Tag Archives: mountain bike trail review

New Flagstaff Loop Trail

Jay and I are incredibly excited about the Flagstaff Loop Trail, a 42 mile circle of mostly singletrack surrounding Flagstaff.  Construction on the Loop Trail began in 2008 and Flagstaff Biking Organization hopes to fully connect the loop through trail construction this year.  We helped on one of the missing links this spring and really hope that the remaining missing links will be finished by the end of the year.

In the meantime, we are now able to make a small loop near our apartment on Lake Mary Road by connecting to a new Loop Trail segment behind the Pine Canyon gated community.  That segment heads across a mesa and then drops down towards Skunk Canyon.  At the moment most of the trail is unsigned so it is helpful to either study the Loop Trail map (see link above) or go with someone who knows the area.  The Loop Trail is designed to be between beginner and intermediate so it is the perfect practice area for me.

The first video shows where the new trail turns off of the Arizona Trail.  If you stayed straight it would head towards Fisher Point.

This video shows a representative sample of the trail.  Note the extremely dry conditions.  The trail should improve when we’ve had some more rain.

Mountain Biking in the Pine-Strawberry AZ Area

Jay riding the Pine-Strawberry Trail on his Salsa Fargo

Over the long weekend, Sharon and I agreed we needed to get out and camp somewhere. We decided on Rim Country based on the prediction of perfect weather. The prediction held true. I had a great morning riding the Pine-Strawberry Trail. I rode from our campsite off of Hardscrabble Road up to Fossil Creek Road. This portion of the dirt road was very fast on my bike, a Salsa Fargo 29er.  I then took the Fossil Creek Road on through the town of Strawberry and picked up the Pine-Strawberry Trail.

Unfortunately the video footage above is washed out or over exposed.  I hope future full sunlight footage will be better, as I plan to get a polarizing filter for the go-pro camera. I was wearing sunglasses, but the mixed shade/sun/shade made it hard for me to see at times. It’s so washed out that it is hard to see, but early on in the video the trail is quite steep and I just let the bike roll, plunging off of multiple ledges. Yes, it was a rough ride on a rigid bike.

I still really want to come back at some point and ride the Highline Trail/ Arizona Trail. Of course, if I am still in northern Arizona I do not think I will want to miss the Fire On The Rim race and festival.

Mountain Biking in Sedona

view from lunch spot in Sedona

The great thing about riding in Sedona ... great views!

I have heard Jay talking about the gnarly trail in Sedona for years.  I imagine Sedona as a minefield of massive rock ledges, baby head rocks, and breath taking exposure.  For a long time I’ve had no interest in mountain biking there, I’ll stick to my hiking boots and leave the biking to the experts.  Well, not anymore.  Having ridden my mountain bike in 9 states and 2 Canadian provinces, I’m used to trying new trail systems and hopefully finding something in my ability level or just beyond.  In settling down, we are determined to keep seeing and experiencing new things and pushing our comfort zone.  So yesterday, we headed down to Sedona.

jay and sharon's bikes in sedona

The start of our loop, unloading at the parking area

Jay knows the manager at the new Over the Edge Bike Shop in Sedona, so we stopped there first.  I was so glad we did.  They had a great, locally made map that we bought and the guy in the shop was able to recommend a seven mile loop that is a favorite of beginner riders.  Great shop, we’ll definitely be back.

jay studying the map

The map was incredibly useful

The trail started on Long Canyon, but since Long Canyon shortly ends in Wilderness, you have to turn left and continue on Dead Man’s Pass trail.

dead man's pass trail sign

This trail was not nearly as intimidating as it sounds

In fact you basically keep turning left to avoid Wilderness along the route.  That’s one of the aggravating things for bicyclists in Sedona is that there is a ton of federally designated Wilderness (which does not allow for bikes but does allow for horses) and not all of it makes sense.  They basically set aside all of the higher up areas for Wilderness.

sedona wilderness

Can't go there! Time to turn!

This trail loop was awesome for its variety.  It started with buffed (if a bit sandy) singletrack that slowly climbed.  Next, there was a series of relatively short and relatively steep descents.  After that you encounter a twisty flowy section that is reminiscent of a pump track.  Finally, you turn on Cockscomb to head back and get a nice flowing descent until the last bit where you have to go up again.  There’s a little section of road that finishes out the loop.

