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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: Dewey Bridge
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
05.(6370ft,mile11) TOP
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 Mountains from west of Kokopelli
                        Trail summit m88
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 Professor Valley.

climbing the north side of the Kokopelli
                        Trail m88 s(u)
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 the junction.

Dayride. 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 hours (m3:06.05.22).

Fisher Towers in background, while
                          descending Onion Creek Road from a ride on the
                          Kokopelli Trail
Fisher Towers in background, while descending Onion Creek Road from a ride on the Kokopelli Trail