Northwest of Durango and northeast of Delores, the Lower Calico Trail is a 13.5 mile route open to mountain bikers riders. The lower portion of the trail (#649) can be reached via the Priest Gulch Trailhead, (#645, see Priest Gulch Trail description for trailhead location). Originally designed as a stock drive into the high country, this trail was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. Beginning at the Priest Gulch Trailhead, the lower Calico Trail begins by crossing Priest Gulch Creek via a walking bridge and starts a fairly steep accent up a red-rock ridge via many switchbacks. It will be a steady climb for about 1.4 miles through a mixed ponderosa pine and aspen forest before leveling out.
Directions to trailhead: From Dolores on Highway 145, travel northeast 23 miles. The trailhead is clearly marked on the north side of the highway; the turn is next to a private driveway.
Note: Colorado residents must register their off-highway vehicle with the Colorado State Parks (303) 866-3437. Out-of-state residents who bring OHVs into Colorado must purchase a Colorado Non-Resident OHV permit which is valid from the date of purchase through the following March 31. These permits can be purchased anywhere you get your hunting/fishing licenses in All off-highway vehicles must have an approved muffler and spark arrester. These requirements are subject to change so make sure to contact the Colorado State Parks prior to using your off-highway vehicle.
Note: As of September 2007, ATV riding is permitted on all Forest Service roads as long as the road is not a County maintained road.
Note: As of September 2009, it has been rumored that ATV riding is no longer permitted on this trail.
Overall, Lower Calico Trail is the 12th most popular mountain bike trail of all 175 mountain biking rides in Colorado.