Since I moved to Colorado last summer, I had my eyes on riding the Fruita area. I may live in the same state but it isn't exactly down the road. It is nearly a four hour drive, making it a bit far for one day trip. My plan was originally to spend a night in the area and put in at least two days of riding.
Puma and I raised chickens for years. However when we moved from Maine to Colorado, we left our flock behind. With spring in full swing, we were looking to rebuild our flock. Puma found specific breeds of birds that she had interest in the Grand Junction area. The drive was a bit far just for chickens. She knew I have been looking to put together a trip to the Fruita area. Without much difficulty, she talked me into making a day trip to Fruita to mountain bike. I just had to make a couple of extra stops after my ride to pick up chickens.
I woke up at 430am and hit the road by 5. The first hour of the drive was before the sunrise. The drive went smoothly and I was at the trailhead before 9am. Driving early in the morning allowed me to see several herds of elk along Highway 50. The herds were all in the same general area between Gunnison and Montrose. The largest herd I'm guessing was around 40 or so elk.
The Fruita and Grand Junction area has several groups of trails to choose from. The Kokopelli Loops, 18 Road, Lunch Loops, and Rabbit Valley are among the more popular riding areas. I only had one day to ride this trip so I chose to ride trails at the Kokopelli Loops. The Kokopelli Loops area has at least ten trails including the Kokopelli Trail and around 40 miles of riding. I have heard nothing but great things about these trails. Nearly every report on this area boasted of great variety and stunning scenery. The photos of the area seemed to confirm the reports.
Like the name implies, there are numerous loops in the Kokepelli Loops area. None of the trails, with the exception of the Kokopelli, are that long. It is easy to combine different trails and loops to put in a nice ride of any length and suit any skill level. After looking at maps of the area and reading trail reviews, I chose a route that combined numerous trails to put together a ride that would offer a decent variety of terrain and take in as much scenery as possible.
I started my ride from the Kokopelli Trailhead which is located conveniently very close to exit 15 of I-70. After a quick climb from the trailhead, I descended to the start of Mary's Loop. Mary's Loop initially climbed on somewhat rough double track. The scenery starts quickly with views of the Colorado River from high above the canyon. The trail stays double track with a few technical sections all the way to the start of the Horsethief Bench Loop.
|The scenery starts quickly
|Easy double track early on Mary's Loop
|Looking down toward Rustler's Loop
|The Colorado comes into view
|The rough descent into Horsethief Bench
|Looking across Horsethief Bench
|Section of slickrock
|Looking down the river
|Sweet singletrack and sweet views following the rim
|Cliffs across the river
|Rock formation across the river
|Smooth trail on Horsethief Bench
|Heading up slickrock into a wash
|Climbing up a small canyon
|Grassy section of Horsethief Bench
|Riding around a slot canyon
|Following a sandy wash
|Riding below cliffs
|A technical section on Mary's Loop that travels a few feet from the
rim. It's the same rim you see in the distance.
|Riding along the canyon rim just feet from a long drop
|Heading into a rocky stretch on Mary's Loop.
|More riding along the rim
|Riding high above Steve's Loop
|A flowy stretch of singletrack
|Nice view of the river
|A canyon the trail passes around, the
trail rides along the top of the wall
|Another slot to ride around
|Riding around another canyon
|The trail rides along the top of the wall
|Looking back where I rode on Steve's Loop
|Looking down on a slot I rode around earlier
After a couple more miles on Mary's Loop I turned onto Wrangler's Loop. Wrangler's Loop travels away from the canyons on singletrack with good flow for a couple miles. The loop is generally fairly easy until it descends the last 3/4 of a mile. The drop is on somewhat rough double track with loose rock that may pose problems for inexperienced riders. Wrangler's Loop ends near the beginning of Mary's Loop.
|Looking down on Horsethief Bench
|Another section of Wrangler's
|River views on Rustler's
|Looking across the river
|Nice singletrack on Rustler's
|One last look at the river and canyon on Rustler's
|Riding under a cliff near the end of Rustler's
|Nice rock formations across the river
|More rock formations
|Good view down the canyon from Horsethief Bench Loop
|Looking down a large slot canyon on Steve's Loop