FATMAP difficulty grade
When you first arrive at the trailhead for Horsethief Mesa, you may rightly question if you're in the right place.
The trail begins behind a gate that leads to a trash transfer station—look for it on the right, just a few feet down the road, off the highway.
But as you dive into the trail, the pervasive tire tracks and the bike-specific swoop and flow will tell you that you're indeed in the right place! This intermediate-friendly ride provides about 10 miles of flowy, non-technical singletrack with fantastic views of the Rio Grande Gorge.
After a few miles of pedaling away from the highway, you'll reach the rim of the gorge and spend about half the ride swooping away from the rim, and then back to it, over and over again. This swoopy trail has the feeling of an old renegade trail that originally had some well-designed bits, and some that weren't so well designed.
An astute observer will note the places where old fall line sections were rerouted onto longer sets of switchbacks.
Even still, some of those old school fall lines remain, demanding a few steep sections of climbing. If it wasn't for those few steep climbs, this fantastic lollipop loop would make for a great beginner ride, with both delightful flow and fantastic views.
If you're bringing along a beginner who does have some solid fitness and stamina, consider Horsethief Mesa as one of their early get-your-feet-wet rides!