Kokopelli Trail – Take 1

Kokopelli Trail – Take 1

posted in: Bicycle Touring, Colorado | 16

This post is a month late.  I’ve wrote most of it but never got around to collecting and uploading the pictures.  Anyways, here’s the ride report from a fun trip with friends and family back in the middle of April.

The Plan

After a bit of back and forth with my sister earlier this year, we settled on a date for a mountain biking / bikepacking trip during a week that she had 5 days off work.  The plan was to ride the Kokopelli Trail, a collection of single track and double track spanning 158 miles from Loma, Colorado to Moab, Utah.  The terrain consist of canyon ridges with scenic views of the Colorado River, a climb up part of the La Sal mountain range, and an amazing decent down the famous Porcupine Rim Trail into Moab.  An epic blend of all that is great in mountain biking.

The riding crew originally consisted as myself, Krista, and Dennis.  As I mentioned the trip to a few friends the group grew.  Luke Michals and Dom Trom didn’t need much arm twisting to join the fun.  Krista even convinced our parents to come out, so we were lucky enough to have a support vehicle for the trip.  Everyone was flying in Thursday night.  Krista had route details all figured out and weather had been great.  I flew out a week early to hang out and work remote.  We scouted out several camping options during a day trip to do some riding in Moab.  We were all set for the big ride.  And then…

Yep those are snow flakes.
Some late night bike maintenance after we saw Dom’s derailleur was broken.  Luckily Dennis has a bike shop set up in the living room.  You can see Dom “helping” 🙂  I’m proud though, he has since replaced it with a new one himself and sold the bike. Get a new one soon Dom!

The New Plan…

Unfortunately, mother nature had other plans for us.  The day before the trip the skies opened up bringing snow and rain.  The ground in the area consist of slick rock, sand, and bentonite clay.  Combining bentonite clay and water has interesting results.  Given the right amount of rain, the trails conditions actually improve, making the ground dust free and tacky for extra cornering grip.  Too much moisture, and you have a sticky heavy mess that dries to you bike like concrete.  With more rain in the forecast, the delicate tipping point was sure to go from grippy clay to sticky mess.  So, we looked toward Moab where we could ride trails that consisted mostly of slick rock.

Despite our foiled plans to ride the Kokopelli Trail, the trip was still a great success.  Nothing like a good desert ramble with friends and family to leave you feeling rejuvinated.  The trip was full of laughs, great riding, and amazing scenery.


Trip Overview

Day 0 :

Original planned start day of the Kokopelli.  It rained all damn day.  We spent the morning trying to figure out how to cram everything and everyone into one vehicle.  I scored a hitch rack in a frenzied morning craigslist hunt and after installing it we were off.  There was no riding to be had today with the rain so we did what any respectable cyclist would do… head to the brewery of course!

We finished the day adventuring across flooded rivers and muddy roads to find a campground.  I insisted we keep forging ahead to the more remote campgrounds, but I think my mom was about to strangle my dad who was driving.  Campground B it was ;).

It all fits! Barely!
Everyone fit in the SUV, but Krista drew the short stick and got crammed in the very back with all the gear.
Can’t bike? To the brewery!
Then it was off to go exploring for campsites… things were a little muddy.


After setting up camp we found some overhanging rocks to seek refuge and share a growler.  Or a grizzler as Dom might say.


The rain eventually broke and we snuck in some exploring before dark. Zen master Dom found himself a nice perch.


Some frolf discs were randomly discovered and a round of outback frisbee golf followed.


Day 1:

Rides: Captain Ahab, Bar M Loops – Moab, UT

Riding anything that wasn’t largely slick rock today was pretty much out of the question today with all of the rain.  We decided to start the day with a ride on Captain Ahab trail, followed by some riding at the Bar M Loops.  The trails were in great condition and despite our original riding plans we still got our share of miles in.  After finishing up at Bar M, the rain found us again but passed quickly.

After the days rides we sought off to explore more camping options.  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the campgrounds we checked were all full.  On we drove to some of the more remote areas where someone at the bike shop had told us about the day before.  Sure enough, we found a “weed out route” seperating the cars from the higher clearance all-wheel drive vehicles.  After a little off-roading we came across a great spot to settle for the night.  Some threatening storms put on a great show to the north of us this evening while we cooked dinner and set up camp.  Luckily, they stayed away just long enough for us to finish up and get into bed.  More rain through the night…


Chilly morning!


