View Full Version : Exploring McInnis and Bangs Canyon

06-01-2017, 03:07 PM
Bangs Canyon Recreation Area, BLM: Tabeguache Trail
We ran a short portion of this trail for the BB4WA training and it highly interested me. Brie and I decided to return and complete the trail. Most of the information readily available online seems specifically tailored to mountain biking or bikepacking. The Tabeguache Trail in its entirety is a 140-ish mile / 225km route from Montrose to Grand Junction and we traveled a “Jeep Road” segment from the Bangs Canyon Trailhead (https://www.google.com/maps/place/Bangs+Canyon+Trailhead+(Micah+Mine)/@38.9887902,-108.6176859,528m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xe3c22c332cd7614f!8m2!3d38.9887569!4d-108.6171538) to CO141, about 1.25 miles from US50. Despite the holiday weekend, we passed only two or three dirtbikes and saw just two other trucks on the trail. Stopping a few times for views, snacks, and two or so more difficult obstacles, it took us a little over 6 hours to complete the 22mi of trail. I don’t doubt that it could be run significantly faster, but we are of the the slow and steady flavor plus we had a weekend of camping gear in the back.

The trail starts out smooth, presenting an Easier/Harder option. The harder route contains a number of ledges down to a designated slickrock “Play Area” maintained by several local 4x4 clubs. Beyond this, the trail alternated between flat slickrock, loose sand, coarse gravel, and jagged rocks. We both talked about how nice the trail changeups were. There was never too much of the same thing. Every time I thought about wanting to stretch, the trail threw us either a great viewpoint, a shady snack spot, or an obstacle that required some spotting. There were many great views of Grand Junction and canyons of the Uncompahgre Plateau.

Close to the end of the trail, we came upon a vague and poorly marked fork. Highway was visible at this point and we followed the left fork to meet up with a smaller dirt road before accessing the highway. I’m not entirely sure this was the designated portion of trail as both forks looked very unused though on further inspection most bike maps show the trail taking the right fork.

That night we camped in the McInnis Canyon BLM area close to the Kokopelli trail- just a half mile from Utah.

06-01-2017, 03:07 PM
McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area, BLM: Black Ridge Rd & Rattlesnake Arches
Exiting the middle of CO National Monument leads to a gravel road. Almost immediately after the pavement ends is a turnoff and trailhead (https://www.google.com/maps/@39.0552098,-108.7448962,132m/data=!3m1!1e3)for Black Ridge Road. It’s easy to miss so keep an eye out for a small gravel driveway with a parking and staging area. There were a few small BLM signs indicating the trailhead and its approved uses. Black Ridge Road can be divided into three segments. The start or approach as I suppose it could be called, the middle section which alternates upper and lower routes based on the season, and the end segment which terminates at the trailhead to Rattlesnake Arch. The approach and end segments were well used and a bit rougher while the upper road (open during the summer) offered mostly quick and smooth sandy tracks. The approach and end segments specifically did not allow camping and to my surprise the upper road segment had several designated campsites with markers. These campsites were not published on either my National Geographic map or the BLM’s PDF map of the area.
This was probably the most difficult “obstacle” on the trail though there were a number of steep ascents and descents that we took in low range. I’d feel good driving this road in almost anything with AWD. While the drive was enjoyable, this isn’t really a road or trail to be driven for the sake of the trail- the end goal is definitely the hiking trailhead at the end.
The out-and-back hike to Rattlesnake arch is just under 6mi/9.5km roundtrip. There’s little shade and it follows a rock formation that is a part of the plateau offering excellent views of Rattlesnake Canyon. While we didn’t see any of the area’s namesake critter, we did come across this guy who was pushing 3.5ft.
Rattlesnake Arch trail eventually led us to several great stone arches. Footpaths led us to just a few feet from the arches offering great perspectives and cool shade. Apart from an additional 5mi access hiking trail, Black Ridge Road and Rattlesnake Arch Trail was the only way to see this.

06-01-2017, 03:51 PM
Wow great pics! Thanks for the report, I've been wanting to get back in there as well.

06-01-2017, 03:53 PM
Awesome Ben! Thanks for sharing.

06-01-2017, 04:26 PM
Very nice report and pics. Good to see you guys are getting out there and exploring. What kind of snake was it?

Uncle Ben
06-01-2017, 04:37 PM
Very nice report and pics. Good to see you guys are getting out there and exploring. What kind of snake was it?

Looks like a bull snake. That would explain why no rattle snakes!

Great report!

06-01-2017, 04:38 PM
What kind of snake was it?
The best kind: the one that left us alone!
Not too sure- snakes aren't my forte.

06-01-2017, 06:04 PM
Nice!! Looks like a bull snake, but I'm no expert either. Definitely going to have to mosey over there shortly!

On the RX
06-02-2017, 10:59 PM
Amazing photos! Sounds like a great trip!

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