The Enchanted Forest trail at Hartman Rocks in Gunnison beckons you further with magical evening light as the sun disappears behind the bluff. Do you dare to see what magical creatures lurk beyond the bend? Read my insider tips and favorite photo spots in the "Trail Info" tab below.
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Bad pun alert... Hartman's totally rocks!! Hartman's is such an incredible trail system -- I love the "choose your own adventure" network of short, punchy, rollercoaster-y trails that you can link up in endless permutations, as short or long as time, daylight or your legs permit. When you get to the further outposts away from the parking lot, you can frequently have the trail all to yourself. Another fantastic thing about Hartman's is that it is often ride-able into December and as early as late March/early April, and conversely, if it's a good snow year, you can cross-country ski or fatbike the snowy trails. Thanks to being in it's own little microclimate and boasting quick-drying gravel trails, it also offers up a super fun, dry alternative if it is rainy, (or has been rainy) in Crested Butte. Finally, there's something for everyone (including your 4-legged family members) here - mountain biking, hiking, trail running, dirt biking, rock climbing, shooting, 4X4 / ATV, rare bird species, awesome campsites, or just a peaceful place to set up your camp chair to soak up some desert sun or read a good book. I've nearly jumped out of my skin when a fully camo-ed guy popped out of the bushes with a paintball gun - but what a perfect place to play!
If it's rainy/muddy in Crested Butte, check the Western Colorado State University webcam to check the weather/cloud situation in Gunnison. To get away from the crowds or connect to the backside (Powerline) trails without going the distance, keep going on the dirt road past the main parking lot to the small lot at the Bambi's trailhead (right before the cattleguard, on the right). Be sure to download the CBG Trails App (Android), (Apple) and download "Colorado Trails" so they'll be available offline and track your location, before you go to better "choose your own adventure" - there are good trail maps posted sporadically, but it is easy to get lost in the maze of trails and dirt roads and the app has GPS so you know where you are at all times and can help you find alternate routes if the weather turns or your legs give out. Know and respect trail closures -- the area is habitat for one of North Americas's ten most endangered birds - the Gunnison Sage Grouse and the roads and trails south of the Powerline Road are closed from March 15-May 15 for their conservation. Consider yourself truly lucky if you spot one of these magnificent creatures (especially the males, which are a spectacle of impressive plumage and crazy neck pouches that inflate and make female attracting popping noises during mating season). My personal favorite trails are: Luge and Beck's downhills (60 seconds each of screamin' good fun), Dirty Sock (because where else can you get a picture of a trail sign with Dirty Sock on it?), Rocky Ridge, Enchanted Forest, Graceland, Sea of Sage, Outback, Behind the Rocks and Buddy Bear. If you're in the mood for a longer, scenic, remote ride, check out the Aberdeen Loop - a 17 mile trail where you're likely only to encounter a handful of bovines - again, be sure to have the trail app, as it is easy to get lost out there and the cows, while friendly, are not particularly helpful with route finding (speaking from experience here).
Lori's Favorite Photo Spots
1. Hartman's is home to a gaggle of Ents (a race of beings in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy world Middle-earth who closely resemble trees). If you keep your eyes peeled, you might just spot one...Several of my favorite trees reside on this trail system - this tree on Rocky Ridge probably ranks as my most photographed tree on my camera. There's just something about the gnarly trunk and cool shape against the sage-covered backdrop.
Here's an Ent that lives on the Outback trail...check out his big mouth and T-rex arms.
And then there's this Ent on Bambi's Trail, who's stuck in a permanent Lion's Breath yoga pose (tongue sticking out below his little Ent nose, just above the lower V of the branches). You have to hike off the trail a bit to capture this guy, but I think he's worth it.
And finally, this fella lives in Graceland with Elvis (the new-ish Graceland trail).
To answer your question, no, I don't do a lot of drugs, just the legal one in Colorado on rare occasions...
2. Behind the Rocks -the rocks themselves here are definitely picture worthy, but late afternoons/evenings, they turn into the best shadow walls! Check out my freakishly long legs...
3. Sea of Sage - this aptly named trail provides the unique opportunity for you to capture pictures with endless quantities of sagebrush, not to mention oodles of options for alliteration, which IMHO makes the world a better place. PS - You should totally follow my Instagram handle Pedals_and_Paws_Adventures, if you're into camping, biking, photogenic huskies and awesome photos with witty captions.
4. Top of the World - some day I'll have to get another pic, since I couldn't find one in my 17,000 photos (not even joking). As the name suggests, this trail has great views, and a place where you get to ride through a gigantic rock on top of a gigantic rock... pretty cool.
5. Top of Beck's Trail - there's a kick ass rock formation, along with snow-capped peaks in the background in the spring/fall.
6. Monkey Rock - one would not expect to spot a primate in the desert of Colorado, but one most certainly lives on Bambi's trail. Life is definitely more fun when you see animals in inanimate objects, just sayin'. Just be careful looking up at the rocks to try to hunt for this guy while riding, I don't want you to blame me for a nasty fall.