It’s a pretty technical climb going up, but coming down is soooo much fun




Laughing at Krista with her beer and post ride donut holes 🙂
Bar M Loops – I swear this shot wasn’t staged… Ok it was totally staged


Great views of the La Sal mountains
Oh hey look… rain clouds
Distant storm clouds from our campsite for the evening.




Day 2:

Rides: Western Rim Trail (alternate route option of the Kokopelli) – near Fruita, CO

After waking up to sunshine and amazing views, we aimed our sights back towards Colorado.  It was Sunday and we planned to head to Rabbit Valley on the western rim of the Colorado River.  This was going to be the only section of the Kokopelli Trail that we would actually ride.  We arrived at the campsite area which was a decent spot, but per usual we decided to press onward and look for better remote sites.  Our efforts were rewarded as we landed an awesome free campsite at the foot of a giant lonely rock.  Krista, Dennis, Jeff all headed into town for some groceries while the rest of us explored the area.  Several shenanigans later they returned and we set off to ride the Western Rim Trail.  Winding along the river atop the steep canyon walls provided some of the best views of the trip.  Of course, a ride wouldn’t be complete without some rain… or lightning for that matter.  The storms broke when we got back to camp.  The rest of the evening was enjoyed with great food, beers, and hilarious campfire games.  “Who goes there?!” 🙂

Sweet spot to set up camp!
Here’s Dom climbing in his underwear…
Luke can do a neat trick where he separates his torso and legs.
And we’re off! Watch out for cows.
The western rim trail quickly became… awesome.



Luke stopping to take it all in



Some serious drops on this ride.



Our lunch stop was cut short when we realized the rain was on it’s way again.
Rain turned to lightning… the ride quickly became a race back to the campground.


Everyone made it back muddy, but mostly unscathed…
… except Dom had a boo boo. Luckily we had Mom (Terri) to save the day!


Great campsite to finish off the trip.


Day 3:

Rides: 18 Road Trails – Fruita, CO

We had some local Fruita trails picked out for this morning before heading back to Grand Junction.  We rode Joe’s Ridge into Kessel Run, a flowy roller coaster of a ride with steep turns and plenty of high speed burms.  I must not have brought my camera along on these trails because the only photos I could find were of someone taking pictures of me napping.  After the ride it was back to Junction where we cleaned mud off everything, packed up, relaxed for the evening.

Miraculously no rain today.

Dom_luke_bike clean



The next morning we put away several pots of coffee in the yard before finally heading our ways.  Luke flew back to LA, my parents to Minnesota, and I was riding with Dom to his place in Vegas where I could catch a $50 flight back to Reno/Tahoe.  Despite the weather the trip was a huge success.  I’ll be back, and I WILL ride Porcupine Rim!  Lots of fun things to do on the western slope!  Can’t wait to get the gang back together for the next (t)rip.

Wish you could have seen more on the Kokopelli Trail?  Well, on a ride prior to the planned trip Krista, Dennis, and I ran into Logan Watts.  Logan is the face behind Pedalling Nowhere (there is a face behind his epic beard).  Pedalling Nowhere is an amazing collection of bikepacking stories, routes, gear reviews, and occasional beer recommendations.  I’ve frequented his site for some time so it was a real treat to meet him in person.  He rode the Kokopelli about a week prior to our attempt and documented some of the trip on his website: http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/routes/kokopelli-trail-bikepacking-route/


Photo Cred:  I’m pretty sure there’s a mish-mash of photos I collected from about everyone… So photo props to the whole crew.

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16 Responses

  1. That looks like a great family adventure, with Mother Nature adding plenty of drama. Those views are spectacular. With those drops I’d have killed myself for sure.

    • Bradley

      Haha I’m sure you would have made it through alright 😉

      • I find it quite ironic that you can survive mountains and canyons without incident, but those roadside ditches get you!

  2. Erik Lewinski

    You have an awesome life!!!

  3. Keith Short

    Nice! Good to see you back on the web. An excellent western adventure!

  4. Thanks for taking us with. It was a great time.

    • Bradley

      Come join us on more adventures! Was a blast having you and Dad along.

  5. Gene Dankbar

    Great pictures of the ride! Thanks for sharing!


  6. Grand pix of great trip with all the trimmings…Parker..the guy who approached you to chat at Va. Beach…

    • Bradley

      Thanks Parker, glad your still enjoying the occasional posts.

  7. Jean Ryan

    Just caught up with this latest post. Spectacular views! I can see why you love it. What a life. It’s fun to live vicariously. The dropoffs aren’t quite as scary.
    Be safe, Grandma

    • Was a great trip! Can’t wait for the next one. Thanks Grandma! And of course… safety first!

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