Moderate to Strenuous
43.96 miles/4946ft elevation
Looking for a grinder of a gravel ride with close to 5,000 vertical feet? You won’t have to travel very far because the Junction Creek Out and Back fits the bill. The whole ride is 84% gravel and 16% pavement.
You can access this Durango Gravel Ride by traveling west up 25th street from Main Ave and following County Rd (CR) 204 to the end of the pavement at the southern terminus of the Colorado Trail (CT). This road is not maintained in Winter and it can be early June before riders can access Animas Overlook and in heavy snow years, late June for the ride all the way to Champion’s Venture Rd and the Colorado Trail. There are no services on this route so be sure to carry plenty of fuel and fluids. Depending on the time of year you may encounter some wash boarding on the road from the traffic use as sections of this road can be heavily traveled, mostly to the Animas Overlook. The road meanders through the Spruce, Pine, Oak and Aspen forest up the predominant ridge. After 7 or so miles of being on the gravel road a good rest stop is at Animas Overlook to take in breathtaking views of the beautiful Animas Valley, 2500ft below. Be sure to enjoy to picturesque views of the La Plata Mountains to the west and the sweeping vistias to the south. The Junction Creek drainage is to the left, with the Colorado Trail dropping into and climbing out on the opposing ridge. Stick to the main road or you will end up on some dead ends. After 21 miles in the saddle look for signs for the CT and keep left on Champion’s Venture Rd for the final 1-mile pedal to the CT. This is just half the ride and after turning around and some short rolling climbs the road drops all the way back to Durango. Be mindful of the road conditions and possible uphill traffic, especially as you near the bottom. Always obey the rules of the road, wear your helmet and be able to hear what is going on around you. This is a bucket list ride as the views and geography are simply stunning.