Fall in love

Autumn is the perfect time to explore area mountain bike trails

A rider navigates Mary’s Loop in the Kokopelli Trail area in McGinnis National Conservation Area, a popular mountain bike trail. Autumn is the perfect time to get out on area trails, even experimenting with out-and-back rides on trails to give you a different perspective.

Wrangler, a trail in the Kokopelli Trail system in McGinnis National Conservation Area, is a good trail when you’re not in the mood for a technical ride.

We’ve been traveling and adventuring fools this bike season, but we’ve still managed to find time for plenty of riding here at home.

We’ve been sticking to a routine of favorite trails when riding in Grand Junction, Fruita, and Loma, and since it seems months sine I’ve written about specific rides around here, I wanted to share some with you.

At 18 Road we have a standard route for rides: We ride up Prime Cut, down PBR, back up Prime Cut, over to Joe’s Ridge, and after riding Joe’s, we ride back up through the campground so that we can finish by riding all of Kessel Run. Yes, we do this same ride all summer long and yes, we know there are other fun trails at 18 Road.

However, this extended figure 8 is our favorite because it’s just so entertaining!

We get a great workout on the climbs and then we get to have a blast on PBR’s jumps, Joe’s steep hills, and Kessel’s awesome berms. What could be better? (Update: Actually, a few weekends ago we did our alternate ride on Vegetarian and the Edge Cut Off before climbing up Prime Cut, and that was fun too!) Loma, one of my favorite places to ride, has trails for every mood: days when I’m feeling not so technical, days when I want to push myself, and days when I just want to go ride a favorite trail.

Once, earlier in the summer, we planned to ride Lion’s and Mack, but when we got to the top of the ridge after the last climb, we saw large plumes of smoke right where the downhill portions of Mack were.

At the time, we thought there was a fire (there wasn’t; we still have no idea where the smoke came from). So we ended up doing a Lion’s out-and-back. Riding a trail the opposite direction from which you normally travel it, is a great brain workout.

It was entertaining to back track and find myself thinking “how did we ride up this?” or, “Oh! We’re already at the end?”

I was slightly disoriented the whole way back because everything seemed brand new. Still, I think turning Lion’s into an out-and-back ride more often could be fun.

Our other favorite set of loops to ride, especially if we’re feeling not-so-technical, are Wrangler and Rustler. We ride up Mary’s, out to the last Wrangler entrance, back to the bottom of Wrangler, and then ride Rustler’s. It’s close to 9 miles total and is just a great, fun ride.

Of course we still like to take a spin on Mary’s Loop on less-crowded days. It’s scenic, not too hard, and a good length for a short ride.

Finally, at Lunch Loop, my favorite trail this year has to be Nor’easter.

I get about 45 minutes of riding time on my lunch breaks, and I really enjoy being able to get a good climb in on Nor’easter. It gives me easy access to the Three Sisters trails, Time Machine, and the Curt’s switchbacks.

It’s almost never crowded and the steady climb is a nice warm-up.

Sometimes I’ll just ride Nor’easter and Time Machine and then turn around and ride back on the same two trails. Both are fun in either direction and, with only about 45 minutes to ride, these two give me a quick workout with a fun finish.

We’re lucky to have so many great trails across our valley and on Grand Mesa. From Mesa Top, West Bench, and Powderhorn’s trails to Palisade, GJ, Loma, Fruita, and Rabbit Valley, there’s a plethora of options for riders of all abilities.

With the efforts of our local BLM workers and our volunteers, we’re looking forward to new trails soon, too!

Enjoy these last few months of biking. Fall is one of my favorite times to GET OUT!


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