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Gunnison Reservoir Trails
Manti Race Loop, Milk & Cookies, Prolific Loop

Just outside of Manti, there's nine miles of singletrack trail near Gunnison Reservoir. The riding area is officially called "Manti West." The 5.7-mile Manti Race Loop will be of most interest here. There's a second 1.2-mile loop called Prolific, connected to the main loop area by a one-mile traversing trail called Milk and Cookies.

Descending a swooping turn on the far southern side of the race loop, looking east. The white color of the turns below is due to reinforcing gravel placed to armor and weather-proof the trail. Photos and ride review by Bruce on November 19, 2021.

The trails are reached via 500 North Street in Manti, where an all-weather gravel road takes you to a day-use area on the west side of Gunnison Reservoir. (See below for directions.) The base elevation is 5400 feet. The expected riding season will be late April through early December. All trails would rank easier-intermediate in technical and aerobic difficulty, with the Prolific Loop being just a bit harder for both climbing effort and for skill requirement.

The Milk and Cookies trail is more primitive than the race loop, traversing the hillside between the Warm-up Loop and the Prolific Loop. Much of the Gunnison Reservoir area terrain is open grassland as you see here.

Manti Race Loop
The Manti Race Loop trail is bi-directional, but it's designed to be best when done counterclockwise. Overall, there will be around 800 vertical feet of climbing over the course of the loop.

Officially, you start the ride on the main gravel road at the far end of the day use area. Find the spot where the finish-line doubletrack joins the main road at the base of a hill. You'll ride south and uphill on the "shake-out sprint" of the main road. Climb 0.4 miles and 100 vertical feet up the road (keeping to the right when a smaller gravel road forks away on your left). Here the singletrack entry is marked by a carsonite post on the left side of the road.

Entering the singletrack of the Manti Race Loop.

From here, the singletrack trail will turn and descend eastbound down a ravine. It crosses the smaller doubletrack then circles a small hill. It now heads north above the shore of Gunnison Reservoir.

The trail is well-engineered with swooping banked turns and a generously-wide riding surface.

Descending a ravine as we begin the singletrack while riding the loop counterclockwise. This spot is the only place you'll find significant numbers of trees. The rest of the trail is fully sun-exposed.

At mile 1.3 of the counterclockwise loop, the trail joins doubletrack. Keep left. After about 100 yards, the doubletrack splits. Keep to the left at this fork (unmarked as of November 2021). The singletrack splits off to your right after 150 yards.

Dirt-road crossings usually are well-marked with carsonite posts on both sides. But there are two spots where the trail joins doubletrack with non-marked road forks. If it's not obvious from recent tire tracks, you'll need to think about where the next stretch of singletrack must be, and navigate the road forks by faith.

Cruising northbound along the hill west of the reservoir. The riding surface is wide and well-engineered.

The northbound trail will join doubletrack again around mile 1.6 of the loop. Stay northbound. Look ahead and spot the Gunnison Reservoir Day Use Area sign across the low valley. That's your target. As of 2021, there will be no trail signs on the doubletracks to guide you through.

As the trail enters a complex set of branching gravel roads, keep to the right. Turn right (east) as you hit the main day-use area gravel road at mile 1.8. Then fork left uphill after 1/10th mile and climb 50 yards to find the continuing singletrack on your right.

Continuing north. The tan area at mid-right is the bottom of the reservoir, completely drained of water.

The trail will circle another low hill, then head west away from the water. At around mile 2.7, you'll see the loop's return path in the valley ahead to the west, but the race route will turn northbound. Now you'll climb the western slope of a hill through a series of turns.

A bit of marsh persists at the northern end of the reservoir in November.

The trail crosses over the northernmost hill at mile 4.0 and begins a descent. To the northeast, you can see Manti, easily identified by the big white temple.

The trail curves around to head south and joins a narrow doubletrack that runs parallel to the main road at mile 4.5.

View northwest from the final hill of the loop. The white spot near the center is the Manti temple.

Here you'll encounter a fun set of engineered bumps as you streak back southbound. Some bumps are simple rollers while others are tabletops of varying length. Pick the ones you want to launch off and have fun.

At mile 4.8 the doubletrack itself joins the main road, but the race loop veers off to the left on singletrack.

A series of rollers and/or table jumps to break up the boring doubletrack return path of the loop.

