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White Ridge Trail System - Main Loop

 4.4 (79)
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Map Key

8.4 Miles 13.5 Kilometers



803' 245 m


-801' -244 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (9°)

6,019' 1,834 m


5,542' 1,689 m


Shared By LeeAB Brinckerhoff


Minor Issues 7 days ago
Some Mud History

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Sweet singletrack loop on a gypsum formation with stellar (stark) scenery.

LeeAB Brinckerhoff

Bureau of Land Management Treasures

One of the Bureau of Land Management's "Backyard to Backcountry" treasures, this trail was developed between the Friends of Otero MTB and the Rio Puerco, NM BLM office to provide world-class riding experiences.

Check out the top 20 BLM Backyard to Backcountry rides!

Dogs Unknown

Features -none-


This trail was developed with mountain biking in mind and is sure to please. Fast sections of singletrack follow the ridge lines, descents take in fun terrain, and beautiful rocky desert scenery is everywhere you turn. While much of the trail is not too technical, it's narrow enough to hold your attention.

There are a few climbs that grind up a wide gravel road though they are short. In places the trail is getting a bit deep so be careful - catching your front tire on the edge unexpectedly could have bad consequences.

Need to Know

While not particularly technical, White Ridge stands out in the Albuquerque area for vertical exposure. True hazard is limited in most sections--it would take a concerted effort to fly off into oblivion. But the Marker 16 spur and the Marker 17 to trailhead section are notable exceptions. And catching a pedal on the uphill side of the trail should be avoided everywhere because it can launch you off the trail. On the other hand, there is abundant psychological exposure, the sense that there is a whole lot of nothingness on one or both sides of the trail. The northern parts of Dragon's Back especially. If heights are a concern, check out the first part of Dragon's where the inner valley yawns to your right. If riding along this makes you nervous, it is just going to get worse. Consider other sections or walking your bike to keep the excitement in your comfort zone.


There is a good trail map at the trailhead. The trail junctions are numbered and out on the trail each junction has a numbered post with a downsized version of the map. The following description is keyed to these marker posts.

Start by riding up the road, then go up a climb with a few "baby" steps near the top to marker 2. At the top of the climb, you'll curve around to the left on the road to marker 3 until you can head left on a nice singletrack along the ridge line: this is Dragon's Back.

There are several gradual climbs and descents along the ridge and some exposed riding where the trail cuts along the hillside. Eventually a sharp drop leads to a notch (marker 4) where a CO2 pipeline was cut through the ridge. There is a trail leading down left off of the ridge to the road. If you have had enough of Dragon's Back, this is a good bailout point that will bypass the steep section to the north. Otherwise to continue onward, you'll need to climb up a short section carrying your bike.

Once you're up the climb, grind up the road on top. At the top of the climb, wonder out loud why you carried your bike up that climb. As you descend from the high point, notice the singletrack that cuts off to the right, take it and rejoice. Tight curves lead through the lumpy terrain as you lose elevation until the trail drops down a long ramp that finishes with some sharp rollers.

Traverse some very steep slopes to get down off the nose of Dragon's Back. At this point (marker 6) you'll be on a road with Hwy 550 across the Rio Salado.

You'll understand at this point why riding Dragon's Back north to south is less popular.

Follow the road that you were deposited on for a hundred yards or so around the nose of the ridge, keeping an eye out for the singletrack that starts to the right at marker 7.

Fast, flat singletrack leads back in the direction from which you came and eventually rejoins the road (marker 8) for a short distance before moving off to the left and climbing up through an area of spring activity (geology marker).

Aside from the climb, this bit is relatively mellow with not much to get excited about other than the views.

Eventually, a short loose slope ends in another notch or saddle. Between marker 10 and 11 you have the option of road or trail. The trail is steep with red rock and an interesting sinkhole. On the road you'll face some loose sand if you don't hold your line while climbing.

Once at the top of the climb (marker 12) the route divides. To the right is a road that comes from "Central Spine" which is best ridden downhill. So go left to Good Times instead.

Good Times is braided road and singletrack. The singletrack skirts a cliff line that provides views back to the spring area between marker 9 and 10.

At marker 13 the route divides. The right side has whoop-dee-doo type features across a moonscape of gravel. It is worthwhile riding the marker 13-15 area as a loop to see everything.

Continue along the canyon edge and the next intersection you come upon is marker 16. To the right is a short spur with exciting exposure that goes out to a viewpoint. To the left is the "Final Frontier".

The "Final Frontier" is a ridge line that you'll follow through some steep climbs. There's one spot where you need to work through some tight rocks right at the top, otherwise it is surprisingly smooth singletrack given the ruggedness of the terrain.

At marker 17 an extremely steep and exposed trail to the left leads down to an alternate trailhead.

Make a right towards marker 18 and 19, following white trails headed up to a tall white mound that you can ride to the top of. Near this area the "Central Spine" trail starts at marker 22.

Continue off to the left on some fast doubletrack or stay along the canyon edge for some very steep side trails.

Either way will take you back to the beginning of the Dragon's Back at marker 3. Turn left and roll down the hill to your car.


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Your Check-Ins


Dec 19, 2018
Christian Mannsfeld
Did a double loop - very windy - 40+mph cross wind. Dry, great trail conditions, no one out here. 16mi — 1h 59m
Dec 4, 2018
Alexey Podlesney
Oct 21, 2018
Hayden Hughes
Oct 9, 2018
Jessica Jones
Always fun and beautiful. Started this one earlier enough to avoid the late winds 7.9mi
Sep 23, 2018
Brandon Pasterski
Great ride. Some technical areas and one spot you even have to carry your bike up on the west side but well worth the drive
Aug 11, 2018
Aaron Mehner
A few spots are in rough shape, but generally it isn't difficult to find which branch you're supposed to take. Breathtaking views!!!! 8.4mi — 1h 15m
Aug 3, 2018
Eric Ehle
8.4mi — 1h 15m
Jul 14, 2018
Mad Max
Awesome going along the dragons back, SUCKS coming up the central spine. Go through GOOD TIMES to the left!! I walked my bike up the spine, 40-50 deg 8.4mi

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Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 79 votes


  4.4 from 79 votes
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in New Mexico


474 Views Last Month
31,753 Since Mar 16, 2013
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We met a group of riders lead by a guy named Brian. He stopped in the middle of the trail with his group and made us stop. Brain then proceeded to tell us that the trail is one way only and we were going the wrong way. Brian the trail Nazi was out to ruin our ride. White Mesa trails are not a one way only like some kind of downhill race course. Be ware of trail nazis like this Brian fellow. Mar 4, 2017
G MacD  
Trail is braided and needs serious work. There are so many alternate routes that a rider who is new to the area has no idea which line to take. This was the case for my wife and me. I'm worried the BLM is going to come in and shut this area down as it is being absolutely destroyed by people creating alternate routes. PLEASE ****STAY ON THE TRAIL*** and don't make new alternates. That is not to say White Ridge is a bad ride. Quite the contrary, once you know which line to take, you can have a very enjoyable bomber ride. The views are great. The geology is right there in front of you. There is plenty of challenging terrain to ride. We did the outer loop, then attempted The Spine. Had a good time. May 8, 2018
It's dry on 99% of the trail and perfectly rideable as of Jan 26 2019. This was a very fun trail, but beware of some brutal short climbs. I road it clockwise my first time, but in order to hit the "black diamond" section, you'd want to ride it counter-clockwise. Either way you go is about the same in terms of difficulty. Jan 30, 2019

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