County Line Loop 3

Round Trip Distance: 7.4k/4.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
XC Skill level:
Elevation: 10,776 - 10,820 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: County Line Nordic Area
Fee: none
Attractions: Long loop

County Line Loop 3 is part of the County Line Nordic Trails in the Grand Mesa National Forest between Grand Junction and Delta, Colorado. Beginning near the trailhead Loop 3 follows a route that forms a large loop around the Scales Lake Reservoirs. Along the way it connects to most of the other trails in the area as well as 2 trails that connect to the Skyway Nordic Trails.

The County Line trailhead is located near mile marker 30 on Highway 65. For this post we followed Loop 3 in the clockwise direction. The most direct route for that is to take the middle trail from the parking area which is the west side of Loop 1 and follow it to the point where Loop 1 turns to the right and the route straight ahead becomes the Tower Road.

For this post we went at it a little different by following the east side of Loop 1 to get to Scales Glade where we continued up to where it meets the Tower Road. That route is also marked with 3s for Loop 3 so it isn't like we were going the wrong way.

It had been snowing so we were breaking trail until we met up with the grooming crew.

After connecting up with the Tower Road the route is more out in the open and exposed to the elements where the wind can create white out conditions at times. On this day we were back to breaking trail again while the groomers were off somewhere else.

Near the northwest corner of Scales Lake #1 the Tower Road turns to the right as it is met by the Scales Lake Road. The Scales Lake Road is a groomed route that connects the County Line and Skyway Nordic areas.

Loop 3 continues following the Tower Road and as it nears the midpoint between Scales Lake #1 and Scales Lake #2 it passes an intersection where the Kannah Crossing trail branches off on the left. Kannah Crossing is another route that connects the Skyway and County Line Nordic areas.

A radio tower comes up as Loop 3 travels around the north end of Scales Lake #2. This is where the Tower Road ends and Loop 3 continues on its own.

As Loop 3 turns south along Scales Lake #2 it passes an intersection with the Outer Limits trail. From there Loop 3 begins undulating up and down in elevation as it encounters one small hill after another.

The point where Loop 3 begins turning toward the west it is met once again by the Outer Limits trail. There is also a short spur that goes to a spot along the rim that overlooks the Island Lake area and the south side of the Grand Mesa.

The hills between the Overlook and the trailhead are bigger than those encountered up to that point.

Loop 3 meets up with Loop 2 and comes to an end. From here it is about 0.6 miles back to the trailhead whether you follow Loop 2 to the left or to the right so flip a coin or take your favorite route. For this post the slideshow reflects us taking the left fork. With all of its hills Loop 3 is one of the more difficult routes in the County Line area. For those that are looking for something a little longer and more challenging than the other trails then Loop 3 is just the ticket. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.