You may have already noticed, but in case you somehow missed the memo, Spring has officially sprung here in Grand Junction. The days are getting longer, the temperatures are getting warmer, and after an exceptionally heavy year for snow, the trails are drying out. You know what that means; mountain bikers are gearing up.
The Grand Junction area is coveted nationally due to the breadth of trail connectivity for hundreds of miles, literally. If you haven’t earned your stripes on iconic desert slick rock trails like Horsethief Bench Loop, Zippity Do Da, or the famed and feared Ribbon Trail, then there is no better time to plan your trip out to Grand Junction. There is plenty to discover here, so you might as well treat yourself to a three-day weekend.
Photo courtesy of @dustinnere
Start out in the heart of Grand Junction’s biking country, the Lunch Loops. Just three miles from Downtown Grand Junction, Lunch Loops gets its name for being so close locals can hop over for a ride on their lunch break. Trails spider web all over the landscape here, creating unmatched trail connectivity. While known for its technical rides like the Ribbon, Gunny Loop, and Holy Cross, you can also find more tame trails like Kids Meal and Ali Alley Loop. Whatever your riding style is, you can find the trails here to easily spend an hour or an entire day.
No matter how much time you spend here, the epic riding in Lunch Loops will leave you hungry for more. It will also leave you just plain old hungry. Stop in at Handlebar on your way back into town. Located right off Monument Road, you have to pass this cyclist hot spot anyways so you might as well treat yourself to a much-deserved reward. Just like Lunch Loops has a trail for everyone, Handlebar has a beer for everyone with over 20 brews on tap. With signature burgers, sandwiches, loaded fry plates, and an outdoor patio, it’s a perfect spot to brag about your adventure with the friendly locals – and they’ll be happy to share their favorite trails with you as well.
Get an early start on day two and head west to the Kokopelli Trails, right of I-70 exit 15. As far as scenic locations go, you’ll have a hard time beating Kokopelli. Here, spectacularly crafted trails cruise along dramatic cliffs and benches, all overlooking the mighty Colorado River. Mary’s Loop is the main trail artery here, with several stunning loops that start and finish here. This allows you to keep connecting loops until your legs just can’t go anymore.
Rustler’s Loop is a great option for those who are looking for a friendly introduction to the riding in this area with terrain easy enough to be ridden by anyone, but plenty of optional features to keep even the most technical riders smiling from ear to ear. Horsethief Bench Loop is a more challenging local favorite. The scenic views will compete for your attention against the steep drops, rocky moves, and twisting single track. Mack Ridge and Moore Fun are both difficult options that will challenge even the best of riders.
Any biker worth their salt will tell you that if you don’t stop in for a bite at the Hot Tomato after biking in Fruita, you didn’t really go biking in Fruita. Epic trails and hot pizza from this long-standing local favorite go hand in hand, and on almost any given weekend there are enough bikes in front of the Hot Tomato to make it look like an actual bike shop. The bar is stocked with beer from local breweries and will keep you refreshed after some hard-earned loops.
After two days of pushing your legs to the max, you’ve earned a break. It’s time to let a chairlift do all the heavy lifting. Powderhorn Mountain Resort transforms from a winter wonderland to a downhill mountain bike playground in the summer. Powderhorn’s high-speed quad will get you and your bike to the top of the mountain, then trails covering over 1,500 hundred feet of decent will launch you towards the base, whooping all the way.
While many ski resorts offer downhilling in the summer, Powderhorn is the place to go to avoid the crowds and lift lines, making sure you maximize your time on the bike. Mutton Buster is a great option for riders of any skill level. The trail winds back and forth down the mountain and is gentle enough to allow beginners to find their rhythm. Those with the need for speed can add the optional jumps, drops, bumps, and roots to their run. Pinball Alley, on the other hand, will have riders bouncing around like, well… a pinball. This steep, fast, and rocky decent will put your suspension, and your nerves, to the test.
After you’re done riding for the day, or just in between laps, the Powderhorn Pub is the ideal spot to stop for some grub. Not only are the drinks cold, and the food satisfying, but you can’t beat the location. Powderhorn Pub is 50 feet from the base of the chairlift, and the large patio provides stunning panoramic views of the Grand Mesa.
When you arrive home and start to reminisce about your three days of riding bliss, keep in mind that you’ve only scratched the surface of Grand Junction’s mountain biking. While three days might not have been enough to experience all Grand Junction has to offer, it was certainly enough time to understand what makes this area so epic for riders from across the country. Tune up your bike and we’ll see you again soon!
Find more mountain bike trails starting on page 8 of the Grand Junction Adventure Guide.