Kokopelli Trail (Bikepacking Route + Porcupine Rim)

  • Distance

    158 Mi.

    (254 KM)
  • Days

    3-5

  • % Unpaved

    85%

  • % Singletrack

    25%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    6.5

  • % Rideable (time)

    99%

  • Total Ascent

    15,189'

    (4,630 M)
  • High Point

    8,580'

    (2,615 M)
The Kokopelli Trail (AKA Kokopelli's Trail) is a classic bikepacking route connecting the two mountain biking nerve centers of Fruita and Moab (1/3 of the total ‘Grand Loop’). The route is an epic medley of singletrack, doubletrack, sand and tarmac… technical climbs, rugged descents, and graded terrain.
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IMPORTANT NOTICE: The La Sal Loop Road will be undergoing construction this spring/summer, 2017 and portions of it will be closed, including a section of it that is used by the Kokopelli Trail. The road is scheduled to open on weekends after May 27th. Unfortunately, there is no way around it and riders will need to exit out Castle Valley (mile 128) to get to Moab.

Find a detailed guide on the route below including parking, resupply and how to plan the perfect trip. Here’s what several members of our four-top riding group had to say:

“The Kokopelli Trail is a beautiful route winding from Fruita to Moab that combines primitive roads of all varieties with surprisingly technical single track to keep you guessing about what lies around each bend. Starting in the east, the route becomes richer and the landscapes more Mars-like with each mile you travel towards the canyon lands of the high Utah desert. Sand, dirt, gravel, slick rock, creek crossings, you name it. Two long climbs topping out at 8400′ will test your fitness and the final descent along Porcupine Rim will blow your mind. This is the way to enter Moab!” – Joel Caldwell (joelcaldwell.com)

“The Kokopelli Trail is a vintage route ridden and raced long before doing stuff like this was popular. Classics have a way of seeming passé—almost a cliché—and you might therefore be tempted to skip it. That was my fool’s attitude in spite of pedaling and adventuring in that corner of Utah for decades. I was being silly: the Kokopelli is a tremendously satisfying and fun bikepack, from the mildly technical and impossibly beautiful singletrack out of Fruita, to soaring grinding climbs, red desert canyons, rugged sandstone ridges, to the must-not-skip roaring bucking descent on Porcupine Rim down to Moab. Find an extra-long weekend and do this ride.”
– Joe Cruz (Pedaling in Place)

“Kokopelli taught me the length of a desert mile. Non-stop vistas of far away mountains and canyons might lure one into a sort of topographic pomposity. But they’re even farther than you think. The true scale of this landscape is only appreciated after much concentrated, technical riding on so called “dirt roads”, long descents and climbs out of the smallest of canyons, and by peering off the edge of the rim into an endless void of night.” – Skyler Des Roches (OffRoute.ca)

