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FATMAP difficulty grade
The Barrel Roll Trail is the flowiest trail in the Santa Clara Preserve Trail System, and as such, it's also one of the most popular! This intermediate-friendly loop begins directly from the Cove Wash trailhead and starts climbing on a moderate grade.
One of the beauties of this route is that all of the trail grades are quite moderate and rideable, whereas most of the other loops in this network include at least one or two grunts up an almost impossibly-steep hillside to reach the next stretch of trail.
Barrel Roll, on the other hand, is entirely rideable! After pedaling up a mellow grade, the trail begins to roll gently down and around the backside of the mesa before climbing again toward the high point of the ride.
All throughout this ride, you'll enjoy spectacular views of the mountains to the north as well as the nearby mesas, but at the high point, you'll enjoy a particularly spectacular view of rocky cliffs and narrow canyons to the southwest. Now, it's time to (mostly) descend! The initial drop in to the descent incorporates some fairly large embedded rocks that ride the line between rock slabs and rock gardens.
While most of these boulders are easy to negotiate, this chunky section earns this loop its "Difficult" FATMAP rating.
Otherwise, it would probably peg closer to a "Moderate" difficulty rating. After an entertaining rocky descent, the grade mellows out a bit into a rolling, meandering downhill on mostly-smooth singletrack with a few rocks interspersed.
Before you know it, you'll be back at the trailhead, itching for more! If you want to add additional mileage to the end of your ride, do note that all of the other trails in the area are a bit more difficult than Barrel Roll.
The Rim Trails are the next most difficult, followed by Suicidal Tendencies, which is a much more technical challenge.