IF YOU GO

What: Road Apple Rally


When: Oct. 5


Where: Lions Wilderness Park, 5800 College Blvd., Farmington


Details: Each year, 200 to 300 mountain bikes compete in the race. It started in 1981 as a competition between horses and bicycles, according to the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau. It offers four divisions: beginner, sport, expert and pro. The beginner and sport course is 15 miles, and the expert and pro course is 30 miles.


More info: -599-1140 and www.roadapplerally.com.

FARMINGTON — It may seem funny that mountain biking is such a popular sport in a place where there are no mountains. But in exploring some of the trails in the high desert region, one can see why people come from all over to experience what this unique part of the country has to offer for two wheels.

Foothills, Kinsey's, the Glade, Road Apple -- all of these names refer to parts of the 30-plus miles of single-track mountain bike trails on the mesa north of Farmington.

 

Road Apple

The Road Apple trail is home to the Road Apple Rally, the oldest continuously running mountain bike race in the United States, according to the City of Farmington. It takes place the first weekend of October each year. This year's race wil be held Oct. 5.

Beginning at the north end of Foothills Drive, the trail reaches deep into the Glade Run Recreation Area with the Road Apple East and the Road Apple West making up an almost continuous loop ending at Lion's Wilderness Park.

There are, however, many opportunities to make smaller loops on the end close to the trailhead that make the area perfect for getting a quick ride in after work.

Any given evening or weekend morning, you will see the parking area at the trailhead filled with cars of people biking, walking and running the trail. But users spread out quickly, and rarely does the trail itself have a crowded feel.

 

Alien Run

The Alien Run trail system north of Aztec in Hart Canyon is a bit farther, especially for those who live in Farmington, but is a perfect destination for a half-day adventure.

The Alien Run is also a widely popular mountain bike race held every spring. It is named for a UFO crash site that some believe happened just off the trail. The site is marked with a sign a couple of miles in.

Molly Maxwell   Special to the Daily Times
Molly Maxwell Special to the Daily Times (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)
Know Where You're Going
  • The City of Farmington's bike map includes a brief overview of the trail system.
  • For more detail, distance and topographical information, Singletrack Maps prints a map of Phil's World that includes the Road Apple and Alien Run on the back.

You can ride five miles, seven miles, nine miles or 19 miles, and each route includes a little bit of everything as far as landscape goes.

Finding the trailhead can be a little tough. Coming from downtown Aztec, drive north on U.S. Highway 550 for about four miles. At mile marker 164, take a right onto County Road 2770. After 2.7 miles, take a left turn at a gas compressor station onto another dirt road. Go about half a mile, and at the top of the hill there is a cattle guard, take an immediate right after this. This road is about half a mile and ends at the trailhead, where there is also a relatively large parking area.

 

Phil's World

About an hour and a half's drive to Cortez, Colo., can bring you to Phil's World, a favorite among local riders, pros and traveling mountain bikers. A team endurance race, 12 Hours of Mesa Verde, takes place here every spring.

Leave town early to go to Phil's World, because you will want to devote a whole day to it. The trail system's shape could be compared to a three-leaf clover, with countless options of routes to take.

Phil's World's most notable feature is the Ribcage, which takes you on a roller coaster ride of single-track you will not forget.

Maps are located at every intersection of trail. Most are in good condition, but it is nice to have a map of the area for yourself, as well. Make sure to bring more than enough water, since you may decide to stay out longer than originally planned. From Farmington, take La Plata Highway until it intersects with Highway 160 in Hesperus, Colo. Take a left on 160 and drive 29.4 miles. The entrance is on the right, between the fairgrounds and a shooting range.

 

Molly Maxwell covers the outdoors for The Daily Times. She can be reached at mollykmaxwell@gmail.com.