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North Nucla Loop

Distance:  42 miles
Elevation gain:  3500’
Estimated ride time:  6-7 hours
Difficult to Very Difficult

Begin the ride in Nucla at the town park where vehicles can be left for the day. Head east on tenth street as it leaves town. After ½ mile turn left (north) and climb on a paved county road. This is the Delta-Nulca Road and it remains paved for 5 miles as it climbs toward the Uncompahgre Plateau. At mile 6, the road crosses onto USFS lands on a well graded county road. Access to Pinto Mesa is on a road coming in from the left about 1.5 miles after the pavement ends. Continue up the Delta-Nucla Road for another 7 miles until coming to the Hauser Road and the Paradox Trail coming in from the right. The Paradox Trail continues on the Delta-Nucla Road for less than ¼ mile where it leaves the county road on the left and begins a gradual descent on an old jeep road. If you start dropping on the Delta-Nucla Road, you’ve missed the turn off. The dramatic Tabeguache Creek Canyon and Tabeguache Area is found immediately to the north of the trail. Follow the old jeep road as it descends the bench overlooking the canyon. Some wet and boggy areas exist at certain times of the years. This is also a prime calving area for elk in the early Spring.

At approx. 21 miles, the trail rounds a rocky point and drops, then climbs quickly to reach Pinto Mesa. The trail emerges on a soft graded road. Turn left and follow for ½ mile until coming to a T intersection. The trail goes right (west) while the Delta-Nucla Road can be accessed by turning left. Head west for 1 mile on the graded road until coming to the mesa rim. The trail drops down a rocky jeep road with broad views to the west. Follow the Paradox Trail signs as it switchbacks to the south and continues the descent into Coal Canyon. After crossing a steel boundary fence, you are now on BLM lands. Use extreme caution as the trail drops down a very rocky section and eventually finds its way down into and following the dry Coal Canyon drainage. Watch for an obvious trail leading out of the drainage on the right after a mile along the creek.

The old road eventually comes out close to private lands on the north end of Spratlin Park. The trail can be seen climbing a steep “hike a bike” section to the north, and it will then continue in a northwest direction as it climbs in and out of various drainages. The Tabeguache Area lies to the north. Follow the Paradox Trail signs as the trail becomes more rolling as it drops west until connecting with county road Z26 at approx. 32 miles.  Turn left on Z26 Road and cross Third Park, drop and climb out of Coal Canyon, an cross Second Park on paved county road. Continue bearing to the left at T intersections. Drop and cross Tuttle Draw and follow BB Road as it returns to Nucla.