Standing on top of the Book Cliffs, more than 2,000 vertical feet above the Grand Valley basin, one begins to realize why The Edge Loop in Fruita, Colorado, is indeed epic. East and south loom the mighty snow-capped Rockies. Canyons and arroyos dominated by red rocks unfold to the west. There is nothing to do but stand in awe.
Tight, slalom-like singletrack bookends The Edge Loop, guaranteeing ear-to-ear grins. The ride also features a 50-foot rappel down a slickrock waterfall (there's also an option to hike-a-bike around).
By the time you circle back to the trailhead, you'll remember what stoked you about mountain biking in the first place.
The Edge starts by pedaling the length of Prime Cut
towards the Book Cliffs. At the intersection with Chutes & Ladders
, turn left on Frontside
from east to west, first passing through the very upper end of 18 road and then continuing through intersections with Joe's Ridge
, Zippity Do Da
and Western Zippity
Beyond Western Zippity
, there's another bit of Frontside
singletrack. It climbs slightly at first before diving into a steep descent that shoots you across the bottom of the mesa. From there, there's one, kick-in-the-pants climb before rolling out to the road.
It may be hard to get psyched for the next part of the Edge, a 15-mile section of dirt. Fortunately, you'll be riding in a beautiful canyon that eventually takes you up to 360-degree views. The grade is mellow at first and then gradually gets steeper. Bear right at the junction in the road. From here, the route is a grinding 1,000-foot climb with no rest. The effort is rewarded with big views across blue skies as you ascend.
The road levels out briefly, passes the Hunters Canyon Compressor Plant and then descends quickly to a three-way intersection. Stay straight here. Prepare for steep, punchy climbs and steep descents on chundery surface through the next part of the route. This will take you out to the furthest extent of the Book Cliffs rim. You are literally going to the edge.
With the precipice in sight, you'll have two wicked, steep and loose descents to the intersection with The Edge singletrack. Take a break here to enjoy the views before tackling the next part of this epic.
The Edge Loop - Lipan Canyon Section
starts with a fun, twisty descent through pinion and juniper into classic desert canyon. It's somewhat rocky in loose soil so it's good to be ready and balanced on your bike. The descent exits into a sandy wash. There are clusters of rocks and dense vegetation corralling this part of the route. Be ready to duck, dive and wiggle your way through this part of the route.
Now for the crux of The Edge Loop - to rappel or not?
The rappel section of the Edge Loop is obvious as the wash comes to the top of a small slot canyon. You'll have two options to descend here.
The rappel is a two-pitch challenge. The first section is at the head of the slot, about 10-12 feet tall and tight. There are ropes at the top of each pitch anchored by a bolt and carabiner. Use at your own risk.
The non-rappel descent is found by following the track to the right along the slot rim. There's a short slog up and then around to a hikeable descent down to the wash. This option is steep, kinda loose and rocky, but very hikeable.
The route then continues in the wash with steep walls on your left. There are fewer rock clusters to contend with and the route is more open.
Lipan Canyon ends at an intersection with the Edge Cutoff East
. Go straight here, climbing and descending multiple mesas and washes. Left takes you through another sandy wash, eventually rejoining the Edge Loop.
At the intersection with 18 6/10 Road, turn left off the Edge Cutoff East
and roll downhill to the next junction. Following the signs for Edge Loop, turn right. Continue straight through the next intersection and then bear left at the one after.
From here, you'll follow Edge Loop - Lower 18 Road Section
and signs for Edge Loop and/or Vegetarian
loop all the way back to the main parking area and the start of the Epic route.