Utah 2005 Day 5 – Vernal – McCoy Flats

After such a fun ride yesterday with Shaun and Melissa our gracious hosts we were only too pleased to steal them away from the IMBA ride today planned at McCoy Flats. This area is just west of town and is also described in Rich Etchbergers’ guide book – “NorthEastern Utah Mountain Bike Rides”.

As with yesterday, Vernal trails are best ridden following a local and not staring at a guidebook. I’ve got the pleasure of tailing Shaun up a few climbs unless he lets me get ahead for a picture. Shortly after starting off on Retail Sale we cut off onto More Hoes – which then starts the climb to More Head Mesa – to the west of the Retail Sale trailhead, The climbs are short but savage puke fests. Need I say anything about the views? In short order, we gain the ridge of Morehead Mesa winding along sage,.cactus and spectacularly cut desert singletrack and views down to SR 40 looking so close it looks like you could jump road-gaps over it. If you want to ride a skinny! This is it! Approaching the ridge crux of Morehead Mesa. Be careful here if its windy – which it frequently is!

This unfortunate relic is the remainder of the last rider to cut a switchback. They treat trail-braiders like cattle-rustlers in these here parts. Poor us! We have to lose all this vertical. Shaun points out our sinous path back down to Retail Sale. Shaun gets to go first.

Melissa chases. This looks south down the plateau of McCoy Flats. Hell of a place to lose a cow. Melissa chasing Shaun again Sharon picking her way down a sandy fast section Back at Victoria Secrets – the junction of More Hoes with Retail Sale, here are our fine local guides pointing the way to Morehead Mesa from whence we came.

Retail Sale is the “popular” “crowded” local trail. Other than us and the IMBA crew there were no other riders there today. Truly Vernal is an undiscovered gem. I wonder how locals will feel if it becomes as crowded and trails become the gong-show of my beloved North Shore? Be careful what you wish for guys, for you might get it.

The trail is best ridden counter clockwise from the trailhead but can be ridden both ways. If ridden the other way these fun small jumps become technical rock ledges. Many shrines exist on the cow-paths and grazing areas intersecting the trail – undoubtedly an ancient artifact of civilizations now long gone. Like the Red Fleet area trails – there are not sustained long climbs. Instead the climbs are steep and anaroebic. Our final tally for the day is a short one – we cover only 22.7km and ascend 341m. I try but can’t persuade Sharon to stick around to finish the roughly one hour loop of Jackalope. We spend the rest of the day admiring petroglyphs at the McConkie Ranch near Dry Fork Canyon Road. Its truly a wonderful sight – the Three Kings being the most stunning. The most petroglyphs one will see within a short walking distance and hike.

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