Klondike Bluffs … Dinosaur and MTB Tracks
I had been to Klondike Bluffs a few years earlier but wanted to return and try the new trails that had been built.
As we left KOA cabin I couldn’t help but stop and take a photo of the snow clad LaSal Mountains looming above the campground.
I had Cindy and Kayley drop me off at the southern trailhead of the Klondike Bluffs because I wanted to make sure I got to see the dinosaur tracks (which lay on the southernmost end of the area). The girls were headed to Arches National Park, intending to hike to Delicate Arch.
I had seen the dinosaur tracks on my previous visit (4 years prior) but had failed to get any decent photos. When it comes to dinosaurs I am just like any other 8 year old boy (on the first day of our earlier trip to Dinosaur National Monument Cindy had to stop me from taking a shovel and digging along the side of the road, trying to find my own dinosaur bones).
South Klondike Trailhead
There were at least a dozen cars parked at the South Klondike Trailhead when we arrived, probably due to it being Spring Break for many school districts. The sun was shining bright, the sky crystal clear, and the temperature a perfect 70 degrees. In addition to visiting the prehistoric tracks, my goal for the day was to ride some portion of every trail in the area … and that was going to take quite a bit of planning … and riding.
INTERACTIVE MAP FOR KLONDIKE BLUFFS
- Click the blue “P” for driving directions to the Klondike Bluffs Trailhead.
- Click Tracks or Icons for More Specific Information.
Before I was more than a half mile into Klondike Wash I met another rider coming the opposite direction. I took his photo as he neared, as I often do. He stopped and asked if I could take one on his camera. I told him I would if he would allow me to put a photo of him on the website. He said his name was Brian (from Montana) and he would surely agree to that.
After leaving Brian I made the right turn onto Klondike Bluffs 4×4 Road, which I knew would lead me out of the sandy Klondike Wash, and more importantly to see those large tracks … dino tracks. Just after the turn I rode past several jeeps parked on each side of the dirt road … with tents and lots of other camping equipment about. I didn’t remember anyone staying there the last time I’d visited, but I suddenly remembered it was “Jeep Jamboree Week.”
After riding over some real tough drops for Jeeps (not for me) I rounded the corner and rode onto a huge slab of sandstone … probably as large as a football field. Sure enough, just as I remembered, the three-toed tracks were 20 yards ahead.
They were easy to spot as someone had placed small rocks around each one. As I was taking off my shoe (to use as a reference scale) my mind went crazy trying to imagine what creature stood in the exact same spot as me … several million years ago. What was it doing? What was it thinking? Was he there in the morning, as I was? Was he happy, tired, hungry, full grown, stinky, soft skinned, feathery, or looking for a mate? A few dozen photos later and I was ready to move on. I left the tracks and headed up the 4×4 track to catch the first singletrack trails of the day … Baby Tracks South.
Baby Tracks South is actually two little horseshoe shaped sections that weave through all kinds of rock formations. Riding up the 4×4 road I passed the first Baby Tracks segment but decided to move on to ride the second Baby Tracks South trail.
At top of the hill I came upon a crowd of at least 8 riders … both men and women. They were all crowded around the Baby Tracks sign and didn’t even acknowledge me as I stopped on the periphery of their group. One of the guys was standing next to the sign and talking about taking a transmission out of his truck. After a minute of listening (and no one making any motions toward getting on a bike) I decided I was going to ride the Baby Steps section, and let their faster riders pass me if needed.
Maneuvering through Baby Steps south required a few bike skills (nothing overwhelming) but was a lot of fun. I snapped a few photos so it probably took me 10 minutes to complete the ride.
As I rode back up to the hill to end Baby Steps I spotted a crowd of at least 8 riders gathered around the sign. As I pulled up to the edge of the group I realized they were the same people I had left only minutes ago. A guy (the same guy) was standing next to the sign talking about his truck, and (once again) no one even noticed me as I parked at the edge of the group.
Then I had one of the weirdest feelings ever. Everything was exactly the same as when I’d left the group minutes before. All the riders were in the same position they had been in before. The leader was standing next to the sign as before, with all the others facing him. The trail junction also looked exactly the same to me.
Am I Going Crazy?
Hmmmm … had the map been incorrect, and the loop was actually been the lollipop type, and I had just come back out of the same trail I’d gone down to start the loop? Maybe I had looped back into the original trail and not noticed? How could I have rejoined the trail and not noticed it on the way out or upon returning? Was I losing my mind?
I made a left and continued up the 4×4 road wondering what was more likely:
- The group of riders had moved up the 4×4 road to the outlet of Baby Steps (and were still gathered around the same guy telling the same story) in exactly the same time it had taken me to do the horseshoe … or
- The map had been incorrect, and I had ridden in a complete circle without even noticing.
(As the day wore on I became more and more convinced Option #1 must have been correct, for I found