Happy trails

Two mountain bike riders come off a turn on one of the trails at Lunch Loop, one of the most popular series of mountain bike trails in the Grand Valley. From Lunch Loop to the trails off 18 Road north of Fruita, to Grand Mesa and through Rabbit Valley, the trails in western Colorado are as varied as the riders who enjoy exploring them.

Every rider wants to know where to ride, whether it’s a mountain biker visiting the Grand Valley or someone new to the area, or a local who hasn’t ventured all over to find great trails.

When compiling a short “favorite trails” list, The Daily Sentinel thought who better to ask than a few avid fat tire dirt lovers?

Here’s what four mountain bikers who happen to work in local bike shops had to say when asked “What are your favorite trails and why?”

From the sandy tails of 18 Road north of Fruita to the popular Kokopelli trails near Loma to the technical, fun excursions of the Lunch Loop area and more, here’s the list.

Ryan Cranston

Owner, Ruby Canyon Cycles

Years mountain biking: More than 20

Your ride: 2014 Specialized S-Works Enduro 29er.

■ Holy Cross (Lunch Loop): This is my go-to trail for a quick ride. It is masterfully laid out for a technical trail experience that’s second to none in the valley.

■ Ribbon Up, then Down (Lunch Loop): Most shuttle the Ribbon, but I have grown to enjoy riding up it and then back down. It’s a beautiful, unique landscape and you can’t appreciate it fully if you just scream down. The sense of satisfaction after climbing to the top makes it worthwhile.

■ Flowing Park/Indian Point/Spring Camp (Grand Mesa): One of my favorite rides anywhere, this 15-mile point-to-point trail takes you across the flat, open, 10,000-foot high Flowing Park fork of Grand Mesa, and then dumps the rider almost 5,000 vertical feet to the Kannah Creek trail head. It’s wild, remote, not maintained, hard to follow, rough and requires GPS navigation to make it to the bottom. For these reasons I love this trail, it’s true mountain biking! Not for beginners!

■ Turkey Flats (Glade Park): Alpine riding close to home, Turkey Flats affords the local mountain biker a quick escape from the heat of the desert in the summer. By linking different trails, you can put together a 16-mile loop. Deer, elk and bears are often seen up here, adding to the fun factor!

■ Corral Forks/Big Creek Scout/Little Creek (Uncompahgre Plateau): This trail system up Divide Road on the Uncompahgre is Turkey Flat’s lesser-known twin. Its narrow mountain singletracks are linked with Jeep roads.

Landon Monholland

Manager, Over the Edge Sports

Years mountain biking: 15

Your ride: 2014 Trek Remedy 27.5” wheel

■ Up Prime Cut and Down Kessel Run (Bookcliffs/18 Road): Best beginner trail. If you don’t have fun riding this trail, then you should check your pulse to see if you are still alive!

■ Horse Thief Bench Trail (Kokopelli Trail System off Mary’s Loop): Best single ride. If you only ride one trail, this should be it.

■ Holy Cross (Lunch Loop): Best technical trail. This trail engages your brain. If your brain is not engaged you will find yourself on the ground.

■ Up Prime Cut, Down PBR (Bookcliffs/18 Road): Best short ride. Try not to giggle like a kid on this one, I dare ya!

■ Linking Zion Curtain to Western Rim via the Kokopelli Trail (Rabbit Valley): Best long ride. This ride is the quintessential mountain bike ride. Its got everything. Smooth and flowy, rocky and technical, amazing views, big climbs, big descents and enough distance to scare off the posers.


Adam Sczech

LTR Sports

Years mountain biking: 14 years

Your ride: Giant Anthem 27.5

■ Edge Loop (North Fruita Desert/ 18 Road): The lookout at the top of Bookcliffs is my favorite view of the valley.

■ Miramonta Rim (Lunch Loop): First trail I ever rode when I moved to Grand Junction, it’s a nice and easy trail.

■ Vegetarian (18 Road): Fast and flowy, super fun for a Roadie like me.

■ Gunny (Lunch Loops): Just fun, that’s all that needs to be said.


Keith Kitchen

Service Manager, The Bike Shop

Years mountain biking: Since mid-1980s

Your rides: Cannondale Trigger 1 29er, Niner M.C.R. 29er and Diamondback XTS Moto

■ Pet-E-Keys to High Noon to Tabaguche to Holy Cross to Ali-Alley to Kurt’s Lane (Lunch Loop): This is an awesome loop; the cool part is most riders can clear every obstacle, but usually not all on the same ride. The loop is both challenging and fun, and worth the time.

■ Palisade Rim Trail: One of the newer trails in the valley and one of the best. Start off with a tough climb, but remember you will bomb back down later. The lower loop I like to go counter-clockwise. When you reach the spur for the upper loop, look left and check out some sweet pictographs. The upper loop, I like to go clockwise, and then return to the lower loop and complete counter-clockwise. Then it is a sweet descent back out.

■ 18 Road trails: From the lower trail head, go up Prime Cut, Turn left on to Frontside, then left again on Zippity Do Da. This loop is full of fast, swoopy singletrack and a bit of exposure. The views are outstanding and will remind you of a roller coaster ride.

■ Horse Thief Bench: (Kokopelli Trails); This is one of the finest singletrack trails in Colorado. It is a Blue level trail, with just enough Black Diamond sections thrown in to make it a blast. Just remember when you get to the drop-in, get off and check it out first. The top two thirds is Black Diamond rated, whereas the bottom third is a hike-a-bike for most riders.

■ Beginner Trails: If you’re not sure you’re ready for the above trails here are a few to test yourself on. Most are Green level, with Blue and Black obstacles thrown in, also a bypass route if needed at Lunch Loops, Kid’s Meal and Three Sisters Trails. At Kokopelli Trails — Rustlers Loop and Wranglers Loop are great for beginners as well. At 18 Road, the famous Kessel Run.


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