  • Highlights

  • Must Know

  • Camping

  • Food/H2O

    💧

  • Trail Notes

  • A fantastic bikepacking route to gather a group of friends for a long weekend ride.
  • An amazing backcountry site overlooking Yellow Jacket Canyon and Viewpoint Arch.
  • Enjoying the singletrack ride on the Western Rim trail (a slight derivation from the classic route).
  • Crossing the La Sal mountain range.
  • An epic sunset descent down the Porcupine Rim Trail.
  • This route can be ridden from March or April until September or October, but can be very hot in the summer and have snow in the higher elevations in the transitional months. It is very important to check the conditions and weather forecast in advance to assure a safe passage.
  • The highest point on the trail is over 8,500 feet in the La Sals; check snow pack in the area via Google Earth.
  • There are some fairly challenging technical sections along the route, prepare for a little hike-a-bike.
  • Touring time is typically 3 days, but 4 or 5 may be more enjoyable.
  • The main map for the area is the Latitude 40 Fruita Grand Junction Colorado Trails map which can be purchased at Over The Edge in Fruita.
  • There are plenty of camping options along the way including wild camping and established campgrounds.
  • Several popular established sites include Rabbit Valley and Castle Rocks which are a little over 20 miles from the Loma Trailhead and are also a great place to cache water (see below); the next option is Westwater, which is adjacent to the Westwater Ranger Station where you’ll find water in a spigot; After that there is Fish Ford, Dewey Bridge, and Castle Valley. See map above for more.
  • Wild camping is mostly prohibited in McInnis Canyons National Preserve, but after leaving that area, wild camping spots are abundant.
  • There are no food resupply points on route; in Fruita, the City Market is a well-priced and fully stocked grocer, Hot Tomato has excellent pizza and taps, and Aspen Street Coffee is a good place to caffeinate and internet.
  • It is advised to cache water along the route (especially if you are already shuttling from Moab to Fruita); one great spot is Rabbit Valley which is about 20 miles from Loma Trailhead (or 29 from Fruita); we chose to cam there for the night and took advantage of a cache of water and a couple post-ride beers.
  • There are few sources for water along the route; dependable options include Westwater Ranger Station (a 2 mile detour to refill from a spigot), and Buck Spring just before Dewey Bridge (see map above); there is also a running spring on Las Sal Loop road.

Route Staging and Start

Although the route can be ridden in either direction, but most prefer a southwest flow from Fruita to Moab which enables a legendary finale down Porcupine Rim. There are a couple of options for staging and parking; as advised by folks at Over The Edge bike shop, we chose to leave a vehicle in the parking lot behind Suds Brothers Brewery in downtown Fruita. This requires a 9 mile pavement ride to the Kokepelli’s Trailhead, but offers a safe parking solution. It is possible to leave a vehicle at the Loma trailhead, but may be a little more risky. In Moab, a great place to drop a vehicle is the Information Center; make sure to leave your name and contact info at the desk.

Following the Route

Kokepelli’s Trail is part of the Grand Loop, a much larger bikepacking route that utilizes Kokopelli’s Trail system, The Paradox Trail, and Tabegauche Trail. Parts of the trail are used by jeeps, ATVs, and motorcycles. The trail is signposted with blue and white logo stickers as well as brown arrow signs along the way. From the trailhead at Loma, after a quick gravel traverse, the route starts with 10+ miles of mesa singletrack overlooking the Colorado River. A few miles after Rabbit Valley it is highly recommended to take the scenic off-route detour on the Western Rim trail.

Links and Resources

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on BIKEPACKING.com, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. BIKEPACKING.com LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

Tags

  • http://bradgoesbiking.com Brad

    Great write up and awesome pics. We unfortunately got rained out and weren’t able to do the length of the trail this past weekend. Luckily we were still able to find fun rideable trails near Moab and caught the western rim trail along with some camping in rabbit valley on our last day. Definitely will have to give it another go some day. I’ve been wanting to ride Porcupine Rim Trail for a while now! Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks Brad… great to meet you on the trail! Bummer about the weather; we rode it out in Fruita. Porcupine Rim is definitely special, I’d like to get up there and ride it unloaded as well. Good luck with that Canadian fanny pack thing ;)

  • Matthew Liggett

    Thanks for the site, guys. As with all your content, it’s super useful. Succinct, well-organized, and well-presented.

    I’m often trying to figure out if I can make a given trip work via Amtrak/Bus or if I’ll have to fly and rent a car. For example, Grand Junction Amtrak station (GJT) has checked baggage service and is pretty close to the start. Timetable is at https://www.amtrak.com/california-zephyr-train

    What do you think of adding this info to the Trail Notes section?

  • Cass Gilbert

    I think that’s a great idea. I’m always trying to use public transport to get to places when I can – though it’s often something of a challenge in the US, and can take some deciphering. Where possible, I think it would be very useful info to include.

  • Mary Taylor

    Do you think this route is rideable with small sections of hike-a-bike on a Surly Straggler set up with 650b x 42mm tires?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Hi Mary. I wouldn’t ride this route with anything more narrow than a 2.2. There’s a good bit of technical singletrack on route as well as a few stretches of sand…

  • Mary Taylor

    THANK YOU! We might go with the Coconino Loop anyways! That on mountain bikes, for sure. Thanks for the awesome reviews on these routes… very helpful!

