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September 19, 2008

Virgin-Fruita-Moab 2007

Filed under: MTB Travel, Virgin-Fruita-Moab 2007 — anotherheader @ 8:58 pm

[This a log from our Spring 2007 trip to Virgin River, Fruita, and Moab.  I’ve included a lot of details for future reference.]

Day 1, April 12: To Las Vegas with Nick and Dave

Nick and I departed the Bay Area around 11 am and, after a nap break, a high wind closure on 58 between Bakersfield and Mojave, a prerequisite stop at the Mad Greek in Baker for dinner, and numerous stops so Nick could reinforce his claim of territory in the greater Southern California area, we arrived in Las Vegas a little after midnight. The drive time for this stretch is around 10 hours. Scott, Val, Kevin, and Brian left the Bay Area in the evening and stopped short of Vegas.

Day 2, April 13: To Virgin with Nick, Dave, Scott, Val, Kevin, Brian, and Becky.

A casual start from Las Vegas put Nick and I on the road around noon arriving in Virgin in the early afternoon. This leg is about 2 hours and 40 mins. Scott and Val and company took care of some last minute repairs and picked Becky up at the airport before following along to Virgin.

Camp in Virgin

The campground in Virgin:

http://www.zionriverresort.com/index.html

Virgin/Gooseberry Mesa

Day 3, April 14: Gooseberry Mesa with Dave, Scott, Val, Kevin, Brian, and Becky

Pictures:

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/GooseberryDay1

Better dismount to the right

Better dismount to the right

The weather forecast for the next couple of days indicated that Saturday would be best for a Gooseberry Mesa ride, so we packed into the truck and headed up to the Mesa. The ride conditions were near ideal with moderate temperatures and winds (well, for Gooseberry). We headed out the South Rim Trail and partially out to the Point and then returned on the North Rim to Yellow Trail and then crossed back to the South Rim Trail via the always enjoyable Hidden Canyon Trail. We took South Rim Trail back to the parking lot. Total time was around 4 hours and there were some cooked quads from the burst climbs that Gooseberry provides.

Going up

Going up

For those who have not experienced Gooseberry Mesa, the riding experience is like no other. The trail system provides one technical challenge after another and is plausibly cleanable in either direction. Sandy/clay singletrack trail links extended sections of Navajo Sandstone that have near ideal traction characteristics. There are no extended climbs, but there are many short steep climbs that are sufficiently taxing.

The trail system is well marked, often with white dots painted on the sandstone. It looks like this year some “redotting” has occurred with more dots and some minor line revisions. If you follow the dots, you can be pretty much certain that you will have a decent transition at the bottom of the drop and a plausibly doable line for the climbs. Off the dot line, you are on your own.

Brian riding Gooseberry Mesa

Brian riding Gooseberry Mesa

The trail system also offers great views and interesting sandstone formations, which would, on their own, be worth the trip up on the often rough, and sometimes mud bogged roads (you might check with Bike Zion in Springdale for a road update). The view from the North Rim of the Mesa is particularly spectacular looking across a Technicolor wash to the peaks in Zion National Park. But don’t let the scenery distract you while riding–the first step off the Mesa is a doosy

Becky in Hidden Canyon

Becky in Hidden Canyon

Gooseberry Mesa links:

http://www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails/blm/gooseberry.html

Directions (finding the trail head is tricky, a GPS is useful):

http://www.ut.blm.gov/recsite/goosberrymesa.html

More ride descriptions (look for Gooseberry Mesa under the St. George Area heading):

http://www.utahmountainbiking.com/

More useful information including GPS stuff and a map:

http://www.bikerag.com/images/MAPS/ut_gooseberry_messa_review.htm

Day 4, April 15: JEM Trail with Dave, Scott, Kevin, Dan, Brian, and Becky

The day dawned with the threat of high winds and thunderstorms, so the crew headed to the lower elevation JEM trail for the days festivities. To save weather exposure, we shuttled with thanks to Val to the JEM/Goulds junction and dropped the JEM trail. JEM is a fast and twisty trail through the sagebrush with a few rocky technical spots and one drop at the top of the gorge that flummoxed all the day’s riders. At the connection with the Virgin Dam trail, we said our goodbyes to Becky who headed back to camp to catch her flight. The rest of the crew, headed back up the JEM trail to the connector road that leads to the Virgin Dam Trailhead. After an out and back on Hurricane Rim Trail, we took Virgin Dam Trail to JEM to Sheep Bridge Road to the highway and then on back to camp just in time to miss the heavy rain. Overall, the ride was in the two-hour range.

