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Western Colorado's Grand Valley

By Altrec.com Staff - May 1st, 2001

Western Colorado's Grand Valley is crisscrossed with an elaborate system of trails that leads hikers and bikers past scenic river bottoms, mountain forests and rugged deserts. Yet Kokopelli's Trail reigns supreme for both hardcore adventurers and low-key cyclists looking for a fun day trip.

The trail, which stretches 140 miles across U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands from Loma to Moab, Utah, was completed in 1989. Volunteers built it with the help of the BLM, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.

The name for the trail was taken from an Anasazi rock-art figure found all over the Colorado Plateau and along the path. The Kokopelli is a hump-backed flute player associated with the Flute Clan of the Hopi Indians. Legend has it that the figure could drive back winter with his music. He wandered from village to village with bags of corn and songs and, as a symbol of fertility, was welcome during spring planting.

Two Great Day Loops
Like the Kokopelli, the trail wanders throughout the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail System.

"There are two loops that make terrific day trips," said Kathy Voth, public affairs officers for the BLM. "Lions Loop runs 7.8 miles and can take between an hour and a half to three hours to complete. And Mary's Loop, which has a nice warm-up section, is 12.8 miles and takes about the same amount of time as Lions. The time it takes to ride either loop really depends on your skill and how often you want to stop to admire the scenery."

The BLM has recently completed a new loop, as yet unnamed, that splinters off the last portion of Lions Loop.

Voth suggests families head for Rabbit Valley -- located about 30 miles west of Grand Junction off exit 2 on Interstate 70 -- for easier terrain.

"The Knolls Canyon Overlook has a spectacular view," Voth said. "More importantly, it has a bathroom and developed campsites."

While mountain biking offers the public a chance to see parts of Colorado that are not accessible by car, people should always be prepared before they pedal down the road.

Be sure to pack enough water, said Steve Inglis of The Cycle Center in Grand Junction, Colo.

"By the time summer starts, and the temperatures run into the 90s, people won't realize how much they sweat," Inglis said. "You may not think you're exercising that much, but you'd be surprised how much water you body will lose. And there is no access to running water along the trail."

Trip Planner

Maps of Kokopelli's Trail and other mountain biking areas are available at the BLM, 2815 Road H in Grand Junction, Colo., or 885 Sand Flats Road in Moab, or any Grand Junction or Moab, Utah, bicycle shop.


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