Phil’s World near Cortez, CO

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Phil’s World is a trail system that offers plenty of loop options for rides of different length.  The trails are one directional to avoid oncoming traffic.  What they all have in common is that they are zippy and fun, the famous Rib Cage Trail with berms and jumps in particular.

We did an evening ride of about 10 km and a ride the next morning of about 20 km.  Without really knowing the history of the trail system, I just like to say: Thank you Phil for the pleasure!

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Moab – The Whole Enchilada

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Whole Enchilada is the most raved about MTB-ride in and outside of Moab. And as the name suggests, it has it all: high-altitude alpine riding, smooth slalom berms, slickrock, views, technical challenges, etc.  It can be ridden as an epic loop with a length of 61 miles/100 km and a total elevation gain of 8300 feet/2500 meters.

For some reason we chose the shuttle ride option (like almost everybody else) that saved us almost about 1800 meters of climbing and costed only 25$.   There is still a climbing part at the beginning up to Burro Pass that made us gasp and feel a bit dizzy due to the high altitude of 11.150 ft/3.400 m.

The trail from Burro Pass down is steep with some switchbacks and loose rocks, but all rideable.  As the vegetation changes from alpine firs to birch trees the trail gets faster.  In Hazzard County the trail is zippy and fun as it is winding through wide open plains.  The Kokopelli Trail which is more a road than a trail leads to UPS and LPS, the upper and lower Porcupine Singletrack.  This is the best section: the trail goes up and down slickrock with fast and flowy sections on packed sand surface.  Views are stunning as the trail runs along the Porcupine Rim.   At the intersection with the Sandflats Rd the Porcupine Rim Trail starts, a gnarly Jeep track that beats you up.  Hard to enjoy.  
Eventually, when you are well shaken, the Porcupine Rim Trail becomes a singletrack again.  This is where the fun comes back. The trail turns towards the Colorado River Gorge and comes up with some tricky technical challenges and spits you finally out at a parking lot at the river.  The paved bike path along the Colorado River brings you back into town with sore wrists from the hundreds of drops that you did on this 35 mile/55 km ride and a big, big smile on your face.

Moab – Mountain Bike Mecca

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No doubt, Moab is the world’s most famous mountain bike spot.  The classic ride in Moab is the Slickrock Trail – an about 18 km long dotted line on pale red rock and still a unique experience.  The moderate total elevation gain and length may let the ride look easy, yet, it is a challenging ride, due to the many short, steep climbs.  Even if there are rides with more fun, flow or adrenaline in Moab, the Slickrock Trail is the one you just have to do.

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The “Mag7” name’s origin comes from 7 magnificent trails in the upper area of Gemini Bridges Road.  And I fully agree that they are indeed magnificent.   This is the sort of Moab-ride you dream of:  views of Arches N.P. and other bizarre rock formations, tight turns, slickrock and red dirt, flow and fun.

Mag7 is best done as a shuttle ride starting from the upper end of the Gemini Bridges Rd.   Bull Run is the first Mag7 trail you hit.  After Bull Run you have the option to go back up the dirt road to do the Getaway Trail for extended fun and even more flow.  Continue on Arth’s and Cyn Trail to get either to the Gold Bar Rim Jeep Trail that climbs up again to the Portal Trail or take Gemini Bridges Rd to connect to the Moab Brand / Bar M trail system.  We decided for less climbing and exposure and did the nice and rather easy trails Lazy EZ, Rusty Spur and Sidewinder that brought us back in direction Moab.  A paved bike path brings you back to Moab.  Total length of the ride is about 50 km (30 miles).  One of the best rides anywhere!

 

Fruita, Colorado

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Dinosaurs and mountain biking are the two things that make Fruita so special.  In fact, there is a dinosaur-on-bike sculpture in downtown.

The two main mountain bike trail systems are the Kokopelli Trails above the Colorado River and the 18 Road Trails in the North Fruita Desert.

The Kokopelli Trails that consist of several loop trails (Mary’s, Horsethief’s, Wrangler’s) are mostly rocky or sandy and quite technical in some spots.  The trail down to the Horsethief loop in particular, is where you better carry the bike (which can be still challenging and painful, as I can tell from own experience).  The ride at the edge of cliffs is awesome due to the spectacular views.  Either way you go, there are rock steps to go up or down.  As I struggled to overcome some of the rock steps I couldn’t get into the flow in some sections.  All in all, the Kokopelli Trails offer a great and challenging experience.

The 18 Road trails on the opposite side of town are quite different.  The lunarlike landscape, but as well, the smooth and zippy trails are fantastic.  The Prime Cut trail is the best uphill trail to access most other trails, e.g. Zippity, PBR, Chutes & Ladders, etc.

After going down the fast and smooth PBR Trail with some jumps and berms, we went up Prime Cut again to hit Zippity Do Da via Frontside Trail.   What an outstanding ride!  Zippy and fun on Frontside and then the smooth ride up and down the ridge in a peculiar landscape.  Stunning and awesome. The double loop added up to 20 km and much more pictures that we took during the ride.