Look under the St. George area : http://www.utahmountainbiking.com/

Rolling into some Guacamole

Rolling into some Guacamole

Day 5, April 16: Guacamole Trail with Dave, Scott, Kevin, Dan, and Brian

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/GuacamoleTrail

A recent addition to the Virgin area riding scene and a new ride for the crew this year is the Guacamole Trail. The trailhead is accessed by a dirt road a short distance from our camp at Zion Mesa RV Park that take you to the top of the mesa. The physical trailhead is not marked—a GPS is extremely useful for finding the trail! Check out the links if you are looking for a more detailed guide to getting there.

Once you’ve found the trail, you follow the reasonably frequent rock piles that take to a loop trail that certainly is reasonable from either direction (we took the right line at the loop intersection). Trail following was reasonably straightforward as we never hunted more than a few minutes to figure out where the trail went (a larger group helps). The layout is not as detailed as the spot system at Gooseberry, so the line is up to the rider, which adds to the experience.

Scott through the burn

Scott through the burn

Overall, the ride experience is like a mini Gooseberry Mesa. The track traverses Navajo sandstone and dirt singletrack with an eerie segment through a burnt out forest. The loop is shorter (about 8 miles) and the features tend to be smaller. The steep drops and climbs tend to be shorter than at Gooseberry. But make no mistake; there is plenty of challenge with a couple of very difficult to clean segments. It is a great warm-up for Goose and a good start for those not familiar with riding in the area and a good “easier” day for those looking for a break for their bods. It is definitely on the agenda for the next visit to Virgin territory.

Look under the St. George trails for Guacamole—this includes links to GPS information: http://www.utahmountainbiking.com/

Dan on the rock

Dan on the rock on Guacamole

Day 6, April 17: Gooseberry Mesa with Dave, Scott, Val, and Kevin plus a couple of folks who found us in the RV park.

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/GooseberryDay2

Gooseberry Mesa has more than one full day of riding for the mere mortal. Though the trail system does not have that many miles, the terrain is very demanding on the body and a four-hour ride leaves very little left in the tank. Though you could cover most of the trails in that time, you would do the trails in only one direction. The beauty of the trails at Gooseberry, is that ridden opposite directions, it is almost like being on a totally different trail system. The challenging climb in one direction becomes a tricky drop in another direction. It is hard to choose a better direction on most trails—both ways are fun and very different.

With that said, our ride for the day took us out South Rim to Hidden Canyon to North Rim with it’s spectacular views to Windmill to the Windmill doubletrack to South Rim and back to the parking lot. This was another four-hour-ish ride. It was loads of fun for all.

View from Steve's Trail in Fruita

View from Steve

Day 7, April 18: The road trip from Virgin to Fruita

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/VirginToFruita2007

The day dawned windy with the threat of weather closing in—just what a couple of high profile vehicles planning on a long drive like to see! Brian and Dan headed out earlier in the day and were able to ride Thunder Mountain on the way out to Fruita. The rest of us packed up and headed out around noon. For weather and expedience, we took the scenic I-15 to I-70 route. After a couple of stops, we arrived after dark, 382 miles later in Fruita and made camp. The evening’s entertainment consisted of finding a big black dog in the dark after Nick eased out of camp possibly because he mistook the trailer being moved with him tied up as being dropped off and abandoned (he is a pound dog that was dropped off). Then again, it could have been the lure of the nearby lake as he was found after 20 minutes or so of looking, when a couple of eyes lit up in the lights near the lake—it was either a big animal or a big black dog. Fortunately, it was Nick. He was pissed until the next day, possibly due to the drop off or the long ride but a couple of trips, on lease, to the lake changed his mood.

Brian using his full suspension in Fruita

Brian using his full suspension in Fruita

The State campground in Fruita, James M. Robb, is very spacious with tons of area between the rigs and hook-ups to boot. The tent camping facilities are also nice. This is a much better place to camp than Monument RV Park across the street, which is also more expensive. The campground is located a short distance from the local exit 19 motels in Fruita.

