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Kokopelli's Trail summit(u):m114 


Mileage point 114, as referenced by the Copmoba brochure of the trail ( revision 3, 1996) is the highest point on the trail. Floating in lofty heights above red cliffs and below snow covered peaks, it is much less rocky than the previous lower summit at mile 88. Like the m88 summit(u) it can be cycled in a day loop, combining the Kokopelli's Trail with a descent down Castleton Valley. This is the route shown in the profile. All junctions on the Kokopelli Trail itself are very well signed.


01.(4210ft,mile00) START-END EAST: junction Onion Creek rd and paved Ut128
02.(5630ft,mile10) junction with Kokopelli Trail, route continues on right
03.(5780ft,mile11) route turns to left, away from Fisher Valley Ranch
04.(7540ft,mile22) Kokopelli Trail turns left onto good dirt road
05.(7810ft,mile25) low point between summits
06.(8560ft,mile28) TOP: summit(u):m114
07.(6490ft,mile33) Kokopelli Trail continues onto paved La Sal Loop road on left, while profile continues down into Castle Valley
08.(4060ft,mile44) START-END WEST junction Ut128 and road to Castleton

Approaches

From East. The Onion Creek road connects the Kokopelli Trail in Fisher Valley with Ut128. Onion Creek road is also described in a downward direction for the m88 summit(u). But a route like this deserves to be described more than once. So the least I can do is describe it again in an upward direction.

Early morning May sun bakes the red cliffs into a shimmer. Once in the narrows of Onion Creek, dark shadows from overhanging cliffs plunge the rider into momentary darkness until the eyes adjust , exclamation marks in the form of ocher rocks above. A second later blinding sunlight returns. The 16 to 20 stream crossings seem to go by faster than during the descent. This is due to decreased stream flow in the still comparatively cool morning. 

Fisher Valley above the narrows is the first step in today's ride up the geologic staircase. Climbing that first step means reaching a serrated edge that could have been cut with a jig saw. Below it the desert falls off into to a tortured landscape of muddled rocks and defiles. What a thrill to reach it! Red cliffs protect green ranch country in Fisher Valley.  Here the route joins the Kokopellli's Trail itself. First heading in direction Fisher Ranch, the trail soon finds a more adventurous route out of this topographic puzzle. It heads back up the west side of Cottonwood Canyon, down which the trail came from the summit at mile 88.  "Oh no, this could take forever" is a tempting thought, when thinking back of the rough, rocky descent on the other side. But the route on this side is much smoother, even though far flung meanders reach closer to Dolores Canyon. The rider is soon delivered to the top of the shoe box that is Fisher Valley.



With further climbing the ride turns into a forested high plateau ramble in cool air under a green, perpetually moving canopy, cows mistaking my black monoframe Klein for a relative of theirs, if I interpret their mooing correctly. Even though this is mountain biking capital country the only vehicle I encounter is a road grader - yes a road grader. But the end of May is a relatively uncommon time to do this ride due to the heat. Opposite to what one might expect, the higher you get the more elaborately engineered and maintained the road actually becomes. Junctions with the Polar Mesa and Gateway- Moab road ( Paradox Trail ) are signed. The La Sals Mountains, earlier always the white outlined triangles behind the red walls that together take on the shape of a big red house from the distance, now seem reachable - with just a little more effort.

Past the junction with the Moab-Gateway road, the rider now travels on a smooth surface, on which good time can be made. The last climb to the summit traverses a bread loaf shaped slope in open forest between extensive views of Castleton Valley and the towering La Sals.

From West. The approach is described in a downward direction. Surprise - Immediately after the highest point the road turns paved, and the descent into red hot valley heat between red vertical cliffs is as fast as with a motorized vehicle. One short, but steep uphill at the bottom of this valley is the last remaining opportunity for physical exercise that is left before the route joins Ut128.


 

Tours

Dayrides. A dayride combining the two described approaches, completing the loop with Ut128 through Professor Valley measured 50 miles with 6250 feet of climbing in 5.4 hours (m3:06.05.23).




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