Z Ditch

One-way Distance: 0.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 6080 - 6213 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Elephant Skin Road
Fee: none
Attractions: Awesome gully

The Z Ditch trail is located in the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and Wilderness near Delta, Colorado. The trail begins off of the Elephant Skin Road where it follows a route that begins as a shallow adobe wash but soon becomes a much deeper gully that is a branch of the Loutsenhizer Arroyo. The trail zigs and zags its way through the gully until it meets up with the Slanty Bridge trail and comes to an end. (Oliver D. "Pappy" Loutsenhizer was an early pioneer that separated himself from the Alfred Packer party before they met their doom near Lake City.)

The Z Ditch trail begins near the 5.2 mile point of the Elephant Skin Road measuring from the Elephant Skin Staging Area. There are several routes to get there though, as the map reveals, other than just following the road.

From the road the trail heads north across the adobe flats. If you have been around adobe much then you should know that the trail will be unusable by any means when it is soaked with water.

No sooner does the trail get going before it enters a shallow arroyo.

Things quickly start getting fun as the wash snakes its way through the landscape with a few optional features thrown in for good measure.

The further you go the deeper she gets.

Before long you become completely concealed from anyone that is not with you. They might hear you go by but they won't see anything except maybe a dust trail that appears to be smoking out of the ground.

Just before the 4 tenths of a mile point the trail shoots up out of the wash, like a whale coming up for air, to get around some obstacles.

After briefly surfacing the trail reenters the labyrinth and continues on its way.

The trail becomes more irregular as it searches out the best route around each twist and turn sometimes climbing over cave ins and such.

Z Ditch comes to an end at a point where the wash widens and it meets up with the Slanty Bridge trail. The Slanty Bridge trail is crossing the Loutsenhizer Arroyo so no matter which way you go it will be uphill for at least a little way. When we were here we went to the left to get to the southern end of Slanty Bridge and then came barrowling back through on our way back to the Elephant Skin Staging Area. As the map shows there are several routes that you can create that take advantage of the Z Ditch trail. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.