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Thread: Grants NM Rides

  1. #1
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    Grants NM Rides

    I am wondering what kind of riding is near Grants? I know Gallup has some goodies but I may have reason to visit Grants and would like to kill 2 birds.

    I see something about a Lobo Loop, is that any good? Is there better?
    I can't find much else. I am good for 2000-3000 feet of climbing, I like some tech, or flow, or anything fun really.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    I believe the CDT is open to bikes on the Mt Taylor RD but I've not ridden it myself so I don't know how good it is.

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    Maybe not what you are looking for, but:

    I ride a bit west of Grants a lot as we have some land near El Morro National Monument. Never ridden Mt. Taylor, though it sounds interesting.

    I have a photo blog here that shows some of my rides over the last 6 months. Pretty varied terrain. Bonita Canyon, just north of the Zuni-Acoma trailhead on 53, about 20-30 minutes from Grants is probably the closest to Grants. Really beautiful, especially if you venture up some of the side canyons that drain into it. The further north you get, the more forested and interesting it becomes. A gradual grade going up and ripping coming back down.

    Not a lot of developed singletrack in this area so far as I am aware, but tons of old logging roads that weave through the Zunis (part of Cibola National Forest). Ponderosa and juniper forest mainly with scrub oak mixed in and large meadows created by volcanic cones subsumed by the mountain uplift. I have seen elk, deer, rattlesnake (once) and evidence of bear and mountain lion (both of which are very shy - never actually seen any).

    I have also ridden the Chain of Craters Back Country Byway which the CDT criss-crosses (turnoff is just after the Bandera Ice Caves). You can catch a ~9 mile singletrack section heading south maybe 4-5 miles from the the turnoff from SR53 onto CR42 (the byway). The trailhead is clearly marked with a message board. Pretty flat and also quite exposed, but the geology is very interesting as you are along the edge of the malpais and among volcanic cones. There are also many places to see the volcanic flows, and some "caves" which are collapsed lava tubes. Some have been closed because of white nose bat syndrome, though, and I don't know the status of the ones in this area.

    Good luck and let us know if you find something interesting.

  4. #4
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    Grants Area Mountain Biking - Mountain Bike Trails lists 6 rides. Also call the city of commerce/visitor center. I remember seeing a billboard along the interstate that shows a mountain biker so I wondered myself but never looked until now. That is a nice mountain.

    Here is another site: Mountain Bike Trails in Grants, NM - Scout.me
    "I think im gonna go to walmart and look at the mountain bikes and see if i can salvage the rear frame."- Nick_Knipp 3/21/12

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    Quote Originally Posted by wahday View Post
    Maybe not what you are looking for, but:

    I ride a bit west of Grants a lot as we have some land near El Morro National Monument. Never ridden Mt. Taylor, though it sounds interesting.

    I have a photo blog here that shows some of my rides over the last 6 months. Pretty varied terrain. Bonita Canyon, just north of the Zuni-Acoma trailhead on 53, about 20-30 minutes from Grants is probably the closest to Grants. Really beautiful, especially if you venture up some of the side canyons that drain into it. The further north you get, the more forested and interesting it becomes. A gradual grade going up and ripping coming back down.

    Not a lot of developed singletrack in this area so far as I am aware, but tons of old logging roads that weave through the Zunis (part of Cibola National Forest). Ponderosa and juniper forest mainly with scrub oak mixed in and large meadows created by volcanic cones subsumed by the mountain uplift. I have seen elk, deer, rattlesnake (once) and evidence of bear and mountain lion (both of which are very shy - never actually seen any).

    I have also ridden the Chain of Craters Back Country Byway which the CDT criss-crosses (turnoff is just after the Bandera Ice Caves). You can catch a ~9 mile singletrack section heading south maybe 4-5 miles from the the turnoff from SR53 onto CR42 (the byway). The trailhead is clearly marked with a message board. Pretty flat and also quite exposed, but the geology is very interesting as you are along the edge of the malpais and among volcanic cones. There are also many places to see the volcanic flows, and some "caves" which are collapsed lava tubes. Some have been closed because of white nose bat syndrome, though, and I don't know the status of the ones in this area.