A nice section of up and down

What I realized about Sedona is that it is a lot like Moab.  Yes, Moab is where expert riders go to push their skills to the limits and break their bikes.  But Moab is also interested in reaching out to all levels of bikers and they are creating more and more beginner and intermediate trail.  The trail I rode in Sedona at Dead Horse State Park was very similar to this trail in Sedona, but with some added sections of slick rock.  I’m looking forward to riding here again.

jay and sharon

On our lunch break

North Fruita Desert, 18 Road Trail System, Fruita, CO

Fruita desert

North Fruita desert

On our way through Fruita, Colorado Sharon and I rode and camped in the North Fruita Desert right next to the 18 Road trail system.  This area is the smoothest and most flowing in the Grand Junction / Fruita region.  My top two favorites are Zippity Do Da and Chutes and Ladders to Edge Loop. Joe’s Ridge and Zippity Do Da both offer fast steep exposed trail that goes right down a ridge line.  It looks intimidating and sort of is because of the speed you can carry, but the trail tread is smooth and most of the turns are nice, wide, sweeping and a little banked.  This whole trail system could be easily ridden in two days or one super epic day.  One day for everything besides the Edge Loop and one day for the Edge Loop.  The area is not without a few tough climbs, Prime Cut to Chutes and Ladders offers up a tough climb with multiple short steep pitches and a switchback or two.  The speed and flow are what make the campground and parking areas fill up.  This is a very popular trail system, because of its fun for everyone factor.

Riding the whole Edge Loop is something I have in my sights, as I just have not got a chance to yet.

Sharon here, adding my two cents since I had the opportunity to ride this trail system as well.  Kessel Run is the only trail marked as beginner and it is a ton of fun.  You can ride it in both directions and it is just made for a fun rollercoaster ride.  Kids love this trail, which can be a bit hard on the ego, but also inspiring to watch a seven year old girl flying both up and down the trail (while guys with big heavy bikes get their friends to shuttle them up the road).  I am also really stoked about the new trail we helped work on, Down Uppity.  You can get to it from Vegetarian (an easy but pretty boring connector trail) and it is a smooth easy route.  It is only harder than Kessel Run in terms of being up on a rise with a bit of exposure at times, but it is every bit as flowing.

Grand Junction Lunch Loop Trail System

I will start with a map.

Map of lunch loop trail system



Lunch Loop BLM Map [PDF]  – Trail conditions and info available on COPMOBA’s site.

Yes, this time I actually remembered to take a few photos. Still cell phone pictures, no helmet mount video cam yet. Which is sad because I had a great day on the bike and managed to ride nearly everything I tried. Not wanting to snap my fork or jaw bone, with no full face helmet, I skipped two large drops.  That said I also rode many of the big drops.

This system runs the full range from the flowing, easy Kids Meal Loop to the full on, big obstacle free ride session offered up at Free Lunch.  I took a bit of time and rode a lot of the trails in the system.  After more than three hours of riding I still missed a few, but hopefully I can ride them when we pass through Grand Junction again.  I started by climbing a good deal, up Tabeguache.  I then turned and climbed Pre-Nup.  Climbing Pre-Nup is a good challenge.  I was up to most of it except one switchback that was ridiculously steep increasing radius turn with ledges.  Coming down the switchback would probably be a lot of fun.  From the top of Pre-Nup I picked up Lunch Line and rode it to the start of Free Lunch.

View from top of Free Lunch

I of course stopped to snap the photo of the view above, then on to Free Lunch.

Free Lunch screening drop

The rock shown in the photo above is a ramp that drops into the start of Free Lunch.  There is a sign next to it explaining that this is a difficult trail and if the first drop is too much you should pick another trail.  I rolled this one at a good clip.  There are much bigger more technical drops later on that are optional.  I went for one of the bigger drops and it was actually quite smooth.  Later on in the ride there is no clearly defined trail, only boundary markers to stay within.  This was a lot of fun, picking an interesting but not too interesting line.  From the bottom of Free Lunch it was on to Holy Cross.  Holy Cross was super fun with some good solid rock gardens, ledges and other features and also a good bit of speed and flow.  No wonder everyone that lives around here says Holy Cross is a must ride.  From the end of Holy Cross I rode Ali Ali to Raven Ridge and climbed the ridge.  From here I took High Noon back over to Pucker Up.

start of Pucker Up trail

The rock berm in the center was even more fun than it looks.  At the bottom of Pucker Up I took the Tabeguache trail down to Curt’s Lane. I hadn’t planned on being out so long, but once I got warmed up I just didn’t want to stop.  Still plenty of stuff I did not ride left for next time.  Just a great day on the bike.

Longmont Area Trails: Heil Ranch and Walker Ranch

Heil Ranch

Heil Ranch

Heil Ranch

This area consists of an out and back and a couple loops as well as a connector trail to Hall Ranch.  The Wapiti trail is the out and back.  It’s very fast and flowing with rock gardens that can, and there for should be ridden at very high speed.  Some of the turns are banked and have huge rock walls that build them up, giving a nice gentle turn radius.  This trail has been built for heavy use with a lot of rock armoring and other machine built stuff.  This thing reminds of an even more buffed out Rocky Ridge trail in Flagstaff, AZ.

trail at Heil Ranch

photo by Kiki Holl that shows some of the rock work on the trail

After reading some silly reviews of this trail I feel like I have to clarify further. There are no big ledges, slabs or narrow choke points or slow going sections. For those who are accustom to rocks it’s not even moderately rocky.  What this trail is, is crazy big ring spinning out in the downhill direction kind of fast.  I occasionally down shifted and used my brakes to check speed since it’s multi-use and a popular trail.  Meeting other trail users head on at 25-30 mph is far from ideal.

