“Roller coaster singletrack through the high desert of SW Colorado.
— Jeff Fox
Phil's World is known for two words, RIB CAGE! The most prominent feature of the area, Rib Cage is fast and fun, rolling terrain that will make you hoop and holler. You can lap this feature, but there is plenty of other fun to be had as well. Ledges and Stinking Spring trails are furthest from the trailhead, and offer a bit more challenging terrain, and also the best views.
If solitude is what you are looking for, this is not the area for you, at the parking lot at least. Because of the one way direction, once the parking lot is left behind, you would think you are the only one on the trails.
Need to Know
The front part of Phil's World is on State Trust Land that is leased and maintained by the Kokopelli Bike Club. The club asks riders that have not paid for an annual membership to drop $3/person in the paybox located at the start of the trail. This money is used to offset the cost of the lease and the required liability insurance as well as maintaining this awesome trail.
The Phil's World trail system is directional so all loops are ridden clockwise. Each section of the trail is conveniently marked with a wooden sign.
Head North out of the parking lot through the gate to the trail intersection where you'll see the return route coming in from the right. Drop your daily user fee in the pay box if you don't have an annual membership and take a look at the trail map and kiosk.
The buff singletrack winds through pinion and juniper forest, gradually gaining just over 100 feet to the "saddle". Buckle in and prepare for a super fun screaming descent down the Coco Race section. After this fast and twisty descent you'll cross through a big arroyo and grunt up a short but steep climb followed by some flat recovery spinning through the pinions.
At the intersection on top of the next saddle, stay left again for the Lemonhead section unless you are short on time and want to go straight for the Rib Cage. Lemonhead drops off a couple of ledges, traverses the hillside and then climbs up to the top of mesa for some more fast cruising. After a few miles, you'll come to the Cortez overlook which is a good spot to regroup and look West to great views of Totten reservoir and the City of Cortez.
Following Lemonhead is a quick drop into the Maze section with an easy log jump and some tight corners. Prepare to get your climb on as you exit the Maze and climb back up to the Elbow section. Elbow takes you across some slickrock style riding with a couple of technical sections. With the right lines, you can make quick work of these tricky sections, but use caution as there have been a few unfortunate mishaps here.
After the Elbow, the trail returns to smooth, hardpacked singletrack heading East with some terrific views of the LaPlata mountain range. Take a left at the Abajo junction (straight is a shortcut into the lower half of Ribcage) and climb up to the Abajo overlook. It is customary to stop here for a snack and regroup. On a clear day you'll see mountain ranges in all direction including the LaPlatas, the Wilson group, the Abajos near Monticello and even the LaSals near Moab.
From the Abajo overlook, traverse the ridge on excellent tread to the Ledges turnoff going left. For this description we'll stay right and skip Ledges but it is a great loop that you can add on if you have time to tack on 30-60 minutes to your ride. Ledges will come back in to the main trail just down the way from where you left it.
Shortly past the Ledges Turnoff, there is an intersection for the Stinking Springs
Loop. If you want to avoid this and get straight to the top of the Rib Cage, go straight (on the trail curving to the right or West). The traditional "race lap" turns left onto Stinking Springs
for a super fast and smooth climb up to the Pinnacle where you'll drop into the Vertebrae.
Vertebrae is a downhill roller coaster that will have you grinning the whole way. There are banked turns and pump track like jumps leading to Moki Downhill which is a little bit more rocky and technical.
Transition from Moki Downhill to a hard climb up the Moki Climb followed by another cruise along the edge of a mesa.
Next up is a beating along the rocky, semi-technical section known as Tuffy Rim. Be careful of pinch flats if you're running tubes through this section.
After exiting the rim on a quick descent and a short climb up Stone Axe Hill, you'll hit a ledgy drop that has gotten a bit rough recently. There are a few lines down the ledges so pick one and go for it.
Another short climb and you are at the top of the famed Rib Cage. Tighten everything up here and prepare for a roller coaster ride. The Rib Cage is a flowy, twisty section with great jumps and berms.
You'll still be grinning from the Rib Cage when you recross the arroyo and climb back up to the "saddle". At the saddle drop in for the final screaming descent back to the parking lot.
History & Background
Phil's World trail has gone through many iterations over the years. The original route was constructed by a local, appropriately named Phil. The trail is on a mix of BLM and State Trust Land. At one point, the trail became in danger of being shut down due to the State Trust land being leased by the shooting range. The Kokopelli Bike Club was able to negotiate a shared lease with the shooting range and reroute the front part of the trail to avoid biker/shooter conflicts. Rib Cage was the first addition to the original Phil's trail, followed by the Stinking Springs
loop and then the Ledges loop. A shorter beginner loop (Trust Loop
)was built on the front part of the State Trust Land along with an extension of Phil's named 2 More, partially as a school project for some local students. The Kokopelli bike club then added another extension off the Trust Loop
called Hippie House
The 12 Hours of Mesa Verde race attracts about 800 racers here every Spring.