We live in Salt Lake City, which is arguably one of the best cities in the world to be a mountain biker. We have Park City, the worlds only gold rated mountain bike area according to IMBA just 30 minutes away, and are 4 hours from the Hurricane/Gooseberry Mesa areas, Moab, and Fruita, CO. It’s a good day to be a mountain biker in SLC.
When Jacob, Scott, Katie, and I were trying to come up with a bike trip plan for the weekend, at least one of us had biked in all of the other areas, leaving us with Fruita as the logical choice.
We took off after work on Friday and got down there late Friday night to find out there was a race going on so the campground at 18 Road was packed. No problem, armed with my handy map and absolutely no knowledge of the area, we took off toward BLM land in an attempt to find a place to camp. Luckily as soon as you leave the designated restricted camping area, there were plenty of places to set up camp with a few people already there for the weekend. We set up late that night, had a few beer and called it a night since we had a long ride planned for Saturday.
Awaking Saturday to stunning views of red rock mountains all around us that we couldn’t see in the dark driving in, we made breakfast and headed for the Lunch Loops trail system. We wanted to check out this trail system as there is a race held annually that we were interested in doing some day.
We started out at the northern-most Trailhead and hopped on Tabagauche for the ride out. Tabagauche is hard to say and remember and was affectionately referred to Tabagooch, Tomagochy, and “The Gooch.” We are by no means good mountain bikers, but we do mountain bike quite a bit and this was some hard riding. Compared to the trail rankings in Moab or Park City, I would say add a level of difficulty to whatever the Fruita trails are ranked and that’s your true difficulty (we have ridden hard trails from the Crest in PC to the Whole Enchilada in Moab). Tabagooch was a tough climb up with many sharp rises and a section called Widdowmaker Hill that seemed all but impossible to bike up, much less down.
Scott and I then rode back on the Gunny Loop, which was a fantastic ride, and easier in my opinion, than much of Tabagooch. We had an absolute blast on the nice flow-y trail with fun technical sections and fast dirt downhill. Katie and Jake headed back on Tabagooch then down Pet-E-Kes, which they also thought was fantastic and did a few loops on it. We were sold on Fruita, the riding was stout, but a ton of fun and we would definitely go back to The Lunch Loops next time we’re in town. That being said, the race we were looking at doing is up to a 40 mile loops, and after doing just 11 miles, I can confidently say that would be a brutal race!
Later that afternoon after returning to camp and recovering for a moment, we took off on the 18 Road trail system, also called the North Fruita Desert (not sure which is correct), from our camp. We rode North up Western Zippity to Frontside and then got on Zippity Do Da. This was an AWESOME trail that follows a thin ridge downhill.
It was less technical than anything we saw at Lunch Loops and was very smooth, flow-y dirt. Pretty beat from the day, we headed back to camp for the night.
Or so we thought! Scott and I got courageous later that night and I wanted to try out my new bike light I bough off Amazon and compare it to Scott’s real bike light from Backountry. Surprisingly the $25 light fared pretty well! The beam pattern definitely isn’t as wide as the quality light, but it does put out a ton of light and I was able to ride in complete darkness on single track. We had a fun ride, no one crashed, and we made it back to camp for what was a very hot night in the desert for May.
The next day, we decided to go to the Kokopelli Trail System with the intent to ride the Horsethief Bench Loop which is widely considered the best trail in Fruita (from what we found anyway). I can confirm, it was one of the best rides of my life. We parked at the Kokopelli Trialhead and took Mary’s Loop to the Horsethief Bench Loop which starts off with a brutally steep and rocky decent with 3+ foot drops marked as “hike a bike” on most maps. Then you’re greeted with flowing single track overlooking the Colorado River with some fun technical features and amazing flow. We all agreed it was one of the best trails we’ve ever ridden. It was blast and had us wanting to ride it again. However time was of the essence as we still had to drive back to SLC, so we settled on heading back to the car on the Wrangler Loop which was also a fun trail.
Overall we had a great weekend, and would definitely recommend you go to Fruita like right now if you’re a mountain biker. Seriously what are you doing not in the car and on your way yet? Go! We will definitely be back soon as we felt the riding was as good, if not better than Moab. With great trails does come a lot of people and the trails were far from desolate, but it was never an issue and we still had a great time. Remember the trail ratings are stout too!
If you want to see more riding, check out the video we have thanks to Jake’s GoPro!