Love Mesa Section

One-way Distance: 18.5 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 8095 - 9695 feet
Elevation gain: 1,469 feet
Cellphone: 0-1 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Love Mesa/Cottonwood
Fee: none
Attractions: Aspen/conifer forest

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 18.5 mile section of the trail that begins off of the Divide Road and travels from Love Mesa to the Cottonwood trail ending at the Delta-Nucla Road.

Measuring from where the Divide Road leaves Highway 141 it is 36 miles to the Love Mesa trailhead.

The trail starts out climbing steeply away from the Divide Road gaining almost 150 feet in the first half mile.

The elevation profile of the trail shows the initial uphill climb to the highest point for this section of the Tabeguache trail and everything that follows afterwards.

From the trails highest point it descends for just over a mile before making another climb that gains back almost 100 feet of elevation.

From the top of the second hump there is a downhill roll that continues with very few interruptions for the next 7 miles. The surrounding forest where an occasional deer can be seen provides a peaceful setting to enjoy a good ride.

An intersection comes up at the 7.7 mile point where the Tabeguache trail quits following Forest Road 500 and transitions to FR #501. If you are going in the other direction the turn can be easy to miss. There is a Tabeguache trail marker at the southwest corner of the intersection but it isn't easily visible when coming from the other direction.

After turning off onto FR #501 the descent steepens as the trail drops off of Love Mesa into the East Escalante Creek drainage. The bottom of the drainage is about the halfway point for this section of the Tabeguache trail as it crosses the creek at the 9.8 mile point.

From the low point the trail begins a 2 mile climb that takes it over a ridge where it drops down into another branch of Escalante Creek. At the top of the ridge the trail transitions onto FR #504.

The same pattern continues as the trail climbs out of the drainage after crossing the creek.

The trail levels off and passes a ranch that is on the righthand side of the road and at the 18.4 mile point it passes the Cottonwood Trailhead. There are several primitive camping spots through this area with enough room for travel and toy trailers.

A short distance past the Cottonwood trailhead the trail reaches the Delta - Nucla Road which is the turnaround point for this post. To continue following the Tabeguache trail make a righthand turn.

Obviously riding this section of the Tabeguache trail in both directions as we did for this post the total distance comes out to 37 miles. The elevation gain on the return trip was a real grind but it was all over a fairly smooth road so that makes it much easier relatively speaking. Riding this section of the trail from north to south the elevation gain is 1,469 feet. If riding in the opposite direction it is 2,692 feet and if making the round trip it is 4,146 feet. There are some nice views along the Love Mesa Section of the Tabeguache trail and the entire length of it is in the forest. If you like the smell of aspen and pine trees you will enjoy it here. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or favorite OHV toy and 'Take a hike'.