Salt Lake City, Utah

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There are not many large cities in which you can start a good, challenging trail ride in town.  Starting at the Popperton Park in the northwest of the city, you take the Bonneville Shoreline Trail that climbs up to the hills north of Salt Lake City.  Then the trail runs alongside the hills and offers great views.  In a turn to the left the Bobsled Trail turns off left down the hill in an old creek bed (and is easily missed).  The further you get down on Bobsled the better the flow and the bigger the berms.  In the lower part of Bobsled there are optional lines with jumps and drops that connect back to the trail.  Some of the jumps let you shoot in to the air over old, rusty cars, creeks or up a berm.  Serious fun.

Park City, Utah

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Park City is a ski town, but in the summer it turns into a great spot for mountain biking.  There are more than 350 miles of trails for non-motorized use that want to be explored on fat tires.

I rode the IMBA Epic loop that combines various trails of Park City and neighbouring resorts.  It is over 26 miles (45 km) and you accumulate more than 3,600 feet (1250 m) of elevation gain.  Perhaps, my breakfast wasn’t big enough… my energy level was fairly low after the initial climb.  That climb after the start winds up through birch forests and lifts you up to an altitude of 3000 meters and makes your lungs and legs burn.   After the long climb you ride along the ridge with some ascents and descents until the downhill part of the ride starts.

As short ride before breakfast I went up the Spiro Trail and down the Crescent Mine Grade.  The ride was short (7 km), but fun, because the Crescent becomes a sort of giant slalom in the lower section.

Gooseberry Mesa – Mountain Bike Playground near Virgin, Utah

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Gooseberry Mesa is a table top mountain or high plateau close to the Zion National Park and is like a mountain bike playground with lots of slickrock riding.  There are various options to combine the trails at the South Rim, North Rim and Hidden Canyon in any direction.  You just have to follow the white dots up and down the rocks.

The ride on Gooseberry Mesa is hilarious and surprising, as the dots lead you up and down in a way you would not guess.  The ride is basically on the same altitude and the distance is rather moderate, however, the countless short but steep climbs make it quite strenuous.  Depending on the route you can easily spend 2 – 4 hours with rock hopping in this MTB-Playground.  To get to the trailhead from Rockville a car with higher clearance is recommended on the bumpy, unpaved road.

Thunder Mountain Trail, Utah (nearby Bryce Canyon)

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The Bryce Canyon Nation Park is spectacular.  On the close by Thunder Mountain Trail you ride through a similarly stunning landscape with red sandstone pillars and hoodoos.  When I was riding across the one of the ridges my senses just got overwhelmed by the views and the effort of keeping the balance on the exposed trail with wind gusts.

The trail is mostly smooth with packed sand and gravel surface and can be done as a loop or as out back.  As a loop it is best done in clockwise direction, so a part of the climb is on a paved bike path from the Red Rock Visitor Center and on a forest road that ends on the Coyote Hollow Parking Lot.  Because of the scenery, I recommend to ride the trail as out and back starting from the lower trailhead.  Thus, you can enjoy the stunning views from different angles and have fun on the downhill with some demanding steep switchbacks.  If you are in the Bryce Canyon area this trail is an absolute must.

Sedona, Arizona

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Sedona has it all: a great trail system with lots of rock riding, a magnificent scenery and a sort of new age flair.  It certainly is a mountain biking mecca where you can spend a couple of days exploring single track trails from “easy” to “insane”.

My favourite ride was the combination of the Broken Arrow Trail, Submarine Rock Trail, Little Horse Trail, Mystic Trail and  Llama Trail (an extended version of the Twin Butte Loop).  After the start from the Broken Arrow Trailhead the trail is mostly uphill with some technical spots and some red rock riding.  After about one mile it is worthwhile adding in the Submarine Rock Trail as out and back.  This trail takes you around and actually up to the top of Submarine Rock.

After the Chicken Point the Little Horse Trail winds down and gets smoother and faster.  continuing on the Llama Trail means just extending the fun and flow.  At the lower end of the Llama Trail you can connect to the trails in the Cathedral Rock area and extend your ride or ride back in the direction where you parked the car.  Navigation is pretty easy, due to the maps that are installed at almost every trail intersection.

Another great ride in the northwestern trail area of Sedona is the Aerie Loop around the Doe Mountain.  If you start the ride in town I recommend to use the Anaconda trail to connect to the other trails.  It is zippier than most of the other trails.

 

Marin County, California

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The cradle of mountain biking is just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.  The mountain bike pioneers used to race down the Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County.   So, you would expect this area to be a mountain bike mecca nowadays.  It is a very nice, relaxed area with beautiful beaches, like Muir Beach and Stinson Beach, but it is not a mountain bike hot spot.  To a certain degree this is due to Marin County’s opinion about allowing mountain biking on single track trails.

The best ride in the area is most likely Camp Tamarancho a few miles northwest of San Raphael with purpose built trails.  Camp Tamarancho requires usage fee (day pass 5$).

I enjoyed my ride on the Diaz Ridge Trail down to Muir Beach.  Starting from Mill Valley there are various options to get up to the top of the trail. Cruising through the coast hills and down to the beaches with a fresh ocean breeze in the face lets you breathe the relaxed atmosphere there.   The Diaz Ridge Trail is a bit over 3 miles long, but there are several options to make it a loop and a longer ride.

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