Vernal - Fruita
ver·nal adjective \ˈvər-nəl\
Definition of VERNAL
1: of, relating to, or occurring in the spring
2: fresh or new like the spring; also : youthful
A new location, new trails, new bike, and a Spring-time tradition continues. How ironic that Vernal can be used as an adjective and as a noun here. A perfect combination.
I thought hard about splitting this trip into two parts, but the theme carries through and I'll keep it together. I saw parts of Colorado I have never seen, and spent a few days in Vernal, Utah and then almost directly south in Fruita, Colorado.
Why Vernal, Utah? Well, over the past few years, there has been some hyping of the area. Moab without the crowds, singletrack everywhere, lot's of Dinosaurs, and a bike shop owner who's poured his heart and soul into developing a destination. This northeastern town is actually larger than Moab, so there are quite a few more amenities than usual. Heck, we counted six Subway shops. Oil and gas booms create towns out here and while I wouldn't say that the industry brings mountain bikers, they have made it a part of their tourism plan.
We arrived in town on Friday afternoon, after driving from Golden via Rifle, Co. We unloaded the Beast, surveyed the cabin, drank a beer, and decided a ride in the remaining daylight was in order. A quick stop at Altitude Bike Shop, and Troy Lupcho gave us the skinny, maps, and some admiration for the Rocky Mountain Altitudes sitting on my car rack. Yes, we spent some money there as well. I think it's good to support the local guy.
Our stop for the day was McCoy Flats. This BLM area has miles of handcrafted cross-country singletrack. Troy has lead the charge to build here and he has done a great job in defining and signing the trails.
They certainly didn't send out the welcome brigade, but that is one of the reasons we wanted to try Vernal. No crowds!
Everything seems to start from this lot, with two huge loops. One to the West (Got Milk) and One to the East ( And Cookies). Each of these have off-shoots as well. We decided on the Western side, in search of some more "techy" trail.
And we searched singletrack that seemed go go on forever.
Check the map, Keith! It has to go into the hills somewhere.
While we didn't find overly technical trails, we did enjoy the fast buffed singletrack. We tried to hit as many as we could. Ultimately, we settled on trails like More Hoes, Retail Sale, and Fire Sale.
We put together a nice loop with some ups...
While not every trail has a sign, you know you are on the right path when you see landmarks. They've done a unique job of marking trails with old bike parts and tools (More "Hoes").
We were all feeling good and the occasional rock was always attempted.
At some point (after a LONG steep climb), we made it to the top of the mesa. Do you know when you have reached perfect signletrack? When you can't even see it.
I am pretty sure this was the view from the top of the mesa.
After an unnerving ride along a narrow ridge (I think it was worse that Zippadee Doo Dah, but others disagreed), we did a steep decent down the ridge and back to the truck.
Day 2 in Vernal and the weather wasn't looking so hot, but we gave it the fighting chance. Figuring that we hit the perfect opportunity in the cloud formations, we headed to a dry (to start) Red Fleet Reservoir. A quick stop for some Uinta Mountains scenery and onto the red dirt trails.
The trails here are relatively new. Some of them weren't even on the map we had, though they were signed. I couldn't remember all of the trails, though I think most of what we rode was Handsome Cabin Boy and JBoy (which I am sure is short for something not-so-nice). The colors were spectacular which more than made up for the route-finding. These two trails seemed to criss-cross each other multiple times.
Much of the riding here, reminded me of Sedona, Arizona.
We were fighting the weather by now. A light grapple was falling and we knew once this soil collected moisture, we'd be stuck in clay.
We waited out the worst part under a pinion tree and then left in a hurry. It would have been nice to explore some more, but it wasn't in the cards.
Day 3 in Vernal brought improved weather. So much so, that we did two rides. The first ride was just west of McCoy flats at a set of trails known as the Racetrack and Corkscrew. We put both of these loops together for one ride. The first half (Racetrack) was just constant pedal buffed singletrack.
Like most of the other trails in this area, expect to see some unique "lawn art" along the way.
The second half (Corkscrew) starts with some long singletrack, followed by a gentle climb, and then a steep final push.
Eventually, we make it to the top of a beautiful mesa pasture with fantastic views.
And a rip roaring downhill back to the trailhead!
While some would say it wasn't worth the climb, I liked it.
Last edited by schnauzers; 04-26-2013 at 08:56 PM.
The second half of the ride involved a trip back to McCoy Flats, where we met up with Troy. He informed us that we had to do Serendipity. Ok, when the builder tells you which trail, you ride the trail
We climbed up "and Cookies". An enjoyable climb.
Reaching the top, there was really no incorrect guess at what we would experience. The picture tells it all.
Brakes? We don't need no stinking brakes.
This thing went on forever. I think I even got a little cocky at times, I will even say borderline out of control.
Mile for mile this trail was a blast. Well worth the pain of a second ride.
Off to Fruita and a beautiful drive over some "I don't know the name" pass from Rangley, CO. The beast had the check engine light go on just before the climb up the pass. Diesel + check engine = I have no idea. So, we pulled over and started to look at the manual. It could be anything (I have it chipped, so that makes things a little tougher). A CDOT worker pulled over to help. Great customer service and really not expected. He had us follow him to a local shop and the mechanic hooked it up to the computer. The little I know about these things turned out to be it, Just the DPF complaining that it hadn't had enough "rough" driving to regenerate. Thank you EPA. Back on the road and flooring it up the pass solved the problem.
