The Plunge

One-way Distance: 0.9 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 5984 - 6423 feet
Cellphone: 2-4 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Jumbo Mountain
Fee: none
Attractions: Big drop then moderate after

The Plunge is part of the Jumbo Mountain Trails System in Paonia, Colorado. The top of The Plunge begins off of the Ridge of Doom trail where as its name implies it makes a steep drop off the side of the ridge. Once the initial plunge is over the steepness of the trail begins moderating and it becomes more of a downhill roll along the drainage until it comes to an end at the Plumbers Crack trail.

To get to the trailhead head east on 3rd Street in Paonia and turn left onto Rio Grande Avenue. Follow Rio Grande as it crosses the creek and turns into Pan American Avenue and begins climbing the hill. The trailhead is at the end of Pan American Avenue. There is only room for a handful of vehicles to park at the trailhead but there is additional parking at the bottom of the hill at the Apple Valley Park where there is also a restroom.

We were unable to find the top of the trail on the Ridge of Doom on our initial attempt so we ended up starting at the bottom where we were able to find several candidates to choose from. The one that we settled on that most closely matched the map that we were using ended up being right at the half mile point of Plumbers Crack a short distance past where Zip-N-Out begins.

The trail doesn't appear to get as much use as most of the others but it is still fairly easy to follow as it takes off through the trees.

There's a fork that comes up where someone made a cairn with a pile of bones. The left fork loops back around to Plumbers Crack so the right fork is the one for The Plunge.

After a tenth of a mile or so the trail reaches a wash and turns up the left side of it toward Jumbo Mountain.

As the trial progresses it becomes more entrenched and easier to follow. There are also no more confusing side trails to worry about.

The trail ends up working its way higher up on the side of the hill above the wash.

A nice solid bridge comes up that spans a side wash.

Up to this point the trail hasn't been all that steep.

The last 6 or 7 hundred feet is where all that changes and 'The Plunge' begins to live up to its name.

The Plunge reaches the Ridge of Doom at the half mile point from the top of that trail measuring from the Grassy Knoll and at the 0.8 mile point from where the Ridge of Doom meets the Powerline Road at the bottom of the mountain. Currently the spot isn't marked but if you know right where to look over the edge you can probably find it.

This is the view looking down The Plunge. It is a lot less radical than Shitake Ridge and the extreme part is mostly over once the trail makes its initial drop. The slideshow at the end of this post shows the trail in both directions. We hiked the trail when we took the photos for this post and it turned out to be a pretty good hike. We did notice a few mountain bike tracks as well as some boot other tracks so the trail is still getting at least some use. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.