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High Rollas

High Rollas is a lariat loop trail in the McCoy Flat mountain bike trail system just west of Vernal. The ride is rated expert because of a couple of spooky plunges and a somewhat rough trail surface in the climb and descent. The riding season is April through November, with a trailhead elevation of 5300 feet.

View to the north as badlands fall away from the mesa. Photos and ride review by Bruce on June 23, 2016.

High Rollas itself is 5.4 miles long. But the entry to the trail lies on the Got Milk and Retail Sale loops a mile west of the trailhead. So the minimum ride that hits High Rollas is 8.2 miles with 800 vertical feet of climbing.

Looking east in the McCoy Flat trailhead with Little Rocky waiting on the bike rack. The ride starts at the opposite side of the large fenced parking lot.

The McCoy Flat trail system is well-maintained and well-marked. The trailhead has plenty of parking, a bathroom, and a large shaded picnic area. Bring your own water. There are trail maps at the trailhead (but not at trail intersections). A nice addition is engraved rock "trail signs" at trail forks.

Trail fork where Slippery When Wet (one way) joins, looking north. Note the unobtrusive engraved-rock trail sign.

Temperatures here are more extreme than in Vernal. On the day of my ride, I finished at 102 degrees at 1:30 pm -- while it was a balmy 93 degrees downtown.

Climbing to the Fire Sale trail fork westbound. Almost there.

The ride starts via the west exit from parking (on the opposite end from the bathroom). Keep left as Combo forks north on your right.

Cross the paved McCoy Flat road, then veer right. Retail Sale and Slippery When Wet will be joining to your left. You're on the combined Got Milk and Retail Sale trails westbound.

Climbing up the ridge as High Rollas leaves Got Milk northbound. Note the cobbled appearance caused by small round rocks. The trail is on the right.

Meander across the rolling sage steppe for a mile, then keep to the right when Fire Sale forks away on a low hill. Descend into the next valley.

There are two outcrops of conglomerate. Here my bike is posed at the crest of the stone, ready to plunge down the other side.

At mile 1.4 as the trail briefly joins an old doubletrack, you'll reach the High Rollas trail fork. (Here a left turn takes you on Retail Sale and straight ahead takes you on Got Milk toward More Hoes.) Turn 90 degrees to the right and immediately begin climbing a stiff slope to the north.

View down a plunge. Spooky although not tricky -- but a bugger to climb up on the way back.

The trail surface is river deposits from the Tertiary period, formed by outflow from the Uintah Mountains around 20 million years ago. And river rocks can be a tricky trail surface. The climb will be a bit bumpy, and the occasional lose rock will create spin-outs and hang-ups.

View south down the long valley after reaching the top of the mesa, looking at the trail we took to get here.

The trail climbs up a long valley to the north for just over a mile. There are a couple of rock outcrops that make a very challenging climb in one direction and a spooky plunge in the other.

South view. Got Milk crosses the bottom of the photo.

When you reach the top of the mesa you'll enter the loop portion of the lariat. The recommended riding direction is counter-clockwise, turning to your right at the T intersection with the loop.

Here the trail is occasionally indistinct. Not because nobody rides it. The embedded rocks keep bike tires from scrubbing away plants and compacting the soil. So you may occasionally find yourself one little sagebrush-width off trail.

Northbound on the east side of the mesa.

The trail circles the edge of the mesa, visiting sharp fin viewpoints at the corners. The terrain here is low sage, wildflowers such as primrose, and Brigham Tea. There are constant views, with the mesa dropping sharply to your right.

Heading out to a fin viewpoint at the far north end. On the right skyline are the breaks where US 40 drops to Vernal.

The McCoy Flat trails can be seen in the valleys below you. You can look over the nearby mesas to see the Uintah Mountains in the northwest and the edge of the breaks where the highway drops to Vernal in the northeast.

View to the west. Got Milk lies near the washbottom between the mesa and the dirt road.

After visiting every corner of the mesa, you're back at the trail fork. Here's where you get an appreciation for why this trail is rated expert. Although the downhill isn't very steep, the round boulders and often-loose trail surface make bike-control hard for beginners and intermediates. Sink your seatpost and rocket a mile back to the Got Milk loop trail.

Southbound on the western side of the mesa.

There's a tiny side trail near the bottom called Got Pimps. It rejoins after 1/10 mile and is worth visiting. When you reach Got Milk, continue your ride or head back to the trailhead.

Bottom Line:
An OK ride with nice views, but mostly a blah trail surface. If you're picking only one trail in the area, Slippery When Wet or More Hoes will be more interesting.

Little Rocky hugs the shade as the trail pivots along the rock edge on More Pimps.

Riding directions, 8-mile out-and-back:
0.0    Trail west side of parking
         N40 21.015 W109 34.847
         Immediate left fork, cross road
         Immediate veer right on Got Milk
         N40 20.970 W109 34.926
0.1    Cross doubletrack
1.2    Straight (L = Fire Sale)
         N40 20.830 W109 35.982
1.4    R and uphill on High Rollas
         N40 20.716 W109 36.093
1.5    Keep L N40 20.850 W109 36.147
2.3    R to enter loop
         N40 21.335 W109 35.997
2.7    Southeast corner
3.6    Fin at north corner
4.7    Southwest corner
5.4    Minor middle south corner
5.7    Finish loop, R downhill
6.4    L on More Pimps
         N40 20.894 W109 36.138
6.6    L and rejoin High Rollas
6.7    L on Got Milk
8.2    Back at parking
Getting there:  
While driving toward Vernal on US-40, pass mile marker 138, then turn right on the narrow paved McCoy Flats road ( N40 23.427 W109 35.752). If you miss McCoy Flats road, go to the viewpoint overlooking Vernal and backtrack exactly 2 miles, then turn left into the road. Drive 3 miles. Immediately after passing a corral on your left, turn into the large fenced BLM trailhead parking lot.

Camping: BLM land, primitive camping allowed. No developed sites.
At trailhead
Bring your own.
Bike services, maps, trail conditions:

Altitude Cycle, 580 East Main, Vernal. 435-781-2595

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
     GPX High Rollas lariat ride     McCoy Flats area trails
McCoy area topo map for printing:  View map
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to Vernal area resources

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