Driving up to Taylor Park you’ll be stunned by the sudden view of the broad, flat expanse as you crest the hill above the Taylor River Dam. This open area, flanked on all sides by some of Colorado’s most beautiful mountains is home to some of the Gunnison Valley’s chunkiest trails.
Much of the Taylor Park trail system is open for motorized use, so expect to share the trail primarily with dirt bikers. In fact, aside from Dr. Park, you may not see another mountain biker or hiker in this area at all. Depending on your chosen route, you may not even see a dirt biker so come prepared for a day in the woods and any challenges it may bring.
Doctor Park Bonus (#424.1A)/ Dr. Park (#424) (Mileage: 21 miles Elevation Gain: 2500’)
This is classic Gunnison Valley mountain biking in every sense of the word, and may be one of the best trails in the country. It’s certainly a favorite of almost every local and most of the staff at MTB Home. It’s hard to explain why until you’ve ridden it yourself, but much of it has to do with the changing environment, long downhill, and ease of access.
Dr. Park trail is closed to all use in the spring for bighorn sheep migration. The trail officially opens on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend every year, although it may not be entirely free of snow until June. The exit of Dr. Park is in the North Bank Campground and it’s easy to haul tail through here when you’re all stoked on what you just did. Please slow down through the campground to avoid any conflicts with the host or campers.
Most people start this trail by parking in one of the lots just before the turn to North Bank Campground. Ride south on Taylor River Rd. towards Harmel’s Ranch and turn right on Spring Creek Rd. (FSR 744). Follow the road up for 11 miles until you exit the canyon and enter a meadow. Take the first right onto Dr. Gulch Rd (FSR 554), cross the stream, and start the tough portion of the climb. A short ways up the road splits, take the right turn again. At about 3 miles the road ends at a small parking area/dispersed campsite. If you’re feeling burnt or want to avoid weather you can go straight on Dr. Park Trail (#424) down to the river.
If you want to maximize your views and singletrack take Dr. Park Trail (#424) up to the left and over the ridge .3 miles. Turn right on Dr. Park Bonus (#424.1A) for an added two miles of above treeline riding. After cresting the hill and intersecting with Dr. Park Trail the full downhill begins with 4 distinct sections.
The first section is fast and flowy through the meadow ahead of you for about .5 miles. As you enter the woods the second section is a chunky bit of steep technical rocks.
Cross the creek and enter the creme-de-la-creme third section. This gratifyingly long and flowy section through the aspens is known locally as Jedi Trees. The final section is another technical portion through the granite basement rock of the Taylor River Canyon. This tech has a decidedly slickrock feel compared to the loose chunk of the upper section.
Forest Hill Rd. (FSR 760), Lily Pond Trail (#534), Star Lily Trail (#623), Star Trail (#411), Rocky Brook Rd. (FSR 748) (Mileage: ~18 miles Elevation Gain: 2700’)
This is not the bang-it-up enduro ride that you’ll find in many places in the valley. Star/Lily Pond, as many people call it, is more like Deer Creek or The Dyke Trail, but with more singletrack. In all honesty you can probably ride this loop in either direction. If you’ve done both, let us know in the comments which one you feel is better.
Getting to the trailhead is also a toss-up on the fastest route. Some people like Spring Creek Rd. (FSR 740) to Rocky Brook Rd. (FSR 748). This route has more gravel, but shorter mileage. If you come this way park at the exit of Star Trail (#411). Coming up through Taylor Canyon, through Taylor Park, and up Rocky Brook Rd. is less dusty, but still has a good bit of gravel driving. Park at the intersection of Rocky Brook Rd. and Forest Hill Rd (FSR 760) if you go this way. Both routes are 2wd friendly.
From Forest Hill Rd. (FSR 760) ride uphill for a couple miles minding the spur roads that branch off occasionally. Having a map app on your phone is handy for this portion. After riding through the old mine and cabins you’ll exit out onto a flat meadow with the Lily Pond.
Hop on the Lily Pond Trail (#534) singletrack and follow it for a bit until you hop on Star Lily Trail (#623). This section of trail alternates between dense forests and open meadows before steadily climbing a drainage until you intersect Star Trail (#411) in the shadow of American Flag Mountain.
Star Trail climbs and descends three short, punchy sections before it’s final 2 mile descent to Rocky Brook Rd.
Overall the general feel of this trail is a bit all over the place. Meadow sections are flowy and smooth, except when they’re not. The opposite is true for the forested sections. Since this is a motorized section of singletrack expect to find some trail braiding and varied line options, along with ruts and a bit of mud.
This is another area where overnights and bikepacking can save a lot of logistical hassle. Since many of the trails in this area are straight lines, and making loops is logistically not feasible, shuttling vehicles is a good option for tackling lots of mileage in Taylor Park. Honestly we won’t judge you because 40+ mile days on motorized singletrack and 4×4 roads is just f*@#ing awful.
To get more miles out of Dr. Park consider riding the whole thing or a large portion. Using the Matchless Trail (#413) as the access cuts the whole of Dr. Park Trail (#424) in half more or less.