SIDEWINDER: A challenging new single-track trail takes shape in Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area
In 2009 and 2010, the BLM partnered with Bicycle Colorado, Singletrack Trails, Inc., local trail user groups, and the Western Colorado Conservation Corps to design and build the Sidewinder Trail. The project was funded with stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Construction was completed in the fall of 2010. The construction phase employed 40 youths from Colorado’s West Slope over a ten-week period.
Snaking in and out of canyons as it contours the western flank of the Gunnison Gorge NCA, Sidewinder is aptly named. All single-track users including hikers, equestrians, motorcyclists, and mountain bikers are welcome on this rocky, sinuous trail.
Running 20 miles one way through pinyon-juniper forest and semi-desert shrub, this is one of the longest trails in the Gunnison Gorge. By linking to other routes, trail enthusiasts can enjoy sections of Sidewinder without committing to its entire length. Depending on which routes are linked, a number of loop options of various lengths are possible.
Most trail sections are considered moderate in difficulty for hiking and equestrian use (with just a few hundred feet of elevation change). For those on two wheels--whether on a mountain bike or motorcycle--Sidewinder is a challenging expert-level trail with a number of technical sections. “Unrelenting” is a common description.
One recent trail rider had this to say about Sidewinder:
This trail doesn't let up...not even a little. The rocks are everywhere, and seem to be getting bigger as the day has gone on. Don't let this freak you out. The trail is really fun and challenging. It's just constant--you don't get a break unless you stop and take a breather.