    Good luck and let us know if you find something interesting.
    This is good info.

    I've been wanting to check out El Malpias for some time now.

  6. #6
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    So just wanted to post up a ride report.
    I rode the CDT north from grants toward Mt. Taylor this Saturday. I started from the trail head just off Lobo Canyon road around mile marker 5 north of grants and followed the trail north. I tried to do the ride described on red5cycling.com.
    He understated exactly how painful the first 1.5 miles or so really are. It was basically just a hike for me. It was way too steep with no warm up for me to really ride much of it. Once you get to the top of that it turns into a fairly decent experience. My biggest problem was that the trail surface was kind of sandy but not well worn and had a crust from some rain which really ramped up the rolling resistance. The trail felt very slow the whole way having to pedal slight downward slopes.
    In general the farther I went the more fun the trail got. I broke off the CDT trail onto forest road 193 to get to the gooseberry trail but by that time I had ran out of gas and couldn't make it all the way up.
    The way down was pretty fun but again was not as fast as it could have been from the extra rolling resistance. There was a couple slightly technical sections thrown into an otherwise uneventful trail which was nice. I really wish I had more energy for the gooseberry section of trail as it seemed the most fun.
    I was expecting the last 1.5 miles to be super fun but really it was just loose rocks and steep. It was like baby head sides rocks, but they were more square edge slate type and kept getting kicked into my spokes which I was expecting to break at any moment.

    I only did 25.5 miles but I will give it a go again after it rains some and I get more fit.

    Need to try something else in the area or just suck up the extra rive to the enchanted forest area.

  7. #7
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    So with Mount Taylor Ranger District in Stage 3, what grants area rides are open? Would the El Malpias area have anything open? Something in between grants and Gallup would be ok too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by warimono View Post
    So with Mount Taylor Ranger District in Stage 3, what grants area rides are open? Would the El Malpias area have anything open? Something in between grants and Gallup would be ok too.
    I was planning to bikepack overnight out in the Zunis until last night when I saw the closures for Mt. Taylor RD. El Malpais and El Morro National Monuments are in Stage 2 (no open fires, no smoking, no fireworks). All the lava tube caves are closed, though, because of the bat fungus issue.

    I am looking at Friday to Saturday along the Chain of Craters. Checking out a CDT trail that you catch off CR42 a little ways south of SR53 (there is a trailhead and bulletin board on CR42). Out and back overnighter.

    I rode part of this trail's southern section in the Chain of Craters area (near Cerro Brillante) and it grew faint and hard to follow. If you go to this area, bring a compass and don't stray too far from the last cairn...

  9. #9
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    Park Map Viewer

    Looking at this map, it looks like the CDT intersects at Highway 117 and the Zuni- Acoma trail, then heads north towards highway 53, then south, then to 42(chain of crators byway) then back towards 117.

    Which parts of this look did you do?

    Or does anybody know if this would make up a decent ride?

    Thanks.

  10. #10
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    Nice. Sucks you fell good you didnt get messed up. Did it make you miss red mesa?

  11. #11
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    Below is the bikepacking trip I did last weekend in the Chain of Craters area. This map, also linked to above by warimono shows most of the areas I mention.

    Don't mean to clog the feed here but I thought y'all might find this useful info.

    Grants NM Rides-img_0817.jpg

    7/6/2013: I caught the CDT off of County Road 42 (also called the Chain of Craters Back Country Byway) about 8 miles south of 53. The turn off to 42 is just west of the Bandera Ice Caves entrance. There is a bulletin board and trailhead marker for the CDT on 42 and I headed west on the trail which snaked around between some of the volcanic cones. It is well marked with cairns but this section is also fairly well worn by travelers and animals so easy to follow. Its not smooth singletrack, but it is very pretty and takes you through some more densely forested areas.

    Grants NM Rides-img_0829.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0834.jpg

    However, this section of CDT trail is short lived (or at least I lost it). Instead it linked me up with some of the many dirt logging roads in the area after about 5 miles.

