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Trail HAPPENINGS August 2015

Keen on Riding the Mountains? Here’s a trail for you!
by Brooks Carter

When summer rolls around with its triple digit heat, it’s time to hit the mountains, and one of the favorite trail systems in the La Sals is the Whole Enchilada. In the past, bikers finishing the Hazzard County section had to take a predominantly straight, two track dirt road - the Kokopelli Trail – to get to UPS. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fun on Kokopelli seeing how fast I can go without crashing, but the new Jimmy Keen Trail gives you an option that is predominantly singletrack.

This new intermediate trail was started last year and is now finished thanks to the Forest Service crews, Moab Mountain Bike Association (MMBA), volunteers, and Rim Tours who provided meals for the volunteers. The last section of trail, finished this year, is still a little rough but is being ridden into shape. Additionally, the long awaited wooden bridges are now in place. Last year you had to ride through really deep and sometimes wet ravines, but now you fly above it all on the bridges. Another issue that developed last year was cattle cueing up at the cattle guards along the fences and ogling that “greener” grass on the other side. This resulted in the trail being mutilated by a thousand deep hoof prints. One rancher claims that one or two of the bovines actually made the great escape over the cattle guard. So, the Forest Service installed what looks like wooden loading chutes leading up to the cattle guards and it appears to have stopped most of the hoof prints and escapees.

After you have finished riding Hazzard County, there are two ways to get on Jimmy Keen. You can proceed down Kokopelli for about .1 mile and look for the sign on the left side of the road or you can go right a short distance on the La Sal Loop Rd. to the Castle Valley overlook parking area and follow the sign. When I started my last ride there at about 10 o’clock on a July morning, things couldn’t have been better. The temperature was about 60˚ F, the sun was shining and the flowers were going absolutely bonkers. The ride starts in a scrub oak “forest” and twists its way through thick patches of blue lupines leaning into the trail. After about a quarter of a mile, the trail opens up to a wide open grassy hillside where you can fly downhill through wide, banked turns before entering the next oak section. The open areas also afford magnificent views of the red rock canyons far below. Just past the first wooden bridge the trail starts climbing toward the first cattle guard. And this is how the trail goes for about 7 miles – a little climbing (over 300’), a little more downhill (over 500’); some open sections, some wooded sections - until you get to the start of UPS. If you would prefer not to ride the more difficult Hazzard County and UPS trails, another option for this trail is to do it as a stand-alone, 10 mile intermediate loop by riding back up to the La Sal Loop Rd after you get to the start of UPS.

There is some rock on Jimmy Keen, but most of it is dirt. Much of the dirt is clay which means that if there has been substantial rain recently, you should check the trail condition. If it is wet and soft, it’s better to ride Kokopelli because not only will you create ruts in the trail, but the sticky clay mud will collect on your tires until - no kidding - they will no longer turn through the fork.

To find Jimmy Keen, go south out of Moab on Hwy. 191 for about 8 miles where you will see the turn to Ken’s Lake/La Sal Loop Rd. Go left and at the T intersection, turn right. From there after going about 17 miles, you will see the turn off to Sand Flats Rd. Go past that another 2.5 miles and you’ll see the Kokopelli Trail on your left and in another .1 mile you’ll be at the over look to Castle Valley.

Brooks Carter is a mountain bike guide at Rim Tours. As a volunteer for Trail Mix, he designed & helped build EKG, Mega Steps, Little Salty, UFO, Alaska, Nome, Homer, Miner’s Loop, Azurite, Malachite, Sidestep, Instep and Houdini trails.



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