Bittle Loop

Round Trip Distance: 4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 8524 - 8720 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 90 mins.
Trailhead: La Fair/Bittle Loop
Fee: none
Attractions: Pine/aspen forest

The Bittle Loop trail is located in the Uncompahgre National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The Uncompahgre National Forest covers almost 1500 square miles. The Bittle Loop trail is in the Uncompahgre Plateau area of the forest. Uncompahgre is a Ute Indian word that has connotations about the waters: "Dirty Water" or "Rocks that make water red". It is interesting that the Spanish name Colorado (colored red) and the Ute word Uncompahgre both refer to 'red water'. That is only because it makes one wonder if the Spanish got the idea for the name from the Utes who were already here when they arrived upon the scene.

The trailhead for the Bittle Loop trail is located north of the Divide Forks Campground on Forest Road 402 which is also the Divide Road. Measure about 8.5 miles from the northern forest boundary and lookout for the signs for the La Fair and Bittle Loop trails on the east side of the road. If you come to the Uranium Road turnoff then you have gone a little too far.

The Bittle Loop trail follows an old jeep road as it leaves the parking area.

Just under 3/4 of a mile the Mud Holes trail branches off on the right.

It is common to see deer and elk in the area. Usually they are back in the trees away from the trail but in this picture a buck, that is still in velvet, is crossing the road. The road through this area is covered with about an inch of powdery dirt and makes it easier to walk soft and quiet. Deer can normally hear you coming from a pretty good distance and also at times feel the ground vibrating. I have had them raise their head a hundred yards away when my camera makes its normal shutter sound.

At 1.1 miles the La Fair trail comes in on the left after having made a 3 mile loop through another section of the forest.

The elevation changes on the Bittle Loop are very subtle making it a real pleasure to hike. This gentle rise is probably the steepest hill on the trail.

As the trail loops around it passes close to the rim of the canyon above Smith Creek. As it continues looping to the west and north the trail enters a large open meadow area. The trail borders the meadow near the tree line as it continues back toward the Divide Road. There were a lot of fresh elk tracks all through this area.

At the 3.25 mile point of the hike the trail is met by the west end of the Mud Holes trail that we had passed earlier.

The last 1/3 mile of the loop follows the Divide Road back to the trailhead. The point where the Bittle Loop rejoins the Divide Road is the closest point to the Divide Forks Campground which is nestled in the trees a few hundred yards away in this picture.

The last stretch of the loop along the road kinda takes a little away from the hike if there is any traffic but the forest along the road is open enough that you can hike just off to the side of the road without much difficulty. Whether your favorite outdoor pastime is hiking, mountain biking, ATV or just exploring in your 4x4 the Uncompahgre is a wonderland of miles and miles of roads and trails just waiting to be explored. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.