End-of-Season Riding on the Butterknife Trail in Grand Junction

Not as well known as other trails in Grand Junction, Butterknife was a trail I definitely wanted to ride before the end of the 2012 season.  At 13.5 miles in length, 4 to 5 miles of that an end-of-the ride jeep road climb, Adelle, the boyfriend and I agreed fall would be the best time to check this one out.

Butterknife is a shared-use trail that begins about 5.5 miles up Little Park Road near Grand Junction.  If you’re heading toward the Tabeguache trails, as soon as you turn onto Monument Road you’ll turn left again onto D road.  Follow this as it turns into Rosevale Road and then when it seems the road is going to turn to dirt, turn right onto Little Park road.  You’ve probably been up this way if you’ve ridden The Ribbon or you’ve at least crossed the road if you’ve ridden Gunny Loop.

This section of the Twist-N-Shout trail leads to Butterknife.

After parking in a circular gravel lot on the right you’ll bike up the road briefly and turn left into the Third Flats staging area.  On your drive up, if you get to this large dirt area with a map and a “no parking” sign, you’ve missed the parking lot.  Just backtrack very briefly and you’ll see it.  From the Third Flats area, head about 1/10th of a mile down the jeep road and turn left at the sign seen here for Twist and Shout.

After such a dry fall, this portion of the trail was quite sandy and it was evident the dirt bikers had been out in full force.  Still, it was entertaining:

After a little less than 3 miles you’ll turn through a singletrack gate onto Butterknife.  What follows is 6 of the most technical miles of trail that I’ve ridden in this area.  There are other trails that have more technical drops or ledges, but Butterknife is consistent:  It’s one obstacle after another!  The good thing is it’s mostly downhill and even if you don’t ride everything, you can see that it is all rideable.

Not to be missed along the way are the views.  From this side of Grand Junction we found ourselves looking out at the Gunnison River instead of the Colorado.

Views from Butterknife, high above the Gunnison River

This trail is deceptive.  Every time you think you’ve reached a possible end and that surely it’s been 9 miles of riding by now, you cross another gully.  The trail is mostly downhill from its beginning through the 9-mile mark, but you’ll find yourself getting tired anyway.  After several moments of, “Did we miss a turn?” we reached the end of the technical downhill and found ourselves facing a long jeep road climb.

Beginning of the Butterknife jeep road climb

To be honest, it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be.  The beginning of the climb was the worst part…except for that moment when I lost traction on a loose gravel side hill and just fell over.  Still, this is not a climb I’d want to do in the middle of the summer.  Early spring and fall are definitely the best times for riding Butterknife.

Adelle making the long climb back to the Butterknife trailhead.

This was just when the days were shortening and the long shadows made it seem as though darkness would beat us back to the car.  Once there, though, we celebrated our awesome ride and a lack of crashes with beer and chocolate.

The next time you’re in Grand Junction and you’re looking for something different, Butterknife is the way to go.

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