  • nhltfour

    What about a Niner RLT9 steel???!!!

  • Miles Arbour

    Rode the route this past week from April 18th – 21st , conditions were prime. Only a bit of snow on the sides of road up in higher elevation, water at Westwater Station, most springs / streams were dry.

    Made it a mission to bring our drone, 2 DSLRs and a GO PRO for each rider. Trip video coming this week. Will post the link when it is ready!

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    I personally wouldn’t do it on anything other than a hardtail MTB, an FS bike, or a rigid plus or fatbike.

  • Miles Arbour

    Group shot!

  • Tom Hoppe

    You said springs were dry. Where did you guys grab water? I’m planning on a May 5-7th ride. Was wondering if the 3 spots that are mapped above (Westwater Ranger Station, Spring before Dewey Bridge, Castle Creek) had water, as those seem about perfect.

  • Miles Arbour

    Hi Tom – Westwater Ranger Station had their truck / water tank out. Non-potable though, so bring aqua-tabs and/or a stove to boil. The Spring before Dewey was completely dried out. We ended up pumping water from the Colorado that night and morning, bring a thin cloth to help filter out the dirt from the river. Not sure on castle creek, there was snow and a few running streams in the higher elevation spots, so that area shouldn’t be a problem. I think a small pump and an extra fuel canister is a good idea though!

  • Tom Hoppe

    Thanks for the beta! Non-potable means you can just filter/treat it right? I’ve got a Steripen, so I’m assuming that would be ok for both the Ranger station and the Colorado….

  • Miles Arbour

    No problem! Correct – although the big thing with taking water from the river is all of the silt (the water is quite brown), so getting all of that dirt filtered before using the Steripen would be key.

    Once we got past Dewey Bridge, and we started climbing, the water we found was very clear. Just needed to be purified.

    Plan on carrying enough water for a day of riding + what you need to cook + extra for the morning just in case. It paid off to have an extra litre or two packed in two of our frame bags for cooking and for morning drinking water.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Unless you know you want to make it to Westwater on day 1, if you have time beforehand, cache some water at Rabbit Valley for night 1/day 2.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Nice! Keep me posted on the video: pedalingnowhere at gmail

  • Miles Arbour

    Very good call – we were only lucky because we ran into a nice couple in Rabbit Valley who had plenty of water in their truck!

  • Miles Arbour

    Found running stream here: N38° 45.884′ W109° 13.857′ @bikepackingcom:disqus .

  • Tom Hoppe

    Thanks so much again guys for the info. I usually use my buff to filter stuff like that out. Might bring a cheesecloth that I can toss since it’s sounds like it’s pretty bad.

    Logan, I’m going to do a ride through, thinking 18-ish hours, so it seems to me, as long as I can get water in those 3 spots, I should be ok. Planning on carrying 140oz or so.

  • Joshua Willard

    Thoughts on riding this the first few days of July? I’ll do Alpine if you think it will be too hot in the mornings to ride.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    It really depends on your heat tolerance. It would certainly be hot in the desert sections.

  • Jeff Kane

    Are we good to park at the Loma side trailhead overnight for a few nights?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    That I do not know. I would call Over the Edge Sports and ask them…

  • Jeff Kane

    thanks, man

  • Jeff Kane

    So where do people park to start the trail if they are leaving a car?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Check out the description under Trail Notes.

  • Dani Schenk

    Thanks for all the info! I am doing this ride with a friend the first week in June, we are planning on caching water (and possibly food) for ourselves before starting the ride, but are a bit worried about it getting used. Are there good places to hide it?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Hi Dani. We found a good hiding place in the rocks behind a pullout camp spot in Rabbit Valley…

  • Arlan Gagestein

    Rode the trail May 11th and 12th solo and in reverse. It was my first experience on the Kokopelli. I had three water caches and camped at Dewey bridge. A very beautiful trail but the long mileage each day proved to be tough. I would do it again. Maybe take more time and with a friend.

