Blue Diamond: A Singletrack Gem

There’s more to Red Rocks than climbing. Come along as we go off on a little diversion from the main purpose of our trip to Vegas.

Blue Diamond is a little town, about 12 km down the Red Rocks Scenic Highway from the entrance to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. This small town has made a name for itself with its awesome singletrack trails system of 33 trails.

You are not allowed to ride the trails within Red Rock Canyon itself, so the Blue Diamond/Cottonwood Valley option is an excellent way to get around this: you still have the incredible Wilson Cliffs of Wilson Mountain, one of the iconic mountains within the park, as a backdrop for your rides. Essentially, you’re biking in the desert area on the south side of Red Rocks, so it sure feels as if you are still in the park.

IMG_2137.jpgThe Landmine Loop is the trail we did. We were looking for a shorter ride that would give us a taste of fun desert riding (and get our seats used to riding once again after our long winter, to prepare us for our upcoming Moab biking… riders out there, you’ll know what THAT means!).

Landmine Loop takes you out on a 12.3 km trail through a rolling desert of cacti, flood zone washes and really healthy Joshua trees poking up out of the rocky sandstone soil. There are views of Red Rocks’ spectacular mountains most of the time and plenty of extension trails that loop back onto this trail that you can add to your ride to increase your distance and give you more quality time in the saddle.

The ups weren’t too hard. The times you crossed dry stream beds and washes were punchy. You’d swoop in steeply, with enough momentum to get you right up the other side without having to pedal, in a stomach flipping carnival ride kind of way. I always feel a little thrill when that happens!

Where the trail went through wide open desert, it had amazing swoopy flow, trending just enough downward to help you cruise over rocks and boulders. None of the ups were killer, long, sustained energy zappers.

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The trail starts out, simply enough, heading up a slow incline behind the town.
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It was a seriously neat landscape to explore on two wheels!
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Part of the trail that you ride on is the Old Spanish Trail, a historic trail that linked towns like Santa Fe, New Mexico with Los Angeles, California. Used by trappers, explorers, missionaries, traders and Ute Indians, it is really a network of trails that extend throughout the desert of the American Southwest.
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At times, the trail is beautiful, rolling single track on hard packed dirt. You can pedal to your heart’s content and build up great speed as you head toward the mountains in the distance.
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There were great rocky sections to ride (this is a very tame one).
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There were lots of Joshua trees to bike past. Imagine what this must be like to zoom through when they are in bloom! The trees here seemed quite healthy, compared to ones we saw within the Red Rocks scenic drive loop.
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You can extend your ride time and distance by taking any number of trails that branch off the Landmine Loop. Cactus Slalom anyone? What a name!
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Or how about Lil’ Daytona? (Motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on these trails… but you can feel like one!)
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At one point we came across an old abandoned car… a little piece of modern history.
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While the trails were sometimes relatively flat and smooth….
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… they were often quite rocky. I didn’t stop to take photos of the fast, bouldery sections that were a thrill to ride.

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If you go…

  • There are no fees to use this trail system.
  • Park in McGhie’s Bike Outpost parking lot across from the baseball diamond and toddler playground. There are public bathrooms beside the playground.

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    McGhie’s Bike Outpost
  • Start the Landmine Loop Trail from the south east side of the bike shop (behind the shop, and to the left in this photo). Going in this direction makes it easier to do the swoopy boulder field that is part of the return leg as you do it going downhill, rather than up, in this direction. Ask at the bike shop… they will give you the name of the streets to take through town to get you to the start. It’s a very small town, so it’s not hard.
  • The town of Blue Diamond has a restaurant, a bike shop (that does rentals), public washrooms (beside the playground) and a gas stop convenience store beside the bike shop that stocks juices, smoothies, nuts, fresh fruit and sandwiches, along with chips, tamales and hotdogs if you’re so inclined. This comes in handy if you’ve forgotten your packed lunch (not that we did something like that… oh, no… not us! ha).

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    Chips & juice… not our usual lunch!
  • Remember to download your Nevada map on Trail Forks or MTB Project before you go as there is no cell service out there. The bike shop let us use their wifi to do the download, but the restaurant knocked out the power in the middle of it, so we were then out of luck. Apparently the power goes out there frequently, so don’t count on this option.
  • The signage on the trail system is so good that you can’t get lost, which is reassuring when you’re riding in the desert. The guys in the bike shop can give you a sense of the best trails for you to do there, based on your ability and how long a ride you’d like to do. They are quite knowledgeable, helpful and friendly.
  • The trails are well used, so it’s likely that someone will come along within an hour, but be prepared, and bring something like an InReach device with you, in case something happens and you need medical assistance. Your cell phone will not work out there as anything but a map and a camera.
  • Take lots of water and something salty as you are in the sun with no shade all of the time. And don’t forget the sunscreen and sunglasses. You’ll need ‘em, guaranteed!
  • This bears repeating: be sure to take a sun screened lip balm. All of us had sunburned lips after the first day of climbing at Red Rocks, despite applying (in my case) a regular Blistex lip balm that usually works like a charm. You will need one with sunscreen in it or your lips will blister, peel and crack.

 

9 Comments on “Blue Diamond: A Singletrack Gem

  1. Wow, this looks like a fun and challenging place to ride, Sheri! It’s amazing they have so many trails here. The one rocky part looks almost impossible, but I assume you made it! You must be in great shape to do this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Think about how fit that hilly riding makes you…. and how you could turn that into a fast, spirited, ride on the flats! Those hills, and the training they give you, makes for lots of of fun with little effort… and you can unleash that inner speed demon! 😉 Thanks for stopping by & catching up, Kristen!

      Like

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