Desolation Ridge

One-way Distance: 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 5997 - 6281 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 20 mins.
Trailhead: Jumbo Mountain
Fee: none
Attractions: Nice alternative route

Desolation Ridge is part of the Jumbo Mountain Trails System in Paonia, Colorado. The upper end of the trail begins at a junction with the Shitake Ridge and Wapity Whip trails. From there it travels down a ridge for a half mile losing a little over 280 of elevation along the way. It comes to an end at the point where the Wapity Whip trail crosses Plumbers Crack.

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.

At present there aren't any trail signs but Desolation Ridge is pretty easy to find if you have a map. Wapity Whip comes up the south side of the ridge from the direction of Plumbers Crack and drops off the north side after a few feet while the Desolation Ridge trail takes off down the ridgeline. Going in the other direction up the mountain is Shitake Ridge.

For the first 6 or 7 hundred feet the trail drops at a gradual pace.

The elevation profile shows what can be expected as the average grade is only 11% while some of the steeper spots are up around 20%.

By the time the trail reaches the midpoint of the ridge it is well into its descent.

There is some nice scenery to enjoy from the ridges elevated position before dropping back down into the valley.

During the spring and early summer months there will be lots of wildflowers and green grass and bushes to enliven the landscape in the valley.

The trail flattens out once again as it enters the trees and finishes up.

After having already done Jumbo Ridge, The Ridge of Doom, Shitake Ridge and The Plunge the Desolation Ridge trail seemed relatively flat. While those other trails may have skewed our judgement the Desolation Ridge trail still seemed like an enjoyable roll off the mountain. It should be a good option for getting around in the area no matter which direction you are going. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.