  • Joshua Willard

    When are you headed out?? I’m in grand junction now and just saw your post. I’ll head out Wednesday AM but would wait to go with someone else, I’m solo

  • Nicolas Legorreta

    Hey! How can we get back to Colorado from moab?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Talk to the folks at Poison Spider. If they don’t have a shuttle they can point you to one…

  • Nicolas Legorreta

    Thanks!!

  • Chris Bohlender

    So we just completed the KOKOPELLI TRAIL with rzs. It was amazing… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIKIldNfD8s

  • Peter Sunden

    I’m interested in doing this ride November 21-25 (Thanksgiving week), I realize it is a bit late in the season but depending on conditions is anyone interested in joining me?

  • Cody H

    Were you able to figure out a shuttle from Moab back to Colorado? I have the same question, and would appreciate any insight you have

  • beob

    Rode the Kokopelli last week. I first stopped in Fruita and left my bike with Over The Edge. The guys there were extremely helpful with my setup and I highly recommend the shop. Next I drove the car to Moab and left it at the Moab Information
    Center. Just register with the counter before you leave. The following day I took the 9:15am bus from Moab to Green River with Elevated (http://elevatedtransit.com/) where you connect in time to a Greyhound bus to Grand Junction. From GJ I took a taxi to Fruita. You will arrive in Fruita around 1:30pm. Cost for the trip was $93 all fares included per person. In comparison: A shuttle from Moab to GJ will cost around $175. Check here for shuttle options: http://www.discovermoab.com/moabtransportation.htm

  • http://www.thcbiketours.com THCBikeTours.com

    Yes thanks! I’m driving up to recon.

  • Mike Page

    It appears that this route is potentially passable in mid to late april. What are the temps like? Does anyone know how to check weather for the route?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    We rode it in March. Check Fruita weather. The La Sals are where there could be snow.

  • Mike Page

    Awesome to hear! How where the temps?

  • Kris Quandt

    Watch out for 2017 road closures on the LaSal Loop Rd. http://www.utahmountainbiking.com/trails/LaSal-closure2017.htm

  • http://www.bikepacking.com Logan Watts

    Just added a notice from the Forest Service.

  • Mike

    Ranger station now says the construction was delayed for Spring 2017, road was muddy and could be closed another month until June per their Facebook page https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/82bddf64aa0f7794ba88ae03b5f458185b1dc653e31a90df96680c6bf99bd5a3.png

  • Mike

    Ranger station now says the construction was delayed for Spring 2017, road was muddy and could be closed another month until May 27 https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/82bddf64aa0f7794ba88ae03b5f458185b1dc653e31a90df96680c6bf99bd5a3.png per their Facebook page

  • Mike

    Might want to update with the latest, construction delayed now until May 27th.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com Logan Watts

    Done

  • Mike

    Thanks, our group found out about the closure from your original update and appreciate the work you put into the site!

  • Cynthia

    I’m planning a Bikepacking trip in Moab in July. Is it as hot as they say it is?

  • http://www.tomoab.com Ed Pfromer

    What’s the opinion on direction and time of year? My kid and I just attempted the Kokopelli over Easter weekend from Fruita to Moab and bailed at Dewey Bridge. Each day we started with 4L of water, but by noon were battling 20+ mph winds consistently which pummeled us. We were both bone dry by 5pm, and thank god for my wife providing support! We even topped off at Westwater, but the wind picked up big time at that point. My wife said she heard in Fruita, “Oh, it’s springtime with these winds.” We want to attempt again, but I think if we do it in the spring, we try for end of March and go from Moab to Fruita. That way we get the big climbs out when we are at our freshest. Thanks for any guidance.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com Logan Watts

    Oh yeah, it definitely could be… If I were to do a summer trip there I’d ride early (and at night), camp early, stay in the shade as much as possible, and cache water.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com Logan Watts

    Ah, bummer you had to bail. I think March is probably the ideal month. Then again, it depends on snowfall in the La Sals…

  • http://www.tomoab.com Ed Pfromer

    Thanks for the quick reply Logan. We are prepping to bikepack the Colorado Trail in July, and I thought the Kokopelli would be a good “wake up call” for us, and it was! We got great DSLR photos and GoPro vid along the way, plus we got my wife to cart us to the top of the trail in Moab, so we’re happy. But we will attempt again next year in March, and check with locals about snowfall in the La Sals.

