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

 28 votes

13.6 Miles 21.9 Kilometers



1,124' 343 m


-1,124' -343 m


6,799' 2,072 m


6,443' 1,964 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (9°)

All Clear

27 days agoUpdate

Amazing desert singletrack riding with great, bizarre features.

LeeAB Brinckerhoff


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.
Dogs: Off-leash


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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4.4 from 28 votes

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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
Jun 10, 2017
Todd Miller
May 4, 2017
John Geronimo
Second visit made me realize how amazing this system is
Mar 24, 2017
Matt Rettmer
Only had time for half of the trail. Bummed because it is a bunch of FUN!! Great system and nothing technical! Wish I could have ridden it all! 8mi — 1h 00m
Mar 23, 2017
Daniel Green
Mar 18, 2017
Steven Ancik
Rough in places due to bovine infestation and rider in mud. Dry today. 13.4mi
Dec 11, 2016
Jonathan Hayden

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 28 votes


  4.4 from 28 votes
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All Clear 27 days ago

Getting forecast...

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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