“Possibly the best beginner loop you'll ever find with riding that's fun for all ability levels.”
— Michael Ahnemann
There can't be a more perfect loop to take a beginning rider on than this one to get them completely hooked on mountain biking. A beginner may feel challenged on this ride, but never intimidated. The scenery is fantastic, and there's a little bit of everything to introduce new riders to the sport.
There are also a series of signs along the way to educate new riders about everything from cornering and climbing skills to trail etiquette, and the local terrain and ecology.
Need to Know
The main Kokopelli trailhead is just off the highway, and getting to the start of this ride from that trailhead requires a short climb then a short steep descent on a dirt road. True beginners might want to drive the dirt road and park at the dedicated Rustler's trailhead right at the start of the trail.
There are also many options for other more advanced rides after graduating from this one, including the Wranglers loop and Mary's Loop
Ride in a clockwise direction only.
The ride starts out by climbing a doubletrack/dirt road. It's a fairly steep climb, but doesn't last very long before leveling out on mellow singletrack.
Once you hit the singletrack, just settle in and get ready to enjoy the ride. Obvious signs are placed along the trail with helpful hints for beginners - and they can be interesting for more advanced riders as well.
The singletrack winds gently up and down for a bit as it makes it's way right up to the edge of the rim, well above the Colorado river. The trail never gets close enough to the rim to scare riders, but it does give a sense of the massiveness of this area. There are also a few opportunities to stop and walk out to the edge of the rim and look down on the river.
The trail then heads back inland from the river, and riders will enjoy a slightly more challenging switchback descent over slickrock-type terrain. There's a sign warning riders to slow down before the first switchback. Pay attention to this sign - if you missed that first turn, you'd find yourself falling a long way over a cliff.
There are plenty of opportunities to play around on the rock and work on your skills before the trail smooths out again and becomes sweet flowy singletrack with a vertical red rock face as a backdrop.
The trail climbs a bit more up some rocky but mostly gentle sections before descending gently (but fast if you choose) back to the start.