Routes » Grand Loop

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Overview

The “Grand Loop” covers 360 miles of remote desert terrain between Moab and Grand Junction. The loop was officially finished in 1995 with the mapping of the Paradox Trail, the final link to the loop. The two other links are Kokopelli’s Trail (finished in 1989) and the Tabeguache Trail.

All three of these trails can be ridden themselves, or you can challenge them all. Some like to challenge themselves to ride the loop as quickly as possible. This page chronicles those efforts (see: Racing the Grand Loop).

Route Info

Not much singletrack was constructed for the Grand Loop. A few key pieces were needed to link existing dirt roads, and those were built by COPMOBA. But don’t let the lack of singletrack fool you — this is a rough and challenging ride.

Many of the 4×4 roads are technical enough to force dismounts and hiking. You will hike your bike, period. But the solitude, scenery and adventure afforded are unmatched, especially being so nearby to frequently ridden (Moab) trails and roads.

Services

There are few services on the route. If you follow the new (2005+) version of the Paradox Trail, there are actually no services. The Bedrock alternate on the Paradox takes you to the tiny town of Bedrock, where a small store with limited hours offers limited resupply. Nucla is also ~10 miles off route, and has cafes and a more substantial grocery store.

Seasons

Picking a good time to ride the Grand Loop is difficult. Snow typically lingers until late May or early June on the upper reaches of the Tabeguache Trail. Yet Kokopelli’s trail covers many a mile of low desert terrain that would be preferrable to ride in April, not June! Fall might be a tempting option, but key water sources may be dry, and lack of daylight is an issue.

Historically, most successful Grand Loop traverses have been in early June, but they have also involved a fair bit of night riding through the lower sections. It’s best to watch the conditions, particularly the snow levels. Some years it is possible to snipe a GL ride in May. Check the Columbine Pass snotel site for the latest conditions on the Uncompahgre Plateau.

Racing the Grand Loop

There is no set time or organized race on the Grand Loop. However, this page will serve to record all successful Grand Loop rides, and will rank them by time. In the true spirit of self-supported mountain biking, you are encouraged to ride the route whenever you see fit and report your time (and your experiences on the trail!). If you want to be on the course with other riders, see the Ultra Racing forum to coordinate with others. There is one such thread already.

Full Grand Loop (new Paradox Trail) Finishes

Stefan Griebel (2007) – 2:23:04 (report)

Grand Loop Bedrock Route

Dave Harris (2009) – 2:12:44 (SS)
Jefe Branham (2009) – 2:16:33 (SS)
Dave Harris (2007) – 2:19:18 (report)
Mike Curiak (2003) – 3:02:37 (report)
Scott Morris (2006) – 3:02:45 (report)
Gary Dye (2001) – 3:03:03
Fred Wilkinson (2007) – 3:04:35 (report)
Jefe Brahnam (2006) – 3:08:10
Chad Brown (2009) – 3:11:02 (Clockwise, SS)
Scott Morris (2009) – 3:11:02 (Clockwise)
Lynda Wallenfels (2012) – 3:11:33
Cat Morrison (2012) – 3:11:33
Matt Fletcher (2009) – 3:20:40
Stefan Griebel (2006) – 4:02:00
Dave Kirk (2008) – 4:18:30
Jim Leikert (2011) – 6:06:14

Please comment on this page (or send us email) if you have a Grand Loop time to report. Please note that to be considered for listing here you must follow the commonly established rules of self support (no crews, no caches, et cetera). If you have any questions about what this means, ask on the forum.

Grand Loop 2001
Grand Loop 2006
Grand Loop 2007 Updates
Grand Loop 2008

Maps, GPS Data




3D image from TopoFusion software – click to enlarge

No GPS Data, to preserve the mystique and adventure on this wild loop as long as we can. GPX now available in 2012!

GrandLoop-Bedrock Route-v1.gpx

Stay tuned for other files, such as the “Koski Traverse” and options for more singletrack coming into Grand Junction.

The official maps from COPMOBA can be found here (in PDF format):

COPMOBA Map Page

Links

Official Site
Tabeguache and Uncompahgre mini trail guide
Columbine Pass snotel site
Altrec.com GL route overview

Comments (10)

David KirkApril 9th, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Hey Scott,
Just a little surfing and found this page. Great job setting this up. Just to let you know, my time for 2008 was 4:18:30.(I had to stay out there to savor the adventure;). I really need to write it up.
Dave K

ScottMApril 12th, 2009 at 9:05 am

Thanks Dave. I added your time. Congrats on pushing through all that snow up there. Please post up when (not if) you finish the writeup.

[…] call it the Grand Loop Race.  It is underground meaning no support, no entry fees, no nothing.  You get yourself […]

A Loop Grand « Diary of Scott MorrisJune 9th, 2009 at 3:16 pm

[…] head north a few days later, determined to race the 360 mile Grand Loop, backwards. It had never been done before, but then there’s only a handful of people that […]

ScottMApril 21st, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Added Jim L’s 2011 finish time. Thanks for keeping the Grand Loop fire alive, Jim!

Bill HarrisJune 10th, 2012 at 12:06 pm

A Grand Loop primer
Back in 1994 I was joined by 6 other mountain bikers on the first known mountain bike ride of the
Grand Loop – an abbreviated version of the classic 360 mile race course. Our group covered 243 miles in 6 days. Our goal was to explore and soak it all in. We used little known shortcuts and variations to tie the
route together. We saw more bears than other mt. bikers. The ride was detailed in “Colorado Paradox” written by Fred Matheny in the July.1995 issue of “Bicycling” magazine. It is truly a one-of-a- kind tour.
I’m glad to see the spirit of long-distance riding is alive and well.

ScottMJune 10th, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Wow, Bill, I can only imagine the adventure you must have had out there! Thanks for the post. The spirit still loves on, no doubt. Just last week a couple of ladies scorched the full route in under 4 days (I just added them to the completions list)!

AletheaJuly 1st, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Very good post. I definitely appreciate this website.
Keeep it up!

AlexJune 4th, 2017 at 9:26 am

Hey, thanks for setting up a page with all this info! I just wanted to mention that the external links at the bottom of the page are all broken/outdated in case you were unaware.

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