Get Out! Trails in Loma will test your mettle
September is usually when I start taking longer and more technical bike rides. I look for rides with more hills and more rocks.
In the fall, after months of riding, I try to see just how much progress I’ve made over the summer.
This year I decided to get an early start on my endurance tests. A couple of times over the summer we headed to Loma to put our skills to the test on some of the trails at the western end of the loop area. Two of these, Lion’s Loop and Troy Built, provide a chance to test hill-climbing endurance and technical skills.
Lion’s Loop was the second loop trail built in the Kokopelli area. In 1989 the original Kokopelli trail was built, and then the Colorado Plateau Mountain Biking Association and the Bureau of Land Management began working together to build more loop trails overlooking the Colorado River.
Lion’s Loop, sponsored by the Lions Club, was built in 1991. Parts of it follows an old jeep road with singletrack sections filling in the rest.
Troy Built was built in 1995–96, and its construction was led by Troy Schnurr, currently the lead ranger in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.
Troy and a group of young Mormon missionaries built the trail partly as a way to provide riders a path across Salt Creek to the rest of the Kokopelli trail. Before Troy Built, riders riding the 138-mile Kokopelli trail had to ford the creek. The trail also connected to Lion’s Loop to give riders a few more riding options.
We had no plans to ride the whole Kokopelli trail to Moab, but we did plan to ride Lion’s Loop and Troy Built and then close our ride on the frontage road. This ride involves quite a few hills, some moments of major exposure, and some highly technical sections as well.
As one recent rider said, “It was a good challenge, and I’m excited to get back out there.”
We started from a small unmarked parking area about three miles west of the main Kokopelli parking lot on the frontage road. After climbing a short hill, riders find themselves at an area with a map and several trail heads. Go straight, across the cattle guard and descend the jeep road. Look for a trail and signs on the right leading toward Lion’s Loop.
Immediately you’ll start climbing on a rocky stretch of trail. Use your steering skills, and you’ll make it up just fine. The trail alternates from flat to climbing for a bit and then rolls along high above the river.
Stay alert, though, because soon you’ll find yourself in the midst of a very technical and exposed section of trail. There are parts of this that I ride, or attempt to ride, and other parts that I have to walk. That’s OK. Sometimes the penalty for failure is just too high for me.
After descending a short hill you’ll start climbing again. Three doubletrack hills separate you from the turn off to Troy Built. Fortunately it’s easy to see a line through the rock and rubble, and there are places to rest along the way.
Originally the turnoff to Troy Built involved a steep and rocky downhill section. Thanks to COPMOBA, the BLM and great volunteers, that section was rerouted into a fun, rolling, downhill section with some nice switchbacks and drops. Turn left, onto Troy Built.
For a while Troy rolls along above the river. It has a few interesting areas through washes and then turns north to follow Salt Creek. After a short, steep downhill there is a spur trail leading down to the creek for those riding the whole Kokopelli trail.
We stayed high and climbed up several more hills. These hills are much smoother than the ones on Lion’s Loop and are technically easy to ride, though not without rest stops for me. From here Troy is a fun, rolling bit of singletrack back to a parking lot at the end of the frontage road.
We headed east back to the car, happy with our efforts and our success.