It’s also a good climb since you can just stay in the middle chain ring and crank up it surprisingly fast.  There is a great overlook at the top facing out towards Hall Ranch. Hall Ranch sounds like a lot of fun.  I am thinking it would be great to start at the bottom of Wipiti and ride out to Hall Ranch and back for a big mileage day.

overlook at Heil Ranch

photo by Kiki Holl of overlook

I also rode the Wild Turkey Trail to add a little more mileage since the miles just fly by out there.  I would not hit this trail system right after a big rain or snow melt, but it’s all well armored and should dry out fast.  On the whole Heil Ranch its a good place for a 1-3 hour ride and after that you can head to Hall Ranch. I missed Hall Ranch so we still need to go ride that one at some point.

Walker Ranch

Walker Ranch Loop

Sharon here, I’m going to step in and add my perspective on Walker Ranch, which I rode with Jay a few days before he rode Heil Ranch.  When I say that I rode the entire 7 mile loop, I really mean that my bike and I traversed the entire loop.  Sometimes I was on my bike pedaling, sometimes I was next to my bike pushing it, and for one very challenging section I was actually carrying my bike (as was Jay).  Walker Ranch has a good variety of terrain with tight switchbacks down and up the mountain, a smooth sandy portion along the river, and open mountain meadows that afford incredible views.

View of river from Walker Ranch loop

View of river from Walker Ranch loop

This video below from a local rider named Lindsay does a great job of showing what the trail is like:

Overall this ride really challenged both my technical riding skills and my fitness.  Like most rides in Colorado you are pedaling at a high elevation, taking in less of the oxygen you desperately need to propel you and your bike up these pitches.  As a beginner rider I focused on small goals and celebrating each accomplishment along the way.  I was particularly proud that at the end of the ride I just kept pushing a small gear and made it up the last long (but not steep) uphill stretch to the parking lot.  The views were awesome and we had beautiful weather, but I would prefer to do this loop again as a hike and take my bike to Heil Ranch or Hall Ranch instead.

Sharon carrying bike on Walker Ranch Loop

Some trail is just not safe for anyone to ride, such as these rock steps along a cliff at Walker Ranch


Note: Two of the pictures from Heil Ranch were taken by Kiki Holl a few days after Jay rode the trail.  Kiki is a friend of ours from Virginia that just moved to Colorado and is a great rider and photographer.

The Rainbow Rim Trail … Believe the Hype

While Sharon and I were between our Grand Canyon Trust trips in Utah and the Arizona strip, we had the opportunity to camp on the North Kaibab National Forest. We were very fortunate that we also got to ride part of the Rainbow Rim trail. The Rainbow Rim trail is relatively new and goes from Parissawampitts point to Timp point.

parissawampitts Trail head

Where we started our ride

As far as I can tell this is the only trail with significant Grand Canyon rim view portions that is open to mountain bikes. There are a few places on the north rim where the Kaibab National Forest goes right to the rim and the National Park starts right below the rim. The Kaibab National Forest seized the opportunity and created a trail built for mountain bikes that is largely right on or near the rim that also encompasses several points.

view from along the rainbow rim trail

An early Canyon view along the trail

The whole trail segment is a point to point totaling about 18 miles. Sharon and I started at Parissawampitts and went to the next point, Fence and back for a total of 11.5 miles of sweet single track. The trail has a fair number of twists and turns and ups and downs and nothing too crazy.  It’s mostly fast flowing single track of the sort that induces grins on most if it were just simply out in the woods somewhere and not on the rim of the Grand Canyon. But of course it is right on the rim much of the way.  The trail leaves you breathless in more ways than one since it’s at over 9,000 feet of elevation.

Sharon and Jay at Fence Point, overlooking Grand Canyon

Sharon and Jay at Fence Point, overlooking Grand Canyon

Sharon adds: The photo above was taken by this awesome man, Frank, who we met at Fence point.  Frank had come all the way from Hollywood California to ride the Rainbow Rim Trail.  He had a long grey beard and was in his early eighties.  He was just loving the trail, taking it slow and doing different parts everyday.  He was a great inspiration to me as I struggled to both breathe and ride at 9,000 feet.

Rainbow Rim Trail

a view of the trail itself

I will now be thinking about going back until I actually get the chance to. There is also lots of nice primitive camping to be had along the trail at various points.  I would think that a whole week here would be better than a long weekend.  It also seems well suited to lightly supported bike packing trip with all the great camping along the way and in the area and the Arizona Trail being so close. The possibilities for adventure on this part of the North Kaibab seem endless.

Fence Point

Another great view from Fence Point into the Grand Canyon