[July 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage] By Deb Barr
LOVE TO EXPLORE amazing topography and beautiful landscapes? Seeking solitude? The West End Trail Alliance, or WETA, is a great resource for bikers, e-bikers, hikers, runners, birdwatchers, rockhounds, and other explorers of the expansive environs of the West End, which includes portions of San Miguel, Montrose, and Mesa Counties.
Conceived in 2015 by Nucla and Norwood biking enthusiasts concerned about the local economy after Tri-State’s closure of its coal-fired power plant, WETA advocates for expanding non-motorized recreational uses. Its intrepid volunteers have built miles of trails and have mapped and rated 49 routes to date.
WETA’s mapped trails cover a lot of public land. With the town of Nucla as a nucleus, pick a direction. The area covered by WETA’s trail maps is big, really big. Clockwise, it spans from Gateway on the north/northwest to Divide Road on the Uncompahgre Plateau, south to Lone Cone and continues back west to the Paradox Valley and the Colorado/Utah state line. Pick your expertise level and your season; trails range from beginner to expert, and weather conditions vary.
For more info, visit WETA’s Facebook page or their website (www.westendtrails.org), a gold mine for those who love maps and chairside exploring, even as the real thing invites you to fill up your water bottle and head out. Important for anyone checking out new territory, WETA’s trail maps include GPS coordinates, trail descriptions, and access information, and are downloadable from the website. Regionally, paper maps can be purchased in bookstores, visitor centers, and retail shops, such as the Bedrock Store.
Founder of the Paradox Trail and WETA Board Member, Paul Koski encourages supporters of non-motorized recreation to support WETA’s efforts by becoming a member and/or donating. It’s only $5 to join and tax-deductible donations can be made online.