  • AJ Kamish

    I am doing some planning to try and take this route in a couple of weeks and just got off the phone with the Moab Ranger Station (which were super helpful might I add). I just wanted to point out that there is another option to deal with the La Sal Loop Road closure. The woman I spoke with said that the Castle Valley exit takes you through a town and isn’t exactly remote, but that some folks will exit a little earlier (mile 104 on this route) to take Onion Creek all the way to Hwy 128 instead of Castle Valley because it goes through a narrower and much more remote canyon that is apparently gorgeous. I think thats the route we will take if we decide to go for it.

    Hope that helps someone!

  • Mike Page

    Thank you for the info! When are you going? We are looking for someone to split the shuttle back to fruita with…

  • Mike Page

    In regards to to the detour, couldn’t one wiggle around through pinhook to battleground rd and then do a hike-a-bike over to Jimmy Keen Trail? The terrain doesn’t look to rough but I cant exactly tell with google maps. I also can’t get an exact answer as to where the road is closed. Any input on this would be greatly appreciated.

  • AJ Kamish

    Me and two buddies are planning to hit the trail on Thursday May 18th I think. We’re still working exact details. We’ll be coming from the Eastern slopes here in CO so we are brainstorming the best logistical approach too. Do you know much about the shuttles? Shoot me an email at ajkamish@gmail.com if you want to try and figure out a shuttle!

  • AJ Kamish

    I talked to the Rangers yesterday and they said that La Sal Loop Rd is closed at Miner’s Basin/Battleground Rd all the way to Sand Flats Rd (which is way past down by Web Hallow Creek).

    We’re planning to exit from the trail at either Onion Creek (mile 104) or the suggested detour of Castleton Rd into Castle Valley at mile 128.

  • Mike Page

    I talked to them as well. I am not coming from Chicago to Moab to not ride porcupine rim… Not sure if you have a longitude 40 map but if you follow the roads through Pinhook Valley to Battleground Road (which I don’t beleive is closed) you come with in 3/4 mile to jimmy keen trail which connects to porcupine rim trail. I’m very willing to do a 3/4 mile hike a bike to get to the trail.

    I’m sure there is no way to tell if this is passable and I don’t expect the ranger station to tell me this is doable. I will let you know if it works. Sounds like you are going the week after me.

  • Andrew Bydlon

    We just completed the trail and unfortunately did run into the construction zone. They have an individual posted up at the La Sal Loop Rd who explained no one can pass. He also explained that even if he could let us through that the sheriff on the other side would be waiting to confiscate bikes and you would get them back on your court date. We didn’t know the truth attached to his statements but we were content not pushing our luck.

  • Andrew Bydlon

    You can cut cost by dropping everyone off in Fruita with the bikes and only shuttling a single individual back. We had estimates for shuttles between $100 and $225.

  • AJ Kamish

    Hey Andrew! Which route did you take to exit the trail then? Castle Valley? We are leaving for this trail in a week and trying to decide between Onion Creek and Castle Valley as our exit point. Might just decide as we go.

    Also, how was the weather/temps – especially in the section of the La Sal Mountains? I’m guessing it’ll be 80 something in the desert and 6 something in the mtns during the days and 50’s and 40s respectively for the lows.

    Lastly, Did you guys cache water at all or just refill at Westwater Ranger Station and a creek or two along the route? I would think that this time of year there are some solid creeks to refill at from snowmelt – especially closer to and in the La Sal.

    Thanks in advance for any insight!