The Racetrack Trail is an easy desert loop
located just east of Lapoint (12 miles northwest of Vernal). There's a
short 4.5-mile version, and a longer 6.8 mile ride. Overall elevation
change is only 400 feet, from 5600 to 6000. There's a bit of mild
up-and-down. Racetrack shares a trailhead with Corkscrew,
a slightly more technical 9-mile loop.
View north as we begin the ride. Sego
lilies are everywhere, with orange globe mallow at lower right. Photos June 3,
2010 by Bruce.
|The trail is suitable for beginners, as long as they know
how to get off the saddle for the multiple wash-dips. The wash dips bring
the trail to an easier-intermediate rating.
View north as we head toward the hills
(the trail remains in the valley).
||Beginners will want to take the cutoff fork on the left
after 2-1/4 miles. The trail gets a little more technical on the longer
loop, but still nothing tricky. Well, the wash dips get a little meaner
and there's more up-and-down riding.
Daisies bloom along the trail in the
|At the apex of the big loop, 3.2 miles into the ride, fork
right and head west. You'll wander up and down, back and forth, heading
generally west for 1/2 mile, then turn to the south to begin your return
to home base.
More desert singletrack at the north
end of the loop.
||About the other trail:
There's a trail continuing straight (right) at mile 3.2 of the loop.
Very soon, it begins to climb straight up the mesa. It will gain 400 feet
in about 2/3 mile. Some of it goes OK in granny gear; other parts are too
steep and too loose.
This is the trail that forks right at
the apex of the big loop. It's not part of the usual racetrack ride.
|At the top of the mesa, the trail simply peters out. I don't
know if this is a future DH route for a trail to be built, or whatever.
Ride up if you want. IMHO, it's a lot of work for a too-quick plunge back
to where you started.
View from just under the edge of the
mesa. The trail drops steeply. Only expert descenders will enjoy this.
||Back to the real ride...
About 1/2 mile west of the fork, the trail turns on a ridgeline and
begins its descent southward. This ridgeline ride is your reward for doing
the bigger loop.
Typical trail as we head west near the
apex of the big loop.
|For a mile, the trail twists along the ridgeline at
blistering speed. Fun stuff.
Shortly after dropping back into the sage flats, the short-loop cutoff
trail joins on the left. The slope becomes nil, and you need to earn your
speed by cranking. But it's still a fast paced flight back to the
Handlebar view on the ridgeline heading south on the
||Riding notes, counterclockwise loop ride:
0.0 ST heading north from parking area
N40 24.782 W109 43.694
0.1 Fork R N40 24.831 W109 43.669
2.3 Keep R for longer ride (L = return)
N40 26.470 W109 43.174
3.2 Left for loop N40 27.038 W109 42.823
(R = stiff 0.8 mile climb to mesa
3.7 Trail turns south to begin return
4.9 Join shortcut (in on left) N40 26.336 W109 43.383
6.8 Pass outgoing trail
Back at parking
The sage flats, with a lupine
(leftmost) and mallow among the many wildflowers.
From within Vernal: From the middle of Vernal, go north on Highway 44 to 1500 North (Highway
121 to Lapoint) and turn left. Zero your odometer here. Drive 12.2 miles
west on 121. About a half mile past mile marker 129, watch for a dirt road
on your right. Just through the fence, there's a broad parking area on
From westbound on US-40: From where US-40 makes a 90-degree right turn in
Roosevelt, drive 7.9 miles east. Turn right on Highway 246 to Lapoint
(just before the town of Gusher). Drive 7.3 miles north and turn right at
the T intersection toward Lapoint on Highway 121. Drive 5.7 miles east.
(After dropping down into a canyon and turning rightward, ignore the first
dirt road on the left. The dirt road you want will be about 1/3 mile past
mile marker 28.) Turn left, go through the fence, then turn right into a
broad primitive parking area.
To begin the ride, find a narrow singletrack in the northeast corner of
the parking area.
|Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
Large-format area topo map (220K): View
Lodging, camping, shops: Links to Vernal area resources
Camping: Allowed, primitive
Bike services, maps, trail conditions:
Altitude Cycle, 580 East Main, Vernal. 435-781-2595
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