What’s the easiest way to increase your town’s tourism dollar? Simply focus on a population that enjoys traveling and entice them to visit. Sounds easy enough? The city of Gallup has now joined other areas (Fruita, CO; Durango, CO; Moab, UT) who have reigned in on the economic impact of trail enthusiasts. Previously unknown as an outdoor recreation center, Gallup is changing people’s notions with a newly created trail systems attracting hikers, racers and recreational athletes from around the Southwest. By chance, I happened to be one of the lucky riders that succumbed to Gallup’s online marketing tactics and took a ride on the High Desert Trail system.
Our initial trip plan was not to ride much. Instead, we were focused on sport climbing in Winslow, AZ (Jack’s Canyon). However, after leaving late on Thursday night, we decided to pitch our tents near the Quaking Aspen National Forest campground near Gallup. That morning we discovered that Gallup offered more than just a night of camping. After visiting a local coffee shop and perusing a copy of the Independent, Gallup’s local free press, we were surprised to learn about the High Desert Trail system.
Situated west of downtown Gallup is a marvelously planned and well-built trail system. Constructed by Gallup Trails 2010, the High Desert Trail system has all the makings of a world-class desert riding adventure. Having the urge to burn off the caffeine dose, we drove to the trail head, put on our wind jackets and road all of the 20 available miles of riding.
The trail is good. Mostly consisting of undulation hills, arroyos and technical slick rock sections, it provides any rider a good burn through the sage. Of course, it all depends on how fast you go. We took it easy. The wind was very gusty and the daytime high was projected to hover around 35-degrees. The slower pace afforded us spectacular views of the surrounding areas. To the East was Red Rock State Park and to the West were countless desert mesas. The North and South views were simple singletrack.
We started at the Gamerco trail head, which is the North Side and road clockwise. We completed the first, second and third Mesa Loops. Riding North to South puts you in to the prevailing Southerly wind at the start, but makes life easier on your way back. The trail was well marked and full of maps, at every intersection. Furthermore, dramatic rock cairns blot the trail throughout its entirety. The total distance was 20-plus miles. There were no frustrating hills to conquer, nor vastly technical sections to re-work, just pure desert riding.
Overall, I give the trail two thumbs up! Way to go Gallup…