Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hartman Rocks Trail Run

Looking for a trail run near our campground in Gunnison, I noticed that I would be able to run some roads just to the south and pickup what looked like a trail system. As I researched this further I realized this was a very organized trail system called Hartman Rocks Recreation Area. This seemed to be the gold mine I was looking for. As I got going this morning I did one final look at things and realized a quick drive down the Airport road from the Gunnison KOA where we stayed would be put me at the main base area trailhead. So I drove on over.

The maps have so many trails on them that they are truly overwhelming at first. There are biker/hiker only trails, there are drivable dirt roads, and there are ATV and dirt bike roads. Most of the roads are also marked for XC skiing in winter. I didn't have a specific route planned at first and decided to see what presented itself at the trailhead. The first clear sign is for Jack's Trail and so I started on it. It was a beautiful Colorado morning with temps in mid 50's and mostly clear skies. I wore a red short-sleeve running shirt and my zip-off shorts (no leggings of course). I didn't have my regular trail-runners packed here on vacation but I had sorta planned to use my black everyday ASICS shoes which are technically trail-runners. Even with their worn tread they did the job well today. There were about 5 cars in the lot at start. I made my way up Jack's Trail which was fairly consistently uphill and wound back and forth a bit while mostly heading to the west. I saw another mountain biker out ahead who was probably on a different trail. A half mile in a woman and I passed each other sharing morning pleasantries. I was working with a fairly light 12-min mile pace as my lungs were still getting going in the mountain air. I was impressed at the quality of the trail and the ease of which I could follow it. There were a few small intersections along the way and a "Jack's Trail" sign to help direct. The trail continued to twist back and forth and gain its way uphill. Most of the way up this initial hill I passed a boulder pile that I stopped my run for to go and climb the rocks and have a bit of fun. Later this afternoon I would bring my boys back here for them to have the same fun. I finally hit the Kill Hill Road where Jack's Trail essentially ends. Not knowing exactly what was next I followed an obvious dirt road to the northeast up a hill where it ended on the hilltop with some nice views. I followed that dirt road back down and then headed up Kill Hill Road just a bit to where I found what appeared to be a parking lot and camp area on the right. I was using BackCountry Navigator whose Open Cycle Map had these trails on it. I could see that the Tailpipe trail broke away from this parking area and so I moved onward to it. This trail moved downhill a bit as it wound back and forth. I still can't emphasize enough the wonder trail quality that was present. The Tailpipe trail wound around the edge of the hill and then crossed a dirt road and leveled out. At another dirt road crossing the trail then became The Ridge trail and headed uphill, not surprisingly to a ridge. The views in here were very nice and I could see out to the Gunnison KOA campground and beyond. Along the ridge I caught up with a gentleman on mountain bike who had stopped. He and I had a nice chat. He mentioned he was camping in the area and loving it. The Ridge trail heads northwest until it finally begins a downward swing. Through several twists and turns and even some rock slab crossings it meanders down toa dirt road. I followed the road a bitwhere it would take me back to the Tailpipe trail. About 2/10 of a mile along the road it intersected another dirt road which headed back up to the ridge. It had a very steep grade which I ended up walking. Back on the ridge I backtracked it to Tailpipe and then that back to the camp/parking area. For the descent back to the base area I followed the Collar Bone trail which is a downhill only track. It had some very steep areas and I could see why it was uphill only. If one encountered any oncoming traffic in some of these parts it could be disastrous. It was probably rated black diamond for biking. Even as a trail-running some of the steep sections were long enough that you couldn't hardly control your speed and it extended uncomfortably long where you just prayed you didn't stumble or trip before you could get to the bottom. The Collar Bone trail eventually leveled out and then worked its way back to the base area. All in all I got in 4.3 miles and loved it. One of the best trail runs I've been on in Colorado (thought that honestly hasn't been many yet). I found myself thinking how jealous I was of the locals who have such a wonderful playground in their backyard.

On the Ridge Trail

Views from the Ridge

Views from the Ridge

Occasional rock slab obstacle on the run

And some running between large boulders

The bottom of Collarbone Alley, really steep!

Here is a KML I made of today's trail run for anyone to share and make use of (at your own risk of course).

My Tracks 

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