Day 8, April 19: Kokopelli Trails with Dave, Scott, Dan, Brian, Kevin, and Alex

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/KokopelliTrails

Alex arrived on the first flight in to Grand Junction from Denver in the morning. After breakfast, we headed out to the main Kokopelli trailhead for a ride. We went out to Moore Fun for the first singletrack. Becky and I did this trail at the end of long ride on a warmer and windier day last year. We did not enjoy our experience. It was a little easier with this year’s weather conditions, but I still did not enjoy this trail in this direction. It seriously lacks flow with a lot of dismounts making it hard to get into any sort of rhythm. The downhill portion also has enough dismounts to diminish the experience. Overall, our moving average speed for the whole trail was barely faster than walking at 4 mph. The other riders had a much more favorable view of “Less Fun”.

Unnamed rider on the Horsethief Bench drop in Fruita

Unnamed rider on the Horsethief Bench drop in Fruita

From the end of Moore Fun, we continued to Mary’s Trail to Steve’s connecting back to Mary’s. We spent a chunk of time watching a rider trying to ride the heinous rocky drop down to Horsethief Bench debating with to ride the loop. In the end, we decided to cut it short today and no one took my offer to by them dinner if they cleaned the rocky drop. I suspect that a much higher value offer would not have lured an attempt of this section. We continued back to the trailhead and ended just short of a two-hour ride time (3.5 hours overall).

Day 9, April 20: Tabeguache Area and Holy Cross in Grand Junction with Dave, Scott, Dan, Brian, Kevin, Mike, and Alex

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/HolyCross

We headed out to Grand Junction for the Holy Cross pilgrimage a day earlier than originally planned due to the rain forecasted for Saturday. After the usual difficulty finding the trailhead from Fruita,, we climbed up to Eagle’s Tail and climbed both Eagle’s Tail and Eagle’s Wing. These trails both wind through arid, rocky ridge-top terrain. They are quite technical with tons of exposure, good views, and are likely better in the direction opposite to the way we went (note for next time!). At the finish of Eagle’s Wing, we connected with Tabegauche Road, which we took to the left. Everyone cleaned the Widowmaker drop and proceeded to the Holy Cross trailhead. Holy Cross is a fast, swoopy singletrack punctuated by rocky technical sections that make for challenging climbs and drops. Nothing particularly life threatening, though it is quite possible to stray onto a line with a three foot drop if one is not careful and the ever present rocks and boulders would make for an unpleasant off bike excursion. There is amazing rock work and armoring on the trail and the construction and layout of the trail is first rate. A good time was had by all of the day’s riders. Holy Cross remains one of my favorite trails, anywhere.

Becky in Tabegauche

Becky in Tabegauche

Trail information, including maps, location, direction, and GPS stuff:

http://www.gjmountainbiking.com/gj/holycross.html

http://www.gjmountainbiking.com/gj/eagle.html

Day 10, April 21: Bookcliffs Area, Fruita with Dave, Brian, Dan, and Becky

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/Bookcliffs

The day dawned with the promise of rain, a promise that was soon fulfilled first with a drizzle and then with a steady rain. Anticipating the rain, Scott, Val, Kevin, and Alex left early, foregoing their planned ride to head back to the Bay.

In Fruita around 10:30, it looked like the rain was lessening and by noon the ride was on. We decided to head to the Bookcliffs area for the day’s festivities. None of us had ridden there yet, though it is certainly on the list of Best Fruita rides. We drove out following the detailed directions in the Fruita Fat Tire Guidebook (it is a little convoluted to get there without good directions). It is a short trip from the campground.

Becky on the most excellent Holy Cross Trail in Tabegauche

Becky on the most excellent Holy Cross Trail in Tabegauche

We started our ride by climbing up Prime Cut to Chutes and Ladders. Prime Cut is sweet little singletrack that winds in and out of drainages between the trees in the scrub pine forest. In this direction it climbs 300 to 400 feet. The trail conditions were excellent with no sign that it had rained. Dan was itching to descend this trail the rest of the day.

Becky on Eagle's Tail

Becky on Eagle's Tail Tabegauche

We decided to head up Chutes and Ladders next. Chutes and Ladders is a trail built by Troy Rarick (the owner of Over the Edge Bikes and patriarch of the Fruita trail scene) and his three-year-old son. The trail starts with a steep switch backy climb up the face of a knoll that will challenge the best of us. The trail continues in the knolls climbing up and dropping down (challenging both up and down) and then eventually turns into a ripping, narrow singletrack ribbon that winds it’s way through a prairie dog infested plain. It’s definitively a sweet trail when you are turning your big ring and going over 20 mph on a 8 inch wide path.

