Note: This story first aired on Colorado Getaways in 2010. It was replayed during the May 14, 2011, show.
GUNNISON, Colo. (CBS4) – With all the Colorado outdoors have to offer, sometimes there is conflict between those who use trails across the state. That doesn’t hold true at Hartman Rocks.
The giant playground for outdoor enthusiasts located just outside Gunnison offers something for everyone. It beckons climbers, hikers and mountain bikers.
For climbers, the vast surface area is a reason alone for the visit.
“It’s got, like, a friction element to it where you sort of learn to climb without using those holds,” said climber Alec Solimeo. “We’ve got an 8,000 acre strip of accessible granite, very accessible.”
“Tiger Wall” is a popular route, one of more than 200 climbing routes at Hartman Rocks.
Mountain bikers love the singletrack.
“People often say, ‘Dave, where is your favorite trail?’ And I always give them the same answer. It’s Hartman Rocks. It’s probably one of the reasons I still live in Gunnison,” said mountain biker Dave Wiens.
He said all kinds of people share the trails.“I’m out here a lot, as much as anybody, and I’ve yet to have a trail conflict with someone. The motorcycles are courteous, the mountain bikers are courteous, the hikers. I think everybody understands the Hartman Rocks area is about multiple use,” said Wiens.
“There’s tons of riding, so like, you can go for miles. It goes way, way, way back there,” said dirt biker Lori Adair.
“Personally, I’m a runner, I’m a mountain biker, I’m a hiker, I’m a dirt biker,” said Fritz Kadlek.
Kadlek owns a shop in Gunnison. He’s been coming to Hartman Rocks for almost 30 years. He said there’s room for everyone.
“You can have a never-ridden 3-year-old child or an 80-year-old grandmother on her motorcycle cruising around. If you want to do it easy, you want to do it hard, it has everything,” said Kadlek.
Morrill Griffith also has a shop in Gunnison. He started riding at Hartman Rocks in 1969.
“There’s still literally thousands of acres accessible from Hartman Rocks,” said Griffith.
He said it is rare to have so many miles of trail so close to town.
“There’s a lot of people in parts of the country that would die for this. It’s like a dream,” said Griffith.
The parking lot is located about five miles outside of downtown Gunnison. It serves as a staging area for Hartman Rocks Recreation Area. Lots of people flock there on the weekends.
Luke Mehall, a climber, graduated from Western State College in Gunnison and now works there.
“It’s really close to Gunnison and Western State’s campus. If I just have a couple of hours after work it’s great for me to come and get my climbing fix,” said Mehall.
“Adjusting their bikes and tuning their motorcycles in the parking lot but once you get back into the spiderweb of trails, it’s quite spread out,” said biker Tim Egelhoff.
Joellen Fonken is with the Hartman Rocks Planning Group. She is one of the many users who also helps with the planning, building and maintenance of the trails.
“There’s singletrack trails, there’s roads, people can come up and do organized runs together. They can come hike. People come up here with their dogs quite a bit,” said Fonken. “In the winter, there’s great skiing on nordic trails, so it’s a year-round multiple use area.”
During the early season, about half of the 8,000 acres of Hartman Rocks are closed to protect the nesting grounds of the Gunnison Sage Grouse.
“There are a lot of folks that really love this place and really care for this place, so everybody’s pretty much on the same page as far as staying on the trail, rather than going off and making new routes. We’ve got a really good system of trails here and the community all pitches in to try to help us take care of it,” said Jim Lovelace, a Bureau of Land Management Park Ranger.
The BLM office in Gunnison oversees Hartman Rocks Recreation Area and the land surrounding it.
“Hartman Rocks has a broader area around it — 585,000 acres. Hartman Rocks is 8,300 acres, so it’s actually quite small compared to the landscape around it,” said BLM Recreation Planner Kristi Murphy.
With all that land, it’s no wonder people are not running into each other on the trails, roads and granite of Hartman Rocks.
There are several events planned over Memorial Day weekend, including the annual “Rage in the Sage” mountain bike race, the “Gunnison Growler” single track mountain bike race, the “Sage Burner” is a 25K and 50K running race through the rocks, and “Gunnison Glory” features 24 hours of climbing.
Get to Hartman Rocks by taking U.S. Hwy. 50 over Monarch Pass. Once you’re into Gunnison, look for the turnoff to Hartman Rocks just west of town.
– Visit Hartman Rocks online.
– Check out the Gunnison Field Office of the BLM.