Loma, CO – July 26, 2012
Yesterday Tyler and I stopped at Over the Edge Sports in Fruita. We rented two mountain bikes for our ride today. The brand of the bikes was Rocky Mountain. Each one retailed for US$2,400. The rental price included two bikes, one helmet (Tyler already had his), two emergency kits, and damage insurance on each bike.
The man that fitted the bikes to us suggested we drive just west of Fruita to the Kokopelli Trails near Loma, Colorado. We bought a trail map from him. He said we would probably enjoy the trail called Rustler’s Loop.
Tyler and I got up today at about 05:30 and were on the road at about 05:45. Tyler was the driver. Our destination was the parking area for the Kokopelli trails, about eight miles west of Fruita, Colorado.
We drove through Fruita and got onto Interstate-70 West. We were heading to exit 15. Shortly after getting on the Interstate, detour barricades moved us over to the eastbound side. Road resurfacing work of the westbound lanes caused the exit at mile marker 15 to close. So, we had to continue to exit 11. We got off at exit 11, drove across the Interstate, and then headed back east on a small dirt road that roughly paralleled the Interstate. Ultimately, we made it to the Kokopelli parking area. It is a nicely appointed area, complete with an extensive dirt parking area, some covered picnic tables, and some toilet facilities.
We took the bikes out of the back of Tyler’s truck, placed the water bottles on the bikes, donned the day pack, and we hit the trail. From the parking area, we had to ride up and over a small ridge. Then it was downhill on a small dirt road to the secondary parking area. The trailhead we wanted, Rustler’s Loop, actually began at that secondary parking area.
One of the parking areas for the Kokopeli Trails is at the bottom of this valley.One of the maps we had stated the following about the trail:
- Rustler’s Loop – 3.4 Miles – Easy – This trail is a great practice/warm-up loop for beginners and intermediates. Ride the trail clockwise starting up the DT road to the single tracks. You may access the trail from the main parking lot or drive up and over the hogback and park right next to the trail. (Easy)
There are 11 other trails one can access in this Kokopelli system. We had seen a video in the store yesterday of one of the challenging routes, Moore Fun. I am not sure I would even try to walk that trail. I know for a fact I would not ride that trail. I will leave that to my friends Jesus and Charlie from Madrid.
Both parking lots are at roughly 4,000 feet elevation. Most of Rustler’s Loop is on top of a mesa which rises to nearly 4,600 feet. That meant the first part of the trail went straight up. Luckily that part was a one-lane dirt road.
A rock formation alongside one of the Kokopeli Trails.
Once we made it to the top of the mesa, I stopped to take some photos…and wheeze! This Kokopelli area is just a little way, maybe seven or eight miles, west of the Colorado National Monument. So, many of the rock formations are similar to what I saw in the Monument on July 23.
Regardless, I think the views at Kokopelli were just stunning. One thing that is very different when comparing the two areas is the Colorado River; it runs alongside many of the Kokopelli trails.
After a few photos and catching our breath, we continued on the trail which had now become a single, narrow track. All of the trails are on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, so the trails are very well marked. Periodically at least on Rustler’s Loop, there were small signs with tips on how to ride the trail. The path was dirt. It alternated between very fine, hard-packed sand, river rock (round stones up to the size of my fist), and sections of sandstone. There were only a couple of spots where we (beginners) thought we had to walk. On top of the mesa there were some slight elevation changes, but nothing like the first part of the trail.
We finally made it to the edge of the Colorado River. We got off of the bikes and sat on a couple of rocks on the cliff overlooking the river. I estimate we were 80 to 100 feet above the river. It was so relaxing. We sat there for probably 20 minutes. We were directly across from a point in the river where a small segment of the river moved closer to the south edge of the canyon. Where it split away from the main river, the bed was much shallower. That caused the familiar gurgling sound of water. Even though we were quite high and on the opposite side of the river we could still very distinctly hear the sound. At one point, I asked Tyler why hearing water is so soothing to humans. He did not know. I do not know either.
Our first view of the Colorado River.
After that long rest, we got back on the bikes and continued along the trail. We did stop a couple more times so I could take some photos. The sunlight in the early morning makes everything look so much more vivid.
The last quarter-mile or so was not challenging at all, even for us. At that point, the single track became a one-lane dirt road again. We coasted down to the secondary parking area. From there, we rode up the road until the grade became too steep for an old, fat man. We walked to the top of the hogback and then coasted to the main parking lot.
A red rock formation.
After loading the bikes, Tyler drove us back to Fruita so we could turn in the bikes. We got back before the bike shop opened, probably about 08:45 or so. We decided to relax at the Aspen Street Coffee Company. It is directly across the street from the bike shop.
We both got a coffee and Tyler got a blueberry muffin. We sat in front at a sidewalk table and just chilled. While we had our coffee, I decided to walk back to the truck to get my camera. I took a few photos of the downtown area, including the Mike the Headless Chicken sculpture. One can click on the hotlink to read more about Mike.
Mike the Headless Chicken sculpture in Fruita, Colorado.
Once we finished our coffee, we unloaded the bikes and returned them. While we were in the store, I bought each of us a t-shirt as a souvenir.
As we were leaving the bike shop, I suggested we go to Judy’s Diner to have breakfast. That may not have been the best idea. I think any gains I may have made health-wise on Rustler’s Loop were soon canceled out by the breakfast burrito I had at Judy’s! The burrito was the size of a small motor home. I don’t think I will need to eat again until Friday — night!