At the bottom of Chutes and Ladders, we reclimbed Prime Cut. This time, we continued past Chutes and Ladders and headed over to Joe’s Ridge. Joe’s Ridge starts with a short grunt of climb that takes you up to the spine of the ridge. The trail then descends the spine of the ridge weaving along in a ribbon. It is a technically easy, fast trail with interest achieved by the constant exposure from being on the spine of the ridge. Joe’s Ridge deposits its riders onto Kessel Run.

Becky on a drop

Becky on a drop

We next climbed Kessel Run with the notion that we would fulfill Dan’s wish to drop Prime Cut. Kessel Run, Brian informs us, comes from the original Star Wars in reference to how fast the Millennium Falcon did the run, perhaps a coincidence, or not. Kessel Run is a super swoopy singletrack band that winds in and out of the drainage. Sounds like Prime Cut, but it is swoopy to the limit of being swoopy. It also has good sight lines making a good choice both up hill and down. Overall, it is about a 300’ climb.

At the top, we had a change of heart and decided to blast down Kessel Run. Boy that went quick. I guess we passed a few folks along the way. It is hard to say, the downhill was pretty much a blur of banked turns and airs. Before we knew it, we were back in the parking lot making for a three-hour ride.

Overall, the riding in Bookcliffs hit the spot. It was a good change of pace from the rock bashing of the last few days. It was tons of fun. The good sight lines on the trails make it a good place for all levels of riders.

Airtine on Chutes and Ladders

Airtime on Chutes and Ladders in Bookcliffs in Fruita

For further reference, BLM camping is available in the area and looks like it could accommodate RV dry camping. Pit toilets are the only improvements available, that we could see. It is a good ride in, ride out mountain biking possibility.

Day 11, April 22: Tabegauche (pronounced Ta-ba-wash, more or less) with Dave, Brian, Dan, Becky, and Mike (Dan’s friend)

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/HolyCrossDay2

It was time to revisit Holy Cross with Becky in tow, or in the lead, depending on where we were. We met earlier at the trailhead as Becky and Brian were flying out in the evening.

Brian and Dan climbing Kessel Run.  Their descending pictures were too blurry to publish.

Brian and Dan climbing Kessel Run. Their descending pictures were too blurry to publish.

The route this time was designed so we could descend both Eagle’s Wing and Eagle’s Tail. We climbed up Kurt’s Lane out of the parking lot and the worked out way over to Tabegauche double track to the Eagle’s Wing connector we dropped previously. Climbing this way, we made it to the hill top and descended Eagle’s Wing and Tail. It was much more fun in this direction. At the intersection of Pet-E-Kes, we took Pet-E-Kes up the hill back to the Tabegauche doubletrack, which we climbed to the top of Holy Cross. Our Sunday Pilgrimage to Holy Cross was as good as the last and we continued down and retraced Kurt’s Lane to complete the ride.

We took Mike’s recommendation of Rockslide Brewery in the quaint downtown section of Grand Junction for an excellent post ride meal. Becky, at least, was easily able to make her flight out.

We are on to Moab tomorrow.

Panorama from Slickrock Trail

Panorama from Slickrock Trail

Today was a travel day with Dan and I heading to Moab. Originally, we planned on a short ride on arrival in Moab, but the weather did not cooperate. Instead it was time for a little R&R, which was complicated by getting trapped inside the trailer when the door latch failed. But that’s a story for another day.

Pictures from the drive over via the Cisco route:

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/OnToMoab

In any event, here’s some information relative to Fruita for anyone planning a visit.

Fruita Redux

This was our second visit to Fruita. This time, we got four days of riding in, but it is clear that there is an easy week or more of riding in the area, depending on how you slice things up (Kokopelli area—2 to 3 days, Bookcliffs—2 to 3 days, Tabegauche—2 to 3 days, and there are some other possibilities in the area, not to mentioned the new trails that are always popping up and the possibility of riding many of the trails in either direction.

