Top Ten Mountain Bike Meccas (Beyond Moab)
Fruita North and Grand Junction West
Adapted from the Fruita Fat Tire Guide by Troy A. Rarick
Fruita Northâ€”18 Road Area, the Bookcliffs
Location: 18 Road, begin at main parking area, 4.3 miles past pavement end on 18 Road.
Description: Huge loop of outstanding quality. As you look at the Bookcliffs from the parking area this ride goes around the ridge far left and returns via the high point on the ridge far right. It's big, it's advanced, and it's really good.
Trail: Fire roads to doubletrack to technical singletrack. Thirty miles, 2,500 feet gain, riding increases in difficulty as you go. This ride can be eight-plus hours for intermediate riders. Advanced riders in good shape should plan on four to five hours.
Route: Begin riding up the road (north) bearing left on the trail in 0.5 mile. Turn left again on the road in another 0.5 mile. Stay on this road for 2.7 miles, over three small ridges to a right turn on dirt road (mile 3.0). (The next right works as well, but don't cross cattleguard by house.) Now you're on Coal Gulch Road heading northeast into the Gulch. Stay right at the only fork (mile 11) and begin climbing the ridge. Stay on main road along the ridgetop, passing several spurs and natural gas wells. Still on the ridge, just past the last gas well, the road turns to doubletrack and begins descending (mile 18). After one steep uphill (mile 19) there's a rolling section before a steep downhill. Make sure to stop at the viewpoint as the ridge opens up; a great stopping point is just to the left (mile 19.5).
From the viewpoint descend two steep hills (now on the very front of the Bookcliffs) on an old road. Cross a small rise and descend a third very steep hill. Only am quarter mile later, as your momentum slows, turn right on singletrack into a grassy meadow. This amusement-park descent is a free ride all the way into the canyon below. Remember how much fun the descent was as you turn left in the wash and curse the sand for the next mile, seemingly 10. Portage a small waterfall continuing down the wash. The trail leaves the wash as the canyon opens up, thank goodness, sparing further anguish. (mile 22.5).
Easily followed technical trail, with several steep grinds, meets a road at mile 26. Turn left on this doubletrack for one mile then right on marked trail to an old wire fence corral at mile 27.2. Bear left at this corral and follow a fast, well-marked trail (west) back to cow pond at start, just below your car.
Grand Junction Westâ€”Tabeguache Area
Tabeguache Trail (tab-a-watch)
From the trailhead, 1.6 miles up the Colorado National Monument road, near Grand Junction, this super trail covers 148 miles to Montrose, Colorado. As with the Kokopelli near Fruita, the trailhead offers many shorter loops for excellent day riding. Most of the side loops are good singletrack.
Lunch Loop Area
Location: Start at Tabeguach Trailhead on Monument Road.
Description: From the main artery, a mile grind of jeep road including the famous "widowmaker hill climb." If you can resist the many single-track spurs on both sides, follow this road to the top. Most rides in this section begin via this road.
Route overview: These rides are intermediate to advanced. From the high point on the 4x4 road, a right one-half mile past the Widowmaker begins the Eagles Wing. This singletrack meets a junction atop a ridge, offering awesome views of the Colorado National Monument. Turn right at this overlook (left leads to the road to the Ribbon and the Gunny Loop). After topping the ridge a gnarley descent (stay right at junction with trail left) takes you back to the Widowmaker base. Orâ€¦
Left at the aforementioned junction is the Eagles Trail. This advanced ride descends singletrack back to the parking area at Monument Road. From 200 yards below the Widowmaker a right puts you on the Lemon Squeezer Trail. Staying right at all junctions will take you to the Gunny Loop Trail. Left at the third junction (a definite "T") is a cool descent down Miramonte Canyon. The first two lefts will return to the 4x4 road. Many confusing spurs abound. This is an area well suited for exploration.
Try each of these trails in both directions. They are all outstanding.
The other rides in this section begin where the main 4x4 road artery meets the pavement (Little Park Road) just past the Eagles Wing turnoffâ€”except the Rough Canyon ride, which passes this point on the approach drive.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication