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TRAIL HAPPENINGS March 2014

Klonzo Loops: Fun Run in the Sun
Article by Karen Wenzel
Photographs by Sandy Freethey, Bill Reddington, and Karen Wenzel

Searching for a sunny and scenic run during the shorter daylight hours in March gave me incentive to drive 10 miles north of Moab to explore the Klonzo Mountain Bike Trail System as a cross-country running route.

As I turn off Highway 191 to the right (east) onto Willow Springs Road, the contrast of the turquoise stripe in the hills captures my gaze. I drive along the hard-packed sandy road for about 2.7 miles to the Klonzo Trailhead. At the trailhead is a very detailed map, a description of each loop, and how they connect, so I don’t need to worry about where to go, just how long I want to be out. This makes it easy to get rolling since my car is never too far away.

I’ve decided my best loop combo of seven connecting loops [is?] to head up a gentle hill to the right, Borderline. I run a few minutes up a smooth, undulating hill when I see another detailed map with choices to make. The sun is warm and still high, so I decide to head off to Wahoo, the top loop of the trail system. Views are spacious as the trail shifts to more slickrock with fun contours. Now that I’ve reached the highest section of the loop at Wahoo, I have a panoramic view. It’s worth twirling around to see the La Sals covered in new snow ahead, Arches to the east, then Klondike Bluffs further north. No one is around.

All I can hear is my breath and heart beat. The warm sun on my face and the incredible views slow my pace for a moment. I wish I could hang there and soak up the wonderful feeling a bit longer, but happily, as I descend from this point, the views of Arches and Klondike continue to amaze me.

I’m now headed to the lower loops, which connect to Boondocks at the bottom. There are endless combinations to consider—or not consider—because you cannot get lost. Even if somehow you skip a loop, it’s easy to pick it up later. Whichever way your feet take you, you will be headed to Boondocks after reaching the top of Wahoo.

While the surface and terrain change, I feel a rollercoaster effect to my stride, slowly running up a few steeper but short hills, then my feet fly down the fast descents. The elevation is 4,400’ at the parking lot, and the total altitude gain is 400’ to the top of Wahoo with lots of rollers in between. If running all the trails is your goal, you’ll get 11 to 12 miles with 1,500 vertical feet. Each loop has unique geologic features. Sandstone sculptures outline much of the trail, and junipers, cactus, and various desert plants grow out of the sandstone floor. Red rock rims seem to separate each loop. The salt wash you cross on Boondocks is a member of the late Jurassic Period’s Morrison Formation, about 140 million years old. When I return to the top of Boondocks, another yellow smiley face on the map lets me know where I am.

The sun has lasted longer than I had expected, so I run a little faster and take the extended route. All loops completed, I finally descend Borderline back to the car. The sun is going down fast as dark shadows begin to roll quickly into my sunny oasis. The sky turns a warm, pinkish orange as I just beat the last remaining rays of sunshine, and those turquoise hills once again catch my gaze as they turn blue in the sunset.

Even though this run is not an out-and-back or long-loop adventure run, the trail bends and rolls with surprising new vistas around every corner. The trails are smooth and have easy footing, so you can knock out a great training run or a scenic jog with your furry, four-legged best friend. Inexpensive, detailed Klonzo Mountain Bike Trail System maps created by Moab Trails Alliance and Trail Mix are available at the bike shops. So, go get loopy and have a fun run in the sun!

Karen Wenzel runs trails, rides mountain bikes, and skis throughout Colorado and Utah. When in Moab, she builds trails with the Trail Mix crew


 
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