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

 4.4 (52)

Amazing desert singletrack riding with great, bizarre features.

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6,797' 2,072 m


6,448' 1,965 m


852' 260 m


850' 259 m



Avg Grade (1°)


Max Grade (8°)

Dogs Off-leash

E-Bikes Unknown


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

Shared By:

LeeAB Brinckerhoff

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 52 votes


  4.4 from 52 votes
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61 Views Last Month
18,363 Since Apr 20, 2013



Great trail work on the switchbacks.
Apr 21, 2013 near Gallup, NM
Trail wrapping around a hoodoo
May 31, 2016 near Gallup, NM
Colorful trail friend
Apr 21, 2013 near Gallup, NM
Lesley rides a slickrock ramp while Dave takes in the view.
Apr 21, 2013 near Gallup, NM
Hoping I don't get flattened by a toppling HooDoo.
Apr 21, 2013 near Gallup, NM
Getting to the top of the 2nd Mesa!
Sep 4, 2018 near Gallup, NM


Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Feb 22, 2021
Adam Johnson
Sep 11, 2020
Victor Damian
Jul 29, 2020
6.8mi — 19h 37m
Jul 2, 2020
Michele Landavazo
Feb 17, 2020
Julie Birkle
Muddy in spots 2.7mi — 3h 16m
Nov 9, 2019
Aaron Kikola
Fantastic trails! Really well thought out system... flows really well but still has enough scenery changes to keep you on your toes. Loved it!!
Apr 29, 2019
great trail. 1st NM ride
Apr 27, 2019
Bill Westervelt
Extremely impressed with this network.. Road the whole thing clockwise. Yeah there were some hoof marks but they were not bad. Excellent! 17.1mi — 2h 14m