We were off for five days in the San Juan Mountains but on the way we had plans for three trails just south of the Blue Mesa Reservoir between Gunnison and Montrose. We started with the Blue Mesa Cutoff. It was the shortest one and the easiest one, but the scenery provided a great start to our trip.
The trailhead was easy to find, with a big sign for the cutoff. It was in a residential area right next to the reservoir. We weren't sure if airing down would be necessary, so we started without any initial stops. There really wasn't anywhere to stop, anyway.
All of the last was private. We decided that it was bumpy enough to warrant airing down after all, but we couldn't find a place to stop. We finally circled around a small hill and stopped in a wide spot. We aired down quickly and then kept going.
The weather was phenomenal, with blue skies and warm temperatures. We had a small amount of rain at the reservoir, but there was no sign of it here.
The first half was across the mesa, with wide open spaces. There weren't many trees. It was beautiful, and you could see for miles.
The second half marked a descent down mellow switchbacks. This was supposed to be an old railroad grade but it felt a bit too steep, and the switchbacks seemed a bit too tight. Maybe this section had been changed since then.
At the bottom, we crossed the Gunnison River on a bridge. The Red Bridge Campground was there, a nice campground next to the river. We stopped to use the pit toilet and check out the views. We actually stayed for quite awhile. It was very relaxing.
However, it wasn't long before we headed out again and found ourselves at Highway 149. We were going to loop back up to Highway 50 on Alpine Plateau, so we turned right. The end of the next trail was very close, with no need to air up. Even the highway section was beautiful. This was an easy trip, but very enjoyable.