Ride these trails: Mesa County singletrack at its finest
Editors note: Mileage is approximate and descriptions are loosely interpreted from the experience of local riders. Ride at your own risk and remember to wear a helmet. Visit the Colorado Western Slope Conditions page on Facebook to learn up-to-date trail conditions. More information on trails can also be found at http://www.copmoba.org. Pick up The Free Press 2015 Cycling Guide at area bike shops or at 145 N. Fourth St., in downtown Grand Junction.
Easy: Three Sisters — 1-3 miles
Local’s Description: Wonderful warm up
These trails meander through the Three Sisters area of Lunch Loops. Singletrack swoops and slides through more than 3-4 miles of rocky terrain. It includes sections where beginners and even some intermediate riders may have to hop off, but it is still fun to ride. It is often used as a warm-up ride. Yes-N-DeeDee takes you up to the top of Curt’s Lane, which can be used to head back down to finish with Kid’s Meal or connect to the other trails like Miramonte.
Moderate: Miramonte Rim — 1.8 miles
Local’s Description: Techy & swoopy
If drops, swoopy singletrack, and exposure are your thing, then Lunch Loop’s Miramonte Rim is perfect for you. This looped trail is a great addition to your ride if you are playing around on Clunker and Bunker or coming down from High Noon or Holy Cross. This ride can be ridden clockwise or counter-clockwise, depending on what you like to do. If you ride it clockwise, you will have several drops ranging from three to seven inches and descend a bit. If you ride counter-clockwise, you will hit flowy single track and descend until you reach several technical climbs. Don’t forget to enjoy the views when at the north side of the trail.
Expert: Andy’s Trail — 3 miles
Local’s Description: Exciting exposure
This trail isn’t for the faint of heart. It is considered more difficult to very difficult due to its steep climbs, extreme exposure, and rocky terrain. It is best ridden after heading down Ribbon Trail or from the trailhead off Little Park Road.
If riding from Little Park Road, the trailhead starts less than a half-mile after a parking area 2.4 miles up the road.
Once you hit the trailhead, it will send you down to No Thoroughfare Canyon. Be sure to enjoy the views as the trail traverses through multi-colored rock and soil before heading up one of two tough climbs. The first climb is a bench cut along the side of a gully. It pops you out on top, exposing you to a technical descent. The second hill is a grunt that comes up fast, connecting riders to Eagle’s Tail. Finish on Tabaguache Trail or connect to other trails like Pet-E-Kes.
NORTH FRUITA DESERT (18 ROAD)
Easy: Western Zippity — 4.5 miles
Local’s Description: Face-melting fast
Most people recommend this trail as a way to hop up to Zippity-Do-Da, but it’s a fun ride in itself. Western Zippity is fast, flowy, and it’s sure to leave a smile on your face. If you take Frontside to Western Zippity from the top, it brings you to the west side of Zippity-Do-Da, which seems like “no man’s land” due to its peaceful solitude and proximity to the Bookcliffs.
Moderate: Joe’s Ridge — 2 miles
Local’s Description: Roller-coaster fun
Ledges are the biggest challenge on this trail. Joe’s Ridge is caught by riding up either the road or Prime Cut and heading west. It leads to a small climb, which is where the fun begins. Experienced riders are known for letting go of the brakes in this section to enjoy the trail’s natural flow. Be cautious as you ride and gain speed — a wrong twist in the handlebars could send you flying. It may be difficult, but stop and take a look around.
Joe’s Ridge leads into MoJoe, a recent addition to help connect down to the trailhead.
Expert: Chutes & Ladders Loop — 7 miles
Local’s Description: Chunky, then fast
If you want 7 miles of pure fun, this is the trail for you! After climbing up Prime Cut, you’ll see a steep, intimidating hill with a trail attached to it. That’s the start of Chutes & Ladders. The trail is considered expert for its tricky climbs, technical mini-sections, and short up-hill jaunts. It eventually turns into fantastic downhill — sweet, smooth, swoopy riding for nearly three miles. Once you wipe the gigantic grin off your face, you’ll take a short trip across the desert and land back at the trail head.
