In southwestern Colorado near Cortez, the Stoner Mesa Loop is a 26.7 mile route ranging in elevation from 7,500 feet to 9,900 feet. It combines paved roads, doubletrack and singletrack on the Stoner Mesa Trail.
To reach the Stoner Mesa trailhead from Dolores, drive east 12.2 miles on SR145 to the West Dolores Road (FS535/CR38), and proceed 3.3 miles to the Lower Stoner Trailhead on the right. Be sure to park on National Forest Land and avoid blocking access to Private land adjacent to the Trailhead parking. To avoid having to mountain bike ride on the West Dolores Road, you can leave a vehicle at the Lower Stoner TH and drive to the top of Stoner Mesa.
From the Lower Stoner Trailhead, proceed northeast about eight miles on the West Dolores Road and turn right (east) onto the Stoner Mesa Road (NFSR 686). From here the route gradually climbs 7.5 miles from a starting elevation of 8000 feet to near the top of Stoner Mesa (9900 feet elevation) and intersects the Stoner Mesa Trail. The trail is located near Twin Springs Reservoir and at a point in the road where it curves sharply back to the north. Proceed in a southwesterly direction on the trail that for the most part is downhill and passes through aspen and spruce forests and open meadows. In the larger meadows, the trail is harder to see, so watch closely for markers and blazes.
Near the southern end of the mesa, the trail will cross a fence line, then a large meadow with a reservoir. The trail back to the Lower Stoner Trailhead is just west of the reservoir and begins a steep descent of 1280 feet in a little over one mile and is technically difficult, so take your time.
There are not a lot of places for grub around Cortez, but you may want to check out both Lotsa Pasta Italian Restaurant and Pepperhead Mexican Restaurant.