One-way Distance: 2.9 miles
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 7115 - 7560 feet
Cellphone: 1-4 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: County Road 10
Attractions: Fun singletracks
The Big Cheese is located in the Ridgway Area Trails System (RAT) near the town of Ridgway, Colorado. RAT is the Ridgway Chapter of the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA). The system of trails that The Big Cheese is part of is on land south of Ridgway State Park that is managed by the BLM. Names for the trails take on a fun twist as they relate in one form or other to many people's least favorite rodent the rat. NOTE: All trails are closed between December 1 to April 30.
To get to the main trailhead drive north from Ridgway, measuring about 1.8 miles from the traffic light at the intersection of Highways 550 and 62. Turn right onto County Road 10 and continue for another half mile. The trailhead will be on the left hand side of the road.
The Big Cheese is the main route from the trailhead to access the other trails in the system. The best other option is the Rattus Maximus trail.
The route climbs along a good singletrack from the trailhead traveling through a pinyon and juniper forest. Deer can usually be spotted in various places along the trails.
The 445 feet of elevation gain that The Big Cheese trail makes as it climbs the hillside is spread out enough that it never gets much more than moderately difficult.
Several switchbacks take some of the work out of the climb. It also appears that a lot of dirt was moved to smooth over many of the rocks and making the riding a lot easier.
At the 1.6 mile point the Speedy Gonzales trail branches off on the right.
At the 2 mile point the Exterminator trail begins on the left.
After passing the Exterminator trail the route levels off quite a bit.
The last part of the trail courses around the west side of the mountain on a mostly easy grade.
Just under the 3 mile point The Big Cheese comes to an end. From here you can explore the trails on the west side of the mountain beginning with either the Rat Trap or Rattus Maximus trails or check out the other trails to the north and east. On the day that we were here taking pictures for this post we rode Speedy Gonzales and Splinter next and then took on Ratical, Plagueground and Double Crosser before cruising down the Rat Trap trail, Squeeker and the Maze to get back to the trailhead. There are plenty of options here to have a great time. The fun isn't just restricted to mountain bikers as we came across several hikers that were taking advantage of the trails. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.
NOTE: All trails are closed between December 1 to April 30.