Valley served by three main trail systems
By Dennis Jones
Riding in the Grand Valley is, in a word: awesome. The terrain, scenery, and trails are unlike anywhere else and make this a popular destination for mountain bikers from all over the world.
The bulk of the riding is concentrated in three primary areas: 18 road, Kokopelli, and Lunch Loops. Despite being in the same valley, theses three areas are all distinctive, each providing a unique style of riding. There is a huge variety and yet a consistent feel among the areas that you only get with desert mountain biking.
Done some desert riding before? Have the technique and balance to ride the big rocks? Come test those skills at the Lunch Loop trail system.
Its proximity to town and high concentration of trails makes this area a local favorite. The individual trails are shorter and closer together than Kokopelli, providing a substantial number of trail miles in a relatively small space. The Lunch Loops are always growing, and this year brings more beginner trails to the area, but overall this trail system has more technically demanding riding than the previous two.
Intermediate trails like Miramonte Rim and High Noon will introduce you to rock ledges and drops, while the advanced trails like Holy Cross and Pre-Nup will raise those challenges to the next level. Still want more? The double-black-diamond downhill runs of Free Lunch and Pucker Up will send you off drops higher than your head and challenge the very best riders.
North Fruita Desert
Nestled at the base of the Bookcliffs in the North Fruita Desert, 18 road is the cross country rider’s dream. Smooth, fast, flowy, twisty — however you want to describe it — this is the area of long strips of perfect narrow singletrack draped along the ridges and valleys of the desert terrain.
Riding at 18 road is typically accomplished via a series of short loops, usually starting with the winding, gradual climb up Prime Cut followed by your choice from a lineup of mind-blowing downhill runs. Whether your preference is the exposed, scenic ridge rides of Joe’s and Zippity, the open-flow turns of Kessel Run or Chutes and Ladders, or the jumps, features, and big-bermed corners of PBR and Mojo, any choice is the right one.
After your loop, circle back by the parking lot, try to squirt a quick drink through that huge grin on your face, and head back up the hill for the next lap.
Kokopelli is the photographers’ favorite trail system. Cliff edges, canyon views, and stunning red rock, make this the most scenic area to ride in the valley. The moderate-length trails are a perfect blend of smooth singletrack and technical rocky features. From the beginner-friendly Rustler’s Loop to the expert-level Moore Fun, Kokopelli really does have something for everyone.
A lap of the classic Mary’s and Horsethief loops will have you riding trails that have graced the pages of countless magazines. Bring your camera and plan for a long ride with all the time you’ll spend stopping and looking around this incredible area.
Come try them all and find your favorite; but remember no matter where you ride, you’re certain to create memories to last a lifetime here in the Grand Valley.
Dennis Jones is the founder of cyclingjunction.com
Editor’s note: In addition to the three main trail areas, each year we include a map or two of other rides in or near the valley. This year we feature Turkey Flats on Glade Park, a map of which follows the three areas described here.