As the trail approaches the small valley where the Day Use Area is located, it will descend through a series of fun tight turns. These are highly banked for speed. The trail crosses the main Day Use Area gravel road at mile 5.3, then dumps onto a second road after another tenth of a mile.

Keep right and climb the gravel road back to the main road where you started the loop. 

Heading down into the Day Use Area with some fun turns ahead.

Warm-up Loop
The warm-up loop lies on the hillside to the west of the main road, around mid-way between the two road forks at the day-use area. It's designed to ride counterclockwise. The loop is 0.6 miles long and is reached via two short connecting trails. 

The northernmost of the two connecting trails is the official entry to the loop, climbing 100 yards to join the loop northbound. (The second trail about 100 yards south is the exit from the warm-up loop.)

On the warm-up loop, looking south.

At the north end of the loop, the Milk and Cookies trail forks to the right. Keep left and circle around to head back southbound. After the trail turns back to the north again, you'll hit a trail fork. Keep left and uphill to ride another lap -- or to head north on Milk and Cookies. Fork downhill to the right to exit the warm-up area and return to the main road.

Looking north on the lower limb of the loop. The Milk and Cookies fork is straight ahead.

Milk and Cookies
Milk and Cookies is 0.9 miles long, joining the northern end of the Warm-up Loop to the lower downhill side of the Prolific Loop. (See the map.) It traverses a grass-covered hillside. The trail is narrow but easy to ride,with only trivial elevation change. 
At the northern end of Milk and Cookies, it curves around in a shallow valley to join the downhill side of the Prolific Loop. Keep right and descend a few swooping turns to a small doubletrack that joins the main road. The uphill limb of Prolific is to your left, just uphill on that small doubletrack. Or you can turn right onto the main road for a quick return to the staging area.

Approaching the Prolific Loop on the Milk and Cookies trail, northbound. The rocks above the turn at mid-right spell MTB.

Prolific Loop
The Prolific Loop is 1.2 miles long with around 150 vertical feet of elevation change. The loop is done counterclockwise. The uphill limb of the loop is found on a small doubletrack just off the main gravel road (see the "Getting There" instruction below). As the doubletrack heads uphill, turn to the right onto the singletrack, marked by a carsonite post.

If you arrived at the loop via Milk and Cookies, you'll first descend 1/4 mile on the downhill side of the loop, then turn left uphill on the doubletrack to begin the climb.

Entering the Prolific Loop from the doubletrack, heading north.

The climb is fairly easy and uncomplicated. You'll cross the doubletrack on the way up. The trail will join the doubletrack at mile 0.5 from the bottom. 

Climbing toward the juniper forest. The shoulder at upper left is where the downhill begins.

Go 200 yards uphill on the doubletrack, then turn to the left on the singletrack. It's marked by a pile of rocks. You're now at mile 0.6 of the loop and it's time to head downhill.

Looking from the doubletrack as we get ready to start the downhill.

View to the east from the top of the loop.

Beginning the descent, hugging a juniper slope.
After clinging to the slope in juniper forest through two traverses, the trail hits a fire scar. Here the trail begins to swoop back and forth across the small valley, entering open grassland for the last quarter mile. The connector from Milk and Cookies will join you here.

But you want to do another lap, so keep straight and head for the bottom!

Rolling downhill through wide swooping turns.

Getting there:
From US-89 in Manti, turn west just south of the temple to get onto 500 North westbound. Drive west on 500 North, and after 1.7 miles it will become gravel River Road and turn to head northwest. At mile 2.8 from US-89, fork to the left to head south. At the fork at mile 3.3, turn R to head west. The road will then turn to the south again at mile 3.9. At mile 6.6 you may note the bottom of the Prolific Loop on your right as the road turns a bit to climb a small rise. The road then continues south. At mile 7.4, keep straight as a road forks to the left (heading for the Day Use Area). You'll spot trails on both sides of the road here, but keep going. At mile 7.7 as the road approaches a climb, there's a spot to park on your left, just as another dirt road joins on the left. (The smaller road on the left is the finish-line sprint for the race, and the main road is the shake-out sprint to start the race loop.)

Note that, as of 2021, there are NO road signs to guide you to the riding area from Manti. And no "you have arrived" or "park here" signs. You'll need to follow the instructions above!

Hash-marked areas on the map are doubletrack or gravel road.

Camping: no
Water: none
Bathroom: none

Riding resources for this trail:
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as..."):
     GPX multi-track file
Map above for printing:  View map in new window
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to south Utah County resources

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