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High Desert Trail System, 3rd and 2nd Mesa Loop

 4.4 (36)
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Map Key

13.9 Miles 22.4 Kilometers



852' 260 m


-850' -259 m



Avg Grade (1°)


Max Grade (8°)

6,797' 2,072 m


6,448' 1,965 m


Shared By LeeAB Brinckerhoff


Minor Issues 43 days ago
Muddy - Very muddy, not worth it. History

Getting forecast...

Amazing desert singletrack riding with great, bizarre features.

LeeAB Brinckerhoff

Dogs Off-leash

Features -none-


Great singletrack snaking up, down, around and between the desert mesas. This is home to the 12 hour event, Dawn Til' Dusk put on by Zia Rides and benefiting the Bikemobile of the Boys and Girls Club of Gallup. This trail is well maintained and signed - there are numbered maps at all the intersections, while stone wall creates terraces for the switchbacks.

This ride follows the same trails as Dawn Til' Dusk but not in the same way. There can be traffic - but heavy traffic for Gallup would still be nothing compared to destination spots. There are cattle that can tear up the low lying trails and they are not as smooth as the parts up on the mesas.


Start out from the parking on the signed trail that parallels the road. Quickly drop down and go through a gate by a road. Follow the trail near the road until it crosses it and starts to climb. The climb is pretty steady with only a spot of two with rock steps to slow you down. You'll quickly come to Junction #8 - go straight across and continue climbing, eventually working through several switchbacks. Once up on the mesa (this is 3rd Mesa), enjoy varied rolling terrain with crazy rock features. You'll eventually come to Junction #7 at the end of 3rd Mesa. Roll straight through and begin to drop off into the lowlands between the mesas.

This area is fast and twisting with more vegetation and the occasional sandy spot. There is a gate that you pass through down low before you start to climb up onto the 2nd Mesa. Climb up to Junction #6 on 2nd Mesa and make a right. You'll now make a loop of the mesa before heading back. There are several sections as you head out that will follow along edges of the mesa. It's also a bit sandier back here so just be ready for it. At the far end of 2nd Mesa you'll come to Junction #5. Here you make a left to begin your return journey.

The return trip on 2nd Mesa has several cool sections and a "cat" to spook you, along with a cairn garden. Some rock ledges to work through and exposed rock sections keep things interesting on your way back to Junction #6. Stay to the right through this junction and work your way back through the lowlands. Winding trail through sage brush is what sticks out the most with the occasional sandy patch.

Back at Junction #7 go straight through for a highly entertaining section on 3rd Mesa. You'll get fast descents, open bed rock, exposed sections along the edge of the mesa, and spots where you can miss the trail. This is the most technical section of the trail and has some exposure as well, though the two are usually not combined. It's just so much fun on your way back to Junction #8 where you make a left to retrace your tracks to the car.


Local Club: Gallup Trails

Land Manager: McKinley County

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Your Check-Ins


Jul 27, 2018
Jerico Devlin
Lots of fun. Stay on the south side of the rocky ridge for More technical fun. 20mi
Jul 25, 2018
Jerico Devlin
Back home.
May 6, 2018
Fun, beautiful. Some technical spots, but lots of fast singletrack. 7.4mi
Mar 17, 2018
Stephen McLaughlin
Loved it. Turned around at second junction 7.4mi
Mar 8, 2018
Charlie Muir
dry, no mud, a few sandy spots but otherwise ideal 19.2mi
Jan 27, 2018
Pistola Straate
Still holding snow on the north side of the highpoint. 14mi
Oct 15, 2017
Chris Boyd
Oct 6, 2017
Dustin Vasquez
Who ever designed this trail system knew the area very well. The trail is laid out very well. Good smooth and rocky singletrack. 13.6mi

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 36 votes


  4.4 from 36 votes
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310 Views Last Month
13,792 Since Apr 20, 2013
Intermediate Intermediate

Rode this a couple years ago. We camped in Gallup at an RV park and rode to the T/H. Well built dingle trak system. Some techy stuff and some climbs. A great place to get your desert on. Take water. There is none on the trail. Nov 22, 2014

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