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 June sunshine.
|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 trailhead.
Handlebar view on the ridgeline heading south on the big loop.
|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 top)
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 your right.
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 map
Lodging, camping, shops: Links to Vernal area resources
Camping: Allowed, primitive
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