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Backpacking: Colorado > San Juan National Forest > Mancos-Dolores Ranger District

Quick Facts

Aspen Loop Trail

Average Time: 3-5 Hours Driving time for an ATV
Beginning Elevation: 9,000 Feet (2805.5 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate For all modes of travel
High Point: 11,000 Feet (3428.9 Meters) Windy Gap
Length: 39.0 Miles (65.0 Kilometers)


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General Description

The Aspen Loop Trail is a multipurpose trail constructed by the San Juan National Forest and the Four Corners Trail Club with funding from the Forest Service and the Colorado State Trails Program. The trail is open to ATVs, motorized trail bikes, horseback riders, hikers, and mountain bike riders.

ROUTE: The trail begins at the Aspen Loop Trailhead and heads easterly to the Twin Lakes/Windy Gap area on Forest Road 350, then northwesterly to the Lost Canyon Road (Forest Road 560) via Forest Roads 561 and 556. Finally, the trail heads southeast on Forest Road 375 to the Jersey Jim Lookout Tower, then south back to the starting point.

TRAIL SIGNS: At all intersections, large forest-road type signs indicate Aspen Loop Trail with arrows designating the direction. Along the trail, carsonite posts with ATV or bike decals will keep you on course.

The terrain on the trail consists of old logging roads and trails through aspen groves and spruce forests. Attractions to look for include Transfer Campground, Jersey Jim Lookout Tower, wildflowers, wildlife, streams, ponds, and tent camping areas.

Please respect the restricted travel zone at the Pole Springs Area. As you turn north off Forest Development Roads 561 and 556, motorized vehicles are required to stay on marked trails and roads. Please do not disturb off-trail flora and fauna.

Please proceed at moderate speeds to protect yourself, other trail users, and wild animals. Several parts of the trail use or cross well-traveled roads. Machines should stay on right-hand shoulders on roadways. Always let someone know where you are going and what time to expect you back.

ATV AND TRAIL BIKE CHECKLIST:
-Throttle and brake controls work properly
-Fuel level
-Tire pressure
-Steering mobility
-Visual inspection for unsafe parts or damage.

Contributed by Four Corners Trail Club

Directions from Mancos, Colorado: Travel 0.5 mile north on Highway 184, then turn right on Forest Road 561 for 10.5 miles the to the main parking lot which is 0.6 mile east of the Transfer Campground at 9,000 feet elevation. Forest Road 350 goes east and Forest Road 560 goes north from Transfer Campground. Other access points include Jersey Jim, Lost Canyon, Spruce Mill Road, Haycamp Mesa, and Windy Gap.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Late Spring through Fall (NOTE: The Aspen Loop Trail is a multi-purpose trail constructed by San Juan NF and Four Corners Trail Club with funding from the Forest Service and the Colorado State Trails Program. The trail is open to ATV's, and motorized trailbikes.) .



Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Winter conditions. This is a multi-purpose trail, open to ATV's, motorized trailbikes, horseback, hikers, and Mountain bikes. The trailhead is .6 mile east of the Transfer Campground. Total trail length is 39 miles. Updated: 2004-04-23 13:59:00.0


Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Sam B. (Keller, TX)
Time of Day: 9 am - 3 pm
Length of Time: About 5 hours travel time.
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: This trail offers some really great scenery! It combines some moderately challenging narrow trails along with easy stretches of logging roads. This was our first ATV trip and we didn't have any significant problems. It's best to go with someone who has been before as we did, but I wouldn't be hesitant to try it alone the first time. The trail is very well marked and well used. Getting lost would require some effort, though we did have to backtrack a little to detour around a closed section. The 40 mile length of the trail makes it quite isolated, and we only saw about 20 people all day on a beautiful autumn weekend, and this included the 10 people in our group! Take a lunch, plenty of water, and your camera! And make sure to have plenty of gas—it would be a long walk out!
Conditions: It was fairly muddy because of recent rains. Watch out for fallen trees and narrow passages through the forest.
Water Availability: No treated water available. Several small steams near the trail, though.
Recommended Clothing: Waterproof boots, outer pants, and jackets, and sun glasses, are a must. It can get cold quickly and there is always the possibility of rain in the mountains. Headgear and earmuffs recommended as well. Goggles would be most helpful because of dust, especially in dry weather.
Suggested Accessories: Be prepared, especially if alone: flashlight, first aid kit, extra gas (especially if you have a small tank), etc. Don't bother taking the cell phone—no service!



Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Along the trail
Yes
ICON Hiking & Walking Aspen Loop Trail
Yes
ICON Horseback Riding Trail is marked
Yes
ICON Mountain Biking Trail is marked
Yes
ICON ATV Riding Motorized trail
Yes
ICON Motorcycle Riding Motorized trail
Yes



More Information

Visitor Information:

Mesa Verde Country Visitor Information, P.O. Box HH , Cortez, CO, 81321, Phone: 800-253-1616, Fax: 970-565-1155, lynnd@mesaverdecountry.com

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