Mountain Biking in Fruita and Moab – The Desert Awaits!
Colorado’s Western Slope is a mountain biking paradise, featuring some of the most iconic and famed trails in the West. Riding alongside the Colorado River, bikers explore desert-like Western landscapes including towering red rock canyons, quaint and eccentric towns and colorful local characters. Fruita and Moab are towns that know what they’re about. Biking isn’t a hobby here; it’s a lifestyle, and these two cities, separated by the 140-mile beloved Kokopelli Trail, make up some of the best continuous mountain biking trails in the world.
Moab and Fruita excel in the early and late seasons, when the desert temperature is cooler and mild, making for longer days on the trail and drier climates. Set in the desert of the Western Slope of Colorado and Southeast Utah, the landscape here is made of towering red rock spires, deep canyons cut by the mighty Colorado River, and the dry riverbeds and streams of an ancient ocean. The local communities have worked tirelessly to establish trails that are unique only to this area, taking bikers through picturesque canyon country, and trails that awe, inspire, and thrill.
There are trails here for every level of rider, from first time biker, to some of the most challenging drops in the West. What every trail shares in common is how spectacularly beautiful each location is, from the winding canyons of Horsethief and Mary’s Loop in Fruita to the rim trails of Porcupine Rim and Poison Spider Trails in Moab. Each trail has it’s own individual charm, and suits riders who might be looking for a fun and mellow trail, or something that has tight curves and steep drops.
How do these two-bike fanatic towns stack up to each other and what makes the Kokopelli Trail so beloved?
Set on the edge of Colorado National Monument, Fruita is Colorado’s quintessential bike town. It’s not just the trails. The entire town, from the street-poles to the pizza shop, is decorated in gears, bike parts, and eccentric accouterments. Head just outside of town, up along the Upper Colorado River, and you’ll reach the trailhead for Horsethief Loop, one of the most famous trails in the Western United States.
Horsethief Loop starts with a long mellow climb to the top of the canyon, looking over the Colorado River, as the trail winds thrown sickly groves of spindly trees, desert sage, and prickly pears. Not too far from the trailhead, bikers intersect with Horsethief Bench; a series of platform benches that descend to the trails below. Most people will hike-a-bike at this point, but those brave enough to keep control will ride it, while their professional contract is waiting for them to sign at the bottom.
After exiting the benches, riders weave through the trails of the lower valley, following the canyon walls bikes drift through dry creek beds and rocky ledges. This thrilling section of trail takes bikes weaving through tight corners, spindly forests, and breathtaking open canyon scenery as bikers ride surrounded by walls on both sides. Intersecting back to the benches, bikers then walk back up to the top of the junction and then can choose to join with Steve’s and Wranglers Loops, which ride precarious trails at the top of the canyon and rejoin with the main trail that loops back around to the trailhead. With it’s winding trails and unique scenery, it’s one of the core Fruita classics.
Just outside of the main downtown area is 18 Road, a dry desert basin with access to many fun and flowing trails that start with long uphill rides and big drops in a bike-park like setting of tight curves, long downhill sections, and open desert scenery. For those who are looking for more technical riding on world class trails, riders will enjoy such fast riding trails as Kessel Run and the Zippity Loop, which feature rolling hills, high ridges and steep descents.
After riding, head into the town of Fruita to take in its eclectic nature, enjoying the local breweries and visiting the world-famous Hot Tomato pizzeria, which was built by bikers, for bikers, and is a legendary stop in this whimsical little town.
Check out our Guided Fruita Mountain biking Trips here!
Moab Mountain Biking Trips and Trails
Moab was built to be an adventure town, with easy access to hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting. Its proximity to two national parks makes it a paradise for all types of adventurers from beginner to professional. The mountain biking here is among some of the most renown in the world, with slickrock-petrified sand dunes that grip tires like nowhere else. With legendary trails like the Sand Flats Recreation Area, the Whole Enchilada, with it’s thrilling canyon rim trails, and Klondike Bluff, riders can either ride single sections or can opt to combine trails into thrilling loops that bring bikers to some of the most world-class biking terrain in the west.
What makes Moab legendary is its access and varied trail types. Easier-going riders may opt for rolling rides that traverse the dunes of the open BLM land, while those looking for thrills will take in some of the steepest drops alongside the Colorado River. Many of the trails, such as Poison Spider, follow 4×4 jeep roads through deep canyons; narrow rim-side trails, and rocky, unpredictable territory, which demand the best in concentration and skill for many bikers.
Easier-going and beginner riders would enjoy more open rides, including Sidewinder, Klondike Bluff, and Monitor and Merimac Trails, which feature more flowing and less intense trails than the challenging 4×4 rides. Each has their own thrills and charm, so even beginner riders don’t feel like they’re missing out.
Kokopelli Trail – Guided Kokopelli Mountain Bike Tours
The legendary 140-mile trail that connects Fruita and Moab is the Kokopelli Trail, which starts on the Horsethief Trail and rides around the La Sal Mountains, following a mix of jeep roads, single and double track, sand and concrete to reach the city of Moab. Named for the mythical muse, the trail includes steep technical climbs, thrilling descents, and low-grade terrain. Described as riding on the surface as Mars, much of the terrain is wide-open red rock, with canyons, mountains, and mesas seemingly always in the distance. Riders start by following Mary’s Loop in Fruita to Rabbit Valley and then following long tracts of road into the dry desert landscape of Southeast Utah. For much of the route, riders are following the Colorado River, and camping nearby. Along the way there are two climbs that top at just over 8400-feet and a final run through the Porcupine Rim Trail brings riders into the city of Moab.
This ultra-classic bike-packing ride will test strength and endurance, and is for riders who are looking for a true Western adventure. The total trail takes approximately 4 to 5 days to complete depending on the fitness of the rider. When talking about the extraordinary rides of the West, this is the one to do.
Check out our guided Kokopelli Trail Adventure here!
Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides are experts on riding the Western Slope including Fruita, Moab, and the Kokopelli Trail. Call 720 242 9828 to book your adventure today!