I've never been a fan of crowded trails. Ironic, since I volunteer as a mountain bike patroller. So we barely avoided the Fat Tire Festival. That makes eight years in Colorado and no attendance at FFTF. I know, anti-social. Nah, I just like to go fast and not deal with bottlenecks and a thousand people fighting for the beer tent.
We stopped in town, hit up Over The Edge and some grub at Suds. Then it was on to 18 Road.
Bill was in the zone, though he blew up his fork in Vernal. Yes, he McGyvered it together and got two inches of travel. He was a trooper and insisted on riding it.
It's been a while since I have ridden here and a new trail has gone in since (PBR). So a climb up to give PBR a whirl! You'll probably see this pic a million times (with a different bike) in the coming week.
What can I say about PBR? Probably the most fun I have had on a trail in a long time. Just enough jumps and berms to keep me smiling without getting crazy! I love the idea of uphill and downhill only trails.
How about another loop? Sure! Climb up again and the crew decides to hit Zippity Doo Da. Oh, hell no. I'll do Kessel Run instead. I am deathly afraid of heights. The exposure (double sided) scares the crap out of me. I bow to peer pressure.
Surprisingly, I did much better than the last time I rode this. I only walked two pieces and they weren't the exposure areas. Next time! Yeah, next time for sure.
I hate it when vacations go so quickly. Last day of riding and we needed something just a little bit more. Though it's been around a while, The Zion Curtain was new to all of us. Literally a step across the boarder into Utah (hence, Zion), this multi-use (moto and bike) trail offers a little of everything, with some mileage, views, and a connection to the Kokopelli's Trail.
The beast got us pretty far in. Most would ride the dirt road to the trailhead, but nothing is out of reach in F350 land.
A quick jaunt under the bridge of Route 70 and we were on the way!
This is "moab-ish" desert riding without the extra 40 minute drive.
Bill's Titus finally gave up the ghost on 18 Road, so he rented an Altitude and joined the 650B club. I still don't think he realizes how much better he did riding that thing.
I think this trail ranks up there with one of my favorites, Sovereign Trail in Utah. Awesome singletrack that the motos really take pride in keeping singletrack. Fast in places and technical in others. The BLM has done a great job in signing it.
I have a feeling this will not be crowded during FFTF. Just a little out of the way, but worth it all around.
The best trail of the week also turned in the best weather of the week. PERFECTION!
There were many incredible moments on this trip, but none bring more joy than being with my friends, doing what we love, in one of the most beautiful places on Earth!
The La Sal and Porcupine Rim. Looks like it will be a while before the Whole Enchilada is ready for riding.
Reaching the top only promised an incredible descent down to the Kokopelli's Trail. I'm not capturing it in the photos (having too much fun riding), but this was some gnarly good fun (I think my video will show some of that)!
At the bottom, we meet up with the Kokopelli's Trail. I'm all too familiar with this monster. Did it twice. Done that.
That's OK. We explore a little, check out a fake slot, and head home from another desert adventure.
Not sure what to say... wow. Good stuff.
Originally Posted by trialsguy315
Was debating doing Zion tomorrow morning. I think you just sealed the deal.
The landscape is so majestic. The pics and ride report is entertaining. Makes me want to visit there one day. Thanks for sharing Schnauzers!
Eat your veggies
Looks like a great trip. I got to do PBR last summer. It was definately worth the climb.
"There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea
Thanks for the trip report. Looks like a blast!
Nice report! too bad you had to grapple with graupel.
Loved the trip report. Good stuff.
The vernal trails looked quite vernal.
I was able to do the McCoy flats trails a few years ago but it looks like I need to get back out there and ride some more.
"If it didn't hurt when you screw up, it wouldn't be half as exciting when you dont." cdburch
Had to google map to refresh my memory of where the heck Vernal is, anyway. Was through there the last time on the way to a river trip. A lot of dinosaur-themed stuff in town, as i recall.
Mr. June Bug and I do an annual trip "out West" and I like the idea of miles of buff single track. We're geezin' along in our 60s and usually riding alone, so "not so technical" trails in the middle of nowhere sounds just right. Now added to the to-do list!
Great trip report and gorgeous country!
We need to hit the 18 Road area again; thanks for the reminder on how much fun you can have there.
Dude, GREAT report. I HAVE to get out west one day.
60's is the new 30's. The town has a brewery (soon to be two). That's my calling card!
Originally Posted by June Bug
Thanks, or no thanks. I just got so excited, I packed and thru my bike in my "Beast". Will be there shortly.
Saddle up, Effendi. We ride.
UtahMountainBiking dot Com: click here for an inventory (with brief descriptions) of trails in the Vernal/Flaming Gorge Reservoir area - there are a lot!
Always enjoy reading your post, thanks for sharing those beautiful pictures......
A person who never made a mistake,
never tried anything new..... Albert Einstein
Super great write-up, and your images as always are fantastic. Have never been as far north as Vernal, but now it is on the radar for sure.
Thanks for the share and many long minutes of daydreaming while reading and enjoying your pixles.
"...when your ride is nearly over, it seems to have lasted but an instant..."
Great pics, I always prefer the less crowded trails.
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