Get Out! In with the new
Trio of just-opened trails gives mountain bikers some different places to explore
New trails seem to be popping up all across western Colorado.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had time to test them out with a few friends.
It takes quite a bit of time, money, and lots of effort to create these trails and any new trail added to our trail systems should be valued.
Whether it’s an expert trail or a beginner one, each trail offers new opportunities for riders to enjoy mountain biking on the Western Slope. Thanks to our Grand Valley Canyons COPMOBA chapter and to the Ridgway Area Trails (RAT) chapter and the BLM for all of their hard work!
The first new trail we tested out was the Wrangler re-route.
Starting just before the last climb on “old” Wrangler, new Wrangler winds around the top of a mesa and provides riders (advanced beginner and up) with gorgeous views of the Grand Valley. The first switchback will get your attention, but rest assured that every feature on this trail is rideable. The switchbacks are armored and the rocky ledges are all ramped. This trail is much longer than the old version, but because of that it’s less steep. The end of “old” Wrangler gave riders a big downhill thrill with a steep, fast, loose trail; the new one provides a winding, longer ride with less speed.
Much more sustainable than the original, new Wrangler will certainly become a popular alternative for both climbing and descending from Mary’s Loop.
Next on the list was Hawkeye.
Hawkeye is COPMOBA’s most recent addition to the Kokopelli trails. Its trail head is located at the Mack parking lot. The other end of the trail is at the top of the Mack Ridge portage. You can drive to the Mack exit on Interstate 70 and turn left. The parking lot will be straight ahead.
Hawkeye can be ridden in either direction; so far I’ve only ridden it down. We started from the Hawkeye parking lot and rode east on the Frontage road to the saddle with Moore Fun and Mack Ridge. We chose to ride Lion’s Loop up and then rode Mack Ridge until we reached the top of the Hawkeye trail.
When my friend Adelle and I are testing out a new trail, we call it a “trail exploration” day. We take time to stop and look at each feature, and boy is Hawkeye full of those! Though I didn’t ride every single feature, it’s easy to see how to ride them. It’s also nice that most of the features have alternate routes; at times one of us might take one route while another tried out the other route. We took our time, took some photos and just enjoyed having a new adventurous trail to ride.
In my opinion, the best uses for Hawkeye are to either make a loop with Lion’s, like we did, or with Troy Built. For a very short ride, you can also combine Hawkeye with Mack Ridge. If this is the option you choose, I’d suggest riding up Hawkeye and down Mack Ridge.
The last new trail on our list was Karni Mata in Ridgway.
It’s part of their main trail system just off the Owl Creek Pass road and is at the far north end of the system. One of the reasons we love the RAT trails is because they’re fast and flowing — even the uphills are well-built with rideable switchbacks.
We start almost every ride with a climb up Rattus Maximus because it’s the easiest way up. To reach Karni Mata from here, we branched off onto Double Crosser. At the Double Crosser/Plagueground intersection, turn left onto Plagueground. You’ll reach a double track Jeep road and Karni Mata will start on the other side of this Jeep road. You can also ride from the park and access these trails via this Jeep road by going through a gate. A sign is there to guide you.
This lollipop is comprised of Karni Mata and Karni Mata Loop. Once you finish climbing the “stick” of the lollipop, a sign points right. The trail isn’t directional, but the RAT crew says this is the most fun way to ride it.
After climbing several more switchbacks, we finally reached the top and zoomed down the other side of the loop. There are several switchbacks here that will definitely get your attention! Though rideable, you might want to take a second look before you leap. Each switchback has a rocky or rooted feature right in the apex of the curve. It’s best to be alert and stop and take a look before you dive off the edge!
It’s been a fun summer of adventure riding. We’ve had a great time testing out new trails, riding old favorites, and finding ways to escape the heat. I hope you all have a chance to check out some of the great new riding opportunities this season. Get out and ride early!