The riding, in general, is very challenging with lots of rocks; often at pedal strike level, and plenty of exposure. The climbs tend to be modest in length and are technical. The exception is the Bookcliffs, were the treads tend to be smooth, and the slot car like singletrack ribbons are a nice contrast to the rocks of Kokopelli and Tabeguache. On a longer stay, we will certainly make sure we blend in the Bookcliffs to break up the riding.

Slickrock Trail, Moab

Slickrock Trail, Moab

The last two years we’ve come to Fruita right around, but not during, the Fat Tire Festival time. The weather has been good—this year it was cooler with some rain and last year it was on the warm side. This is a popular time for Fruita as it gets hotter later and is colder earlier. Missing the Fat Tire Festival does not mean totally missing the crowds. Lots of folks do what we have done and come just before or just after the Festival so the town fills up pretty well.

Places to stay:

Camping in Fruita is available at the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park, Fruita Section (where we stayed). The RV spots are large, there are hook ups, and the prices are moderate. Tent camping spots also look very attractive. It does book up.

Also available across the street is Monument RV Park where the RV’s are packed in like a parking lot and the surface is gravel (we stayed there last year). There are some rudimentary tent spots, wireless internet, and a hot tub/pool. It is more expensive than James. M. Robb.

The other camping area we noted is a BLM area in the Bookcliffs. This would make for a good ride in ride out destination, particularly if one wanted to ride The Edge—a long loop ride in the Bookcliffs area. The spots are first come first served (it was pretty full when we were there) and the only services are pit toilets and there is no fee that I’m aware of. I don’t think that water is available. It is a very scenic spot and it is a place we will consider for future visits.

Standard roadside rooms are available in the Fruita, exit 19 off of I-70 (near James M. Robb and Monument) and also in Grand Junction (10 or so miles away).

Dan on Soveriegn Trail in Moab

Dan on Soveriegn Trail in Moab

Travel:

The nearest airport is in Grand Junctions with connects through Denver and Salt Lake City (and probably more, like Phoenix). Fruita is on I-70 in Colorado, just across the border from Utah and near Moab.

Bike shop:

THE bike shop in Fruita is Over the Edge (OTE)–high-end bike shop with an espresso bar that will open to the street in warmer weather. This is Troy’s shop. Troy is one of the drivers behind the construction of the biker built trail system in Fruita that we all love.

Food:

Food is decent in Fruita. We ate at Fiesta Guadalajara (Mexican), Hot Tomato (pizza), and The Boneyard (brew pub) for dinner. Hot Tomato and The Boneyard both have free wireless internet where many of the posts were filed. We also had a good home-style breakfast at Judi’s (I think that’s correct). In Grand Junction, the Rockslide brew pub serves top rate beer and good food and is convenient to the end of a Tabeguache ride.

Other things to do:

The Colorado National Monument is nearby. We’ve never actually made it there, but it would be a good off day/rainy day choice. It is also a very popular road ride area, according to the locals who say the view from the top is spectacular.

Bookcliff links for reference:

http://ogrehut.com/trails.php/OutOfState/FruitaBookCliffs

http://www.gjmountainbiking.com/fruita.html

Another possible ride in the Virgin area:

A future option: http://www.utahmountainbiking.com/trails/slikswmp.htm

Views from Sovereign Trail

Views from Sovereign Trail

Moab

Day 13, April 25: Slickrock Trail, Moab with Dave and Dan

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/Moab

The classic Moab ride needs no introduction–just follow the dots. I’m sure most of you have been there. The climbs are longer than Gooseberry, but they tend to be technically easier. We like Gooseberry better, but this is still a great ride.

The last ride here was about 10 years ago, on rigid bikes, with Becky’s broken and pinned foot in a protective boot. And the other riders thought I was dragging her along on the ride! It was interesting to see so many new(er) riders on hard tails out on this trail. The cycle repeats itself.

Day 14, April 26: Porcupine Rim (PR), Moab with Dave and Dan

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/PorcupineRim

Another classic Moab ride, this time it was a first for Dave and the second time in a long time for Dan. Janet Finch popped by the trailer and it turned out that she and a bunch of her BC friends were planning on riding PR and were taking the same shuttle that we were, so that gave us some insight into the route. (We keep running into Janet—last year we saw her in the lift line at Whistler’s Bike Park.) We shuttled up from Chili Pepper’s Bike Shop, just across the street from Canyonland’s RV Park and next to the Moab Brewery (Moab DOES have its advantages). The 10 am shuttle was run by Coyote and used a modified VW van where a back half was added on to extend the length of the van. We were packed in for the ride up to the trailhead, so it was interesting to see whether the van would make it or not! (There are other shuttle companies in town—I think Poison Spider runs one, the prices are similar, the vans seem nicer, but the schedules aren’t as flexible).