    Grants NM Rides-img_0836.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0846.jpg

    For this trip, once I got back to CR42, I went east and camped just at the edge of the malpais where there is a road that leads through a spooky lava flow studded forest. Got a good soaking that night – lots of drizzles and then about an hour of earnest downpour. I stayed nice and dry underneath my tarp (which I had just seam sealed – glad it worked!!)

    Grants NM Rides-img_0857.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0858.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0859.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0851.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0856.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0852.jpg

    The next day I went through the spooky forest and into what is called “hole in the wall.” This is a large grassland expanse in the center of the larger el malpais lava flow (its very evident on any map). In all of this I did cross a few sections of private land, but the roads are public and the only rule is to leave the gates closed so cattle do not get out. Still, I did not see another soul on the entire journey. This area is super remote and lovely and the roads are all growing over with grasses making for a very special seeming area.

    Grants NM Rides-img_0839.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0842.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0862.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0868.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0873.jpg

    After exiting the Hole in the Wall on the south I was expecting to be able to ride up the western side of the flow and back to CR42. However, what appeared to be a dirt road deadended at a cattle tank. There were vestiges of old logging roads, but they were so overgrown I could not find my way.

    Grants NM Rides-img_0870.jpg

    With the only way to go being south, I rode and rode until I finally crossed another section of the CDT at which point I headed west thinking I would cross either 42 or some other N-S road.

    Grants NM Rides-img_0889.jpg

    I ended up riding 15 or so miles totally overland, no trails, following rock cairns across a very bumpy grassland landscape. I cursed a lot, too. It was a little brutal. When I finally emerged at 42, I realized I was still about 20 miles from my car at the southern trailhead for the CDT at a volcanic cone called Cerro Brilliante (which you can see way in the distance in the pic of the cairn below). I rode this area last fall and tried to follow the CDT north from here. It petered out and I eventually lost the trail and doubled back.

    Grants NM Rides-img_0890.jpg

    In all, this was supposed to be about 35-40 miles over two days. Ultimately, it was 75 miles. This is a very weird and alien seeming landscape which is not very “typical” of any riding I have done elsewhere. Lots of lava rock to ride over which were hard on my tires. The paths and roads are all pretty rough. Trails in particular are largely forged by cattle which chew it up and make for a bumpy experience. There is hardly any water anywhere. Maps show a variety of tanks and “lagoons” (some man-made, some natural depressions) but very few of these had anything in them. BRING WATER. Also, BRING A MAP or other device that can help you orient yourself. Its very expansive, very remote, and not many people pass through, so you need to keep your head on straight and not get turned around. I always carry a compass, usually printout some kind of map and use my phone’s GPS. After this trip, I am considering a SPOT tracker.

    At the same time, in my two days of riding I saw: a bull snake, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, a burro, a female elk with two young'ns, a screech owl, nighthawks, all kinds of crazy geological formations and some amazing vistas. Its very wild country.

    Grants NM Rides-img_0984.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-img_0883.jpg

    Plus this is what greeted me at the end of the trip:

    Grants NM Rides-img_0911.jpg

    Personally, I enjoy the Zuni mountain area much more. I have not ridden at the northwestern end of the range, but there is a lot of great stuff on the southeastern end to explore. Not so much singletrack, but plenty of old logging roads, old homestead ruins, lots of wildlife, aspen forests, some challenging climbs and astounding views from the divide. But, the forest land is closed at the moment, so that’s off the table for now.

    Grants NM Rides-photoaa.jpg

    Grants NM Rides-photo-18.jpg
    Last edited by wahday; 07-11-2013 at 09:40 AM.

  12. #12
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    Well done. Great travelogue and amazing trip. That's an area I've traveled extensively by truck because I'm not man enough to do it by bike. Thanks for sharing it.

  13. #13
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    It's awesome you could go through all that and still wind up only 20 miles from your car...Pretty sure I would have ended up a dried carcass and sun bleached bones.....Bravo wahday. Well done and an enjoyable read!

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