ElevationAscent: 2,059' 628 m
Descent: -2,061' -628 m
High: 6,628' 2,020 m
Low: 6,281' 1,914 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 14% (8°)
Current trail conditions
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“Roller coaster singletrack through the high desert of SW Colorado.”— Jeff Fox
Bureau of Land Management Treasures
One of the Bureau of Land Management's "Backyard to Backcountry" treasures, this trail was developed between Kokopelli Bike Club and the Tres Rios, CO BLM office to provide world-class riding experiences.
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.
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.
The 12 Hours of Mesa Verde race attracts about 800 racers here every Spring.
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