the Tabeguache Trail continues to the right. To the left the Bull Creek Road reaches the Divide Road after about a quarter mile.