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The Uncompahgre RiverWay Trail will eventually link Delta with Ouray, a 65-mile route along the Uncompahgre River in southwestern Colorado. Currently, two major segments have been completed in the communities of Montrose and Ridgway. Portions of the planned trail, including long stretches of the completed sections, use a former Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad line.
The northern section of the trail starts at Montrose's West Main Trailhead, just beyond the W. Main Street (State Route 90) bridge over the Uncompahgre River. The path heads south, crossing the river twice as it runs through Cerise Park, Baldridge Park and Ute Park. At S. Rio Grande Avenue, the trail joins the former rail corridor, just behind the Russell Stover chocolate factory.
The trail remains on-corridor for the rest of its route into the southern reaches of Montrose. After again crossing the river and paralleling it for about a mile—where an occasional eagle may be seen fishing—the trail leaves the riverbank to traverse the fields and ranchland of the Uncompahgre River valley. Eventually, the trail passes behind the Ute Indian Museum, worth a trip with its extensive collection of resources on the local tribe.
The trail surface changes from concrete to gravel shortly thereafter, continuing for another 2.8 miles adjacent to US 550's unpaved frontage road before ending abruptly at Trout Road. This part of the route provides spectacular vistas of the San Juan Mountains to the south, the Uncompahgre Plateau to the west, Grand Mesa to the north, and the Cimarron Ridge and rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to the east.
Although the trail is not complete south of Trout Road, the gravel frontage road continues to the tiny community of Colona, a distance of about 5 miles. The frontage road is suitable and safe for running, walking or mountain biking.
The Ridgway portion of the Uncompahgre RiverWay Trail begins in the north at Ridgway State Park's Dallas Creek area, but most users begin their trek downtown and travel north. The trail, which is paved throughout Ridgway, runs primarily on the same former Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad corridor as Montrose's segment and features a restored railroad trestle just north of town.
The trail links several of the town's amenities, including its Regional Athletic Park, Hartwell Park and Dennis Weaver Memorial Park. The latter offers 60 acres of permanent wildlife preserve, as well as a picnic area along the river and mountain biking and hiking trails.
North of the park, the route is open sagebrush with a stunning mountain backdrop, although US 550 is never far away. At the segment's northern end, Ridgway State Park's Dallas Creek area—located at the southern end of the Ridgway Reservoir—offers picnic areas and prime fishing spots. Two large campgrounds can be found just north of Dallas Creek for those planning a full outdoor adventure.
Please note that there are no signs specifically identifying the trail as the Uncompahgre RiverWay Trail. Look for the standard "bike route" signs present at all trail crossings.
In Montrose, parking is available at the West Main Trailhead on W. Main Street (SR 90). Additional parking can be found in Cerise Park on Shanes Way, Baldridge Park on Apollo Road and Ute Park off S. Rio Grande Avenue. Restrooms are also available in Baldridge Park.
Farther south, a small parking lot can be found where the trail crosses Chipeta Drive. For paying visitors, parking and restrooms are also available at the Ute Indian Museum, located even farther south along Chipeta Drive.
In Ridgway, park at Hartwell Park on Sherman Street (SR 62) or Ridgway Regional Athletic Park on County Road 23. There are also several large parking lots in Ridgway State Park's Dallas Creek area; access them via US 550 just north of town.
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