Kokopelli Trail m88 s(u)
The Kokopelli Trail is 142 miles of canyons, mountains and
dessert bluffs between Loma, Colorado and Moab, Utah. The
Utah section of the trail lends itself readily to being
divided into four major summits, all of which can be
cycled as day loops along with some additional roads. The
summit at mileage point 88 ( referencing the Cobmoba
brochure on the trail, third revision 1996, not
corresponding to the mileage points in the profile below )
is the easternmost summit that explores the deep red
cliffs and mesas that surround the La Sal Mountains like a
network of natural moats. When the Colorado Plateau canyon
maze is yet further disturbed by the exposed mass of magma
of the La Sal Mountains, nature comes up with a topography
so amazing, confusing and varied, that personally I never
minded one bit that I walked a significant portion of this
rough section of the trail. In order to take all the
pictures I wanted, I would have had to stop anyway.
Elevations in the profile are slightly different than the
ones shown in the official Cobmoba brochure. However this
is what I come up with when I trace the trail on a map.
Due to the trail conditions traversal of this route takes
longer than the profile below would lead you to suspect,
when compared to similar profiles in these pages.
|01.(4140ft,mile00) START-END EAST:
02.(5040ft,mile05) Kokopelli Trail and "End of
the world Road" turn off on right, followed by
another immediate left branch of the profile route
03.(4930ft,mile07) turn right onto gravel road
04.(5900ft,mile10) Kokopelli Trail stays left
06.(5630ft.mile18) profile turns right, down into
Fisher Valley, while Kokopelli Trail stays left.
07.(4220ft,mile27) START-END WEST: junction of Onion
Creek rd with paved road.
From North. Dewey Bridge marks the magical spot
where Ut128 coming from Frisco finally crosses onto the south
side of the Colorado River and thus grants access to a large
area of Dolores Canyons stretching to the Unaweep Divide. The
profile begins here. A gravel road with moderately large rocks
climbs steeply between sandstone bluffs on a dip slope. The
trail diverts from the road at the "Top of the World
Trail" ( or road ) on the right, only to depart from it
immediately afterwards to the left onto a single track wide
enough to be a double track.
I know of at least one rider who has has missed that second
left, inadvertently taking the route described under sidetrips
below. - No it was not me. If there is no place in particular
that one needs to be by the evening, this may not be such a
bad thing. But generally everybody has to be somewhere
eventually. As of May/06 a very large sign at that second
junction insures that riders remain on their preferred course.
The wide single track section through a small, narrow
canyon is described as technical. I'm not sure how technically
competent my walking was - but not very. After that little
diversion the trail rejoins the gravel to climb to the summit.
The summit is located on a shallow dip slope traverse in open
juniper forest. Here the field of view widens to a full
180 degrees and for the first time includes the Dolores
Canyons to the south.. A spot next to the trail shows that it
has been used as picnic spot.
La Sal Moutains from west of
summit Kokopelli Trail m88
From South. The route is described in a downward
direction. The trail quickly becomes a rough off road trail
and the La Sal Mountains enter the field of view for the first
time, a white crown on a set of red cliffs. Keeping with the
prevalent jargon used to describe the trail, it can be called
technical - rocky as hell would also work. After a descent
switching direction back in a northerly direction, it suddenly
becomes apparent that a sheer canyon separates the trail from
mesas further west - right when the the trail arrives at its
rim. What follows is a series of rough, rocky ascents and
descents with vertical cliffs not far from both sides.
Included in this is one descent covering several hundred feet,
that seems like somebody went out his way to gather all the
rocks in the area and place them on this slope. This stretch,
showing up in the profile just before mile 15, is definitely
100 percent impossible to ride, uh, I mean technical. And what
a beautiful walk it was. Dark clouds enveloped the snow on the
La Sals with a translucent curtain of light. The cliffs above
seemed like bloody teeth and green cottonwoods sought shelter
in rocky depths.
But back to the biking. Unexpectedly the trail suddenly
takes on a hard smooth surface as it approaches Fisher Valley,
which surprisingly is at the same high altitude. At this point
the route description deviates from the Kokopelli Trail
itself, and continues down Onion Creek Road in Fisher Valley,
in order to facilitate the dayride suggestion below. Now on a
good dirt road, the cyclist gets to "spend" at least
some of the uphill, he has worked for so hard. And this
stretch too has its scenic wonders.
Fisher Valley has the appearance of a large shoe box. But
something seems unusual about it from this vantage point. The
shoebox seems to terminate in mid space. The reason soon
becomes apparent. The floor gives way to a contorted canyon
with spires of every imaginable shape and size (3rd picture).
Now all that remains are approximately 17 crossings of Onion
Creek, before the rider is delivered back to Ut128 in
climbing the north side of
the Kokopelli Trail m88 s(u)
Sidetrip. The steep out and back climb
on End of the World road leads to an amazing vantage point
above the Fisher towers and opposite the La Sal mountains.
Climbing up the dip slope, there is no hint of what is ahead
until you arrive at the rim. It almost seems a shame to spoil
the surprise by mentioning it here, or putting up a sign at
Dayrides. A loop ride on the two approaches
described above, connecting back to the starting point along
paved Ut128 measured 38 miles with 4890ft of climbing in 5.3
Fisher Towers in
background, while descending Onion Creek Road from a ride on
the Kokopelli Trail