Dan, surveying the land from the MPS trail, Moab

Dan, surveying the land from the MPS trail, Moab

We shuttled well past the Porcupine Rim Trailhead to LPS (Lower Porcupine Singletrack). The cost was $15 pp + $2 to enter the recreation area vs. $10 +$2 to go to the Porcupine Rim Trailhead. The shuttle takes more than 45 mins, most of the distance is past the PR Trailhead. UPS (Upper PS), MPS (Middle PS), and LPS are singletrack extensions on the top of Porcupine Rim that cut out most of the jeep road climb that Porcupine Rim, proper, starts out with. The trail joins Porcupine Rim Trail at the viewpoint at the end of the jeep road climb. Due to the road conditions, our shuttle stopped at the top of LPS and we rode up ¼ mile or so (0.4 mile on one odometer, second road to the left from the cattle guard) and took part of MPS to LPS to PR. With less moisture, it certainly would have been worth it to do UPS (I believe they will shuttle there if the conditions warrant it). MPS and LPS (LPS is a Finch creation) are windy singletracks that follow the Rim giving some exposure and great views. Jessie, the shuttle driver and owner of Coyote, recommended this route. The trails are reasonably technical with a few surprises making quick line picking advantageous. Overall, Dan and I agreed that these trails (LPS and MPS) vastly improved the PR ride experience and we wouldn’t consider doing the ride without including these portions. In fact, LPS/MPS could be viewed as the best segments of the ride.

From the viewpoint at the end of LPS, we took PR Trail. PR starts as jeep road. We separated from the Janet/BC group at this point figuring that our pace would be faster. Given that I had been trying to chase down Dan for the last week, I knew we would be cruising. For the limited few who have not ridden PR, the PR jeep road is a fast, rough, rocky, and sometimes sandy road with a bunch of slickrock ledges and the like with multiple lines. Even with 5 inches of travel on the bike, it was enough to shake the fillings loose in your mouth. This portion extends for several miles.

Janet on a greazy drop on LPS in Moab

Janet on a greazy drop on LPS in Moab

At the end of the jeep road, the trail turns to a classic desert singletrack that winds along the face of the bluff above Colorado River. There are a number of technical sections through rock with plenty of exposure to keep your attention from wandering. There are also a few unrideable sections by mere mortals along the way.

The singletrack section drops you to the road from Moab to Cisco that we drove in on. A fast spin through the canyon (about 6 miles), took us back to Dan’s motel to partake in his adult beverages and some chips and salsa.

Overall, PR is a good ride. Dave’s not sure that it lived up to the hype as one of the best rides around; Dan thinks it rates in the top category.

Meals:

Pasta Jay (good)

Moab Brewery (good)

Miguel’s (Mexican, good)

Slickrock Café (so, so, they seem to be struggling)

RV Park: Canyonlands, convenient, parking lot style; a good separate tent area (a ways from the facilities, though). Middle of the road showers/bathrooms.

Day 15, April 27: Sovereign Singletrack, Moab with Dave and Dan

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/Sovereign

A ride that came highly recommended to us is a new one in the Moab area—Sovereign Singletrack. After the trailer was moved from the RV lot and Nick was secured inside, we headed 14 miles north of Moab to the trailhead. A second blurb is included for trailhead finding and some trail finding help. The trail system has a number of loop possibilities and options making for some trail finding confusion. What we did was what appears to be the standard and most popular out and back, though we seem to have done it from the opposite direction than most.

After leaving the parking lot on Dalton Wells road, we rode 2.7 miles along the main road (see notes) to the start of the singletrack. At this point, there is a left and right singletrack option. The left trail option, recommended by Janet, proceeds up the wash to the left. We opted instead for the more commonly consumed singletrack option to the right, leaving the wash for a later day. The right option starts as an old jeep road that has been narrowed by landslides. The trail climbs quickly up the side of the hill with a sweeping left turn. At the top (around 4800 feet, the trail starts around 4400 feet, indicated), the fun begins. At this point the trail covers slickrock and rock slab drops with some connecting dirt sections. The trail winds up and down a couple of ridges working its way to the trailhead on the jeep trail on the other side (this trailhead appears to be the most popular entrance and might make easier trail finding—ask in Moab). It is about 8 miles from trailhead to trailhead.