KOKOPELLI TRAILS AREA
Easy: Wrangler Loop — 2.3 miles
Local’s Description: Fun alternative
If you are tackling the climb up Mary’s Loop, then head onto Wrangler Cut Off. Wrangler Loop veers right and heads up a slight hill with loose rock. At the top catch your breath, take in the view and get ready for a fun, short descent. After a small jaunt up another hill, the trail brings you to another fun descent. It eventually continues down with swoopy, sandy goodness and you end up farther west on Mary’s Loop. You could turn left to head back down Mary’s for a 5-mile loop. (The short loop is fun if you want to do a little more than Rustler’s Loop, but don’t want to do all of Mary’s Loop.)
Moderate: Steve’s Loop — 2.3 miles
Local’s Description: Gorgeous scenery
Steve’s Loop can be ridden in either direction, and it’s good either way.
Starting on the southern end, you’ll descend a couple steps (some riders will choose to walk them), then you’ll cruise down a nice, smooth, rolling trail to a bench. Enjoy an easy stretch of trail for the next few miles, including wonderful desert features like slot canyons, sandstone walls, and shelf rock.
The third canyon (which is the narrowest slot canyon) offers a short section with broken rockfall that will cause you to carry your bike. After that, it’s smooth riding on the way back to Mary’s Loop. One last steep, uphill stretch will cause most riders to hop off and push.
Expert: Mack Ridge — 3.8 miles
Local’s Description: Delicious chunkiness
Mack Ridge is great in either direction. There is one rather gnarly, hike-a-bike section on the eastern half of the trail that must be walked regardless of direction (although, legend has it, this has been descended before).
The intersection with Lion’s Loop and Troy Built begins a technical climb through a number of switchbacks, rocky passes, and hike-a-bike sections to the rim.
At a T-intersection with a doubletrack, turn right. This is the original Mack Ridge trail. To the left, the trail descends as the Mack Ridge Connector to Lion’s Loop. Ride east along the ridge on the doubletrack for a quarter-mile to a short, technical, singletrack descent.
The singletrack climbs back and continues for three-quarters of a mile along the rim to a particularly breathtaking viewpoint. Continue to ride through a left switchback, a right switchback and an abrupt technical section terminating in a hike-a-bike pass.
At this point, Mack Ridge offers a little more than a mile of technical downhill. It’s all ridable, although not without challenge. Mack Ridge ends in a saddle at the western ends of Mary’s Loop and Moore Fun.
Turkey Flats — 9 miles
Local’s Description: Deliciously cool
Be sure to head up to cooler elevations and ride Turkey Flats near Glade Park during Mesa County’s hot summer months. Settled high above the Colorado National Monument, this trail has many outlets to shorten or extend the ride. Be sure to pay attention to weather as rain tends to drench the trails and create mud bogs. Stay off the trail if it’s muddy. Visit the Colorado Western Slope Trail Conditions page on Facebook for updates.
Zion Curtain — 18 miles
Local’s Description: Grand-vista views
To get there: From the Rabbit Valley exit, drive north to a small parking lot and turn left, where you’ll climb through a switchback. Top out and drive to a three-way intersection. Go left, drive a mile, and park at the stateline. The road beyond this point becomes less passable, and there are limited parking opportunities.
The trail: Ride west 1 1/2 miles to a drainage underpass below Interstate 70. Ride towards a sign board and climb the road to the right.
Note: Zion Curtain is not the singletrack that begins just across I-70. The singletrack begins about a half-mile up the doubletrack at a marker on the left.
Zion Curtain winds in and out of multiple drainages along the course of the climb, eventually reaching a wire fence (the namesake curtain between Colorado and Utah). The trail follows the fence to the rim overlooking Rabbit Valley. Two miles after reaching the rim, Zion Curtain forks with Zion Curtain Alternate Descent. These two trails converge after a mile.
Zion Curtain singletrack ends at a three-way road junction with the Kokopelli Trail (the southern and western legs) and a road to the north. Go north on the dirt road. After 2.75 miles, pass the beginning of the Zion Curtain singletrack and continue downhill and across I-70. Ride the dirt frontage road back to the car.
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