It’s spring here on the Western Slope of Colorado and that means bikers. Lots and lots and lots of bikers. Bikers are great! There are festivals and campgrounds filled with tents; the Hot Tomato and other pizzarias and restaurants do a booming business and bike companies rent, guide, and shuttle happy mountain bikers day-after-day.

Still, lots of bikers means lots of crowds on the trails too. Now, if you’re social and feel like making friends, then by all means head out to Loma for Horsethief Bench or Mary’s loop, or over to 18 Road for a trip up Prime Cut. However, if you’re just looking for some solitude, you might check out one of the trails below. In my opinion these are all fun trails that are way less crowded – even in the spring.

Western Rim Trail

My first choice for biking, if I have all day to ride, is the Western Rim trail in Rabbit Valley. We drive out to the McDonald Creek trailhead instead of parking in the very first main lot and we ride our bikes up the Kokopelli road to start our trip. You don’t have to bike UP trail #2, but it is fun to come down it at the end! This is a super scenic ride with lots of swooping singletrack along a rim overlooking the Colorado River. It’s shared with dirt bikers but is still less-crowded than better known trails. Distances vary but it will take you about 3 hours (depending on speed and photo stops) to ride.

Western Rim alternates from patches of rock to singeltrack along the rim.

Views of the Colorado River all are yours from this trail.

Lunch Loop/Tabeguache

If I don’t have quite as much time but still want to get in a good cross-country ride in, I head to Lunch Loop/Tabeguache. While the parking lot might give you the impression that this place is crowded, there are so many options that after the initial climb, everyone spreads out. For the climb up we usually take Pet-y-Kes or the main trail up. Some options I like that tend to shrink the crowds include High Noon to Coyote Ridge to the Miramonte area, which can be handled by intermediate riders (with some walking) or, for more advanced riders, Holy Cross. I may have to walk some sections, but it won’t be crowded!

Mack Ridge

If we’re just craving Loma trails, we’ll head out to Mack Ridge. We like to ride UP Mack Ridge and down Lion’s Loop, but you can do either. Some recent singletrack additions to Mack Ridge make it super appealing for me right now. It’s technical but the views are spectacular! From the same trailhead you could skip the masses on Mary’s and just ride down to Steve’s Loop for a nice (mostly) intermediate ride too.

After a portage on Mack Ridge, stop to check out the vistas and views of other Loma trails below you.

18 Road Trails

18 Road is always going to be crowded in the spring. Still, two new trails have been built, one by Prime Cut and one over off of Zippity Do Dah. Prime Cut, the main “up” trail, is going to be crowded, but just pull over and let the faster people by and continue on your way. If you head up Chutes and Ladders you’ll lose a lot of the crowd in a hurry!

The “ladders” at the beginning of Chutes and Ladders will definitely test your lung capacity!

The end of the Chutes and Ladders trail takes you through wide open meadows.

There’s nothing wrong with making new friends on the trails, but sometimes you just want a little peace and quiet. These trails will give you that this spring in Fruita.

# Comments

  • trek7k

    I haven’t ridden Fruita in years – sounds like there’s twice as much singletrack as the last time I visited! If it’s not too hot I may just have to get over to Fruita while we’re in Colorado this summer…

  • mtbikerchick

    There are SO many trails! Between the 18 road additions this year, Loma, and the ever-expanding Lunch Loop you can ride for a month without riding the same loop twice!

  • mtbgreg1

    Wow. I was hoping to spend a half a day in Fruita riding 18 road on my way to California, but it sounds like even if I spend a full day I won’t even be able to ride all that 18 road has to offer, much less everything else in the area!

    I’m going to be sad to skip over these trails 🙁 guess that means I need to start planning for a visit NEXT summer 😉

    Great read!

  • mtbikerchick

    @mtbgreg – Ditto @maddslacker! Or hey, at least when you come to town look us up so we can take you to the Hot Tomato 🙂

  • skibum

    Very helpful article–you hit one option in each of the four main riding areas that surround singletrack Mecca. Thanks for sharing some quality local info.

    I would add the following:

    For the Rabbit Valley Area, Westwater Mesa is comparable to Western Rim and provides yet another option. There will be a few motos on weekends, but you can do 20+miles on a weekday and never see another soul.

    For the Lunch Loops Area–it’s worth throwing in a road ride or shuttle to the top of the Ribbon trail to start your day. The Ribbon is unique, fun and challenging and should be doen at least once. My favorite route is down The Ribbon to Andy’s or Eagles, back up Pet-e-Kes to Holy Cross (the best!) and a finish on Miramonte to Kurt’s.

    For the 18 Road area, if you’re a little tight on time or don’t want to fight the crowds or take the dirt road to get out to Mack Ridge, Moore Fun is also less crowded and immediately accessible. However, this is only a good option if you like lots of low-speed techy maneuvering.

  • mtbikerchick

    Moore fun is at Loma, not 18 road, but I agree, those are excellent choices! Moore fun is a little too techy for me but I know there are people who enjoy it. I’ve been wanting to try Westwater Mesa…how is it?

  • skibum

    Thanks for catching my carelessness before anybody got steered wrong–I meant Loma of course.

  • skibum

    I thought Westwater Mesa was great. It feels (and is) very remote and, off-weekend, you’re truly on your own, so it’s a good place to be self-sufficient (lots of water, energy food, tools/tubes and the expertise to use them required). It does have lots of sandy spots that can be an energy drain, but the really cool ST portions more than make up for it. Given its remoteness and the sand, it does tend to feel longer than it is and you thing you’re rounding the last corner before the trailhead about four times before you actually are. There’s a couple excellent photo ops along the way (like getting a pic of someone riding over a natural arch) There’s also a couple spots where route findng can be an issue if you’re not paying attention.

    Bottom line, it doesn’t have the same “fun around every bend” feel that Kessel, HC, or Horsethief does, but it’s still a very rewarding ride if you’re reasonably fit and have an adventurous spirit. I couldn’t imagine spending a lot of time in Fruita and not adding it to my riding resume.

  • stillfat

    If you really want to lose the crowds in Fruita, just wait ’til June and you’ll have the place to yourself. There’s a pretty nice window between the Spring crowds and really hot weather to take advantage of. Even if you go mid summer, you can always bang out a bunch of biking before 10am and you’ll be just fine. Or, follow the advice in the initial post – I rode the Western Rim at the end of March when 18 Rd. was a zoo and didn’t see a soul. As for a half-day on 18 Rd., I’d say four hours would be enough to spin wheels on most of the good stuff – the trails aren’t long save the Edge Loop, etc.

  • mtbgreg1

    @stillfat, cool thanks for the beta. I can’t wait to check it out!

  • Danno#1

    Fruita is a definite destination hot spot. Some of the best high desert riding you can find.
    Here is a vid edit of 18 Road trails I put together from Sept. last year -http://www.pinkbike.com/video/223999/

  • rcraft6826

    I definitely feel thankful for living just a few short hours away from this awesome mountain biking oasis!!

  • Bubblehead10MM

    I just can’t wait to ride in the area, that may take some doing for me. I think I’ll want people around though, I’m not up to going alone to far from civilization.

  • mtbikerchick

    Never fear @Bubblehead, there are always people out on the trails! Give a shout if you ever need a guide 🙂

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