The aesthetic character of the trail itself is similar to Gooseberry. The Navajo sandstone is roughly the same color as Gooseberry as compared to the red tinge of Slickrock Trail. The frequent trail features tend to be manageable with a couple of walkers, but mostly the challenges are linked together with good flow in between. The trail is quite different in both directions, making the out and back attractive (though it does increase traffic). It is a trail that makes you feel like you are going generally downhill in both directions. That’s always a good thing. The trail is also quite exposed. It was around 70o F and it was starting to feel warm. If it were around 80, it would have been uncomfortable.

Dan and I have been discussing our preferences for the trails in Moab that we’ve ridden on the visit. Dan is a Porcupine Rim fan followed by Sovereign (I think) and then Slickrock. I guess I’d put the trails in the opposite order. My choice of Slickrock over Sovereign is largely based on the unique experience that Slickrock Trail has to offer to an outsider. If I lived in Moab, I would probably be riding Sovereign more frequently.

http://www.utahmountainbiking.com/trails/sovergn.htm (includes some trail finding information)

http://www.discovermoab.com/biking.htm (scroll down)

Trail Finding info:

A GPS is useful. The numbers reflect the slides.

http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/SovereignTrailFinding

  1. North on 191 out of Moab about 14 miles take Dalton Wells Rd on the right park in the cottonwood grove (1 in Sovereign trail finding slides). N 38o 42.753’ W 109o 41.955’
  2. Go past the gate. It is about 2.7 miles to the single track. Continue on the main road.
  3. You’ll come to a fork with a trail description sign. You do NOT want the left fork.
  4. The right fork is what you want. N 38o 43.581’ W 109o 40.788’
  5. You will go by a wash with some bike tracks. There’s a continuation of the trail back in there—this is Janet’s recommendation. We did not go this way.
  6. We continued on this way.
  7. You’ll come to a four way intersection marked with a sign. The wash trail that we did NOT take is on the left (shown in the picture). N 38o 44.151’ W 109o 39.820’
  8. Another view of the wash.
  9. The trail we took and the sweeping climb up the hill.
  10. The continuation of the road we were on. You don’t want to go this way.
  11. The road we came in on, viewed from the four way intersection.
  12. Just to give you some trail finding pleasure of your own. At N 38o 44.118’ W 109o 39.870’ there’s another junction in between the parking lot and the start of the singletrack that I omitted. I think we took the right fork here, though I’m not 100% from the pictures. Take the non-Copper Ridge Fork. I bet you wish you bought that GPS now, ehh?
  13. Not this way?
  14. We went this way?

Trip Redux

Dan stayed on in Moab for another day of riding. Nick and I headed back after the end of Thursday’s ride after another good trip. It will take my legs awhile to recover after chasing Dan and others over the hills for the last week or so. This will be the last report filed for this trip.

So, you’ve got a week to ride, where do you want to go? All of the locations offer good riding. My preference, for riding, is Virgin>Fruita>Moab, but I’m sure everyone is different. For the town “vibe” it would go Moab>Fruita>>Virgin. They are all good options. Too bad you have to make a choice!

Dave’s Best Of, trail choices:

  1. Gooseberry Mesa (no surprise), Virgin
  2. Holy Cross, Grand Junction
  3. Sovereign Trail, Moab
  4. Guacamole, Virgin
  5. Slickrock, Moab
  6. Joe’s Ridge (Fruita)
  7. Chutes and Ladders, Fruita
  8. Porcupine Rim
  9. Kessel Run
  10. JEM Virgin

It is interesting to look over the list as all of the trails, except for Slickrock and Porcupine Rim, were built by cyclists for cyclists. Hum, I think there’s something there.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] An account of a previous riding trip to Virgin is here. […]

    Pingback by Little Creek Mesa « Another Header — April 24, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

  2. […] A prior trip report can be found here. […]

    Pingback by Gooseberry Mesa 2010 « Another Header — April 25, 2010 @ 10:16 pm


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