At a reasonable pace, this trail should take no longer than two hours.
Spring, Summer, and Fall
Spring and fall accessibility depend on snowfall.
The Ramparts Loop is a secluded mountain biking and hiking trail in the high country of the La Plata mountains. The trail is named for the surrounding Ramparts Hills, an igneous outcropping just north of the town of Mancos, Colorado in San Juan National Forest. The loop is secluded and makes a fantastic getaway close to town.
What Makes It Great
The raw energy of the trail is what makes the Ramparts Loop so appealing. The trail is rough, with a plethora of roots and rocks along the way, but also serene and beautiful. It’s not like the smooth manicured single track you’ll find at Phil’s World or Boggy Draw, it’s raw and rugged. The difference between Ramparts and these other trails, is that you’ll likely be the only one there. The location is very secluded, located deep in the national forest at 9200 feet, and also fairly unknown. I’ve been several times and never seen another hiker or cyclist. This means you may very well have the place to yourself, and be able to enjoy the gorgeous views in splendid solitude.
The trail loops around the southern part of the Ramparts Hills, which itself is spectacular, and provides amazing views of the Mancos Valley. From various points on the trail there are wonderful vistas of Mesa Verde and Sleeping Ute, as well as an up close and personal view of the La Platas. From here the trail dips down through aspen forests and fields of wildflowers to a gap in the Rampart cliffs, and then begins its ascent back to the trail head. The ascent is steep but fun, winding its way through a Gambel Oak forest back to the top of the hill.
Who is Going to Love It
Anyone looking for something different in the area will enjoy this trail. If you are tired of the crowds at Phil’s World, then the Ramparts Loop will be a nice alternative. Those looking for some solitude, or even just an escape from the heat in the summer, will love this high alpine retreat. If you own a fat bike, even better. You’ll really appreciate those oversized tires as your bike floats over the roots and rocks with ease. There are certainly parts of the trail that would be difficult to scale without a well equipped bike. Those looking for something challenging, a trail that takes technical finesse and a strong endurance for uphill climbs will also enjoy the Ramparts Loop. It’s not very long, at only six miles it’s certainly not an all day excursion, but it makes a great morning or post work ride.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Mancos take 160 east towards Durango. About two miles east of town take a left onto road 44/Echo Basin road next to the Echo Basin resort sign. Follow this road until it changes to gravel road 566 at the national forest boundary. From here continue straight, following the winding road upward until the road forks after about 5 miles. Take a left at the fork onto FS road 331 and drive another 200 yards to the corral on the right. From here you should see the trailhead across the road on the left. This is a completely free trail and you can purchase a map of the trail, along with many other trails in the area from Big Loop Maps online or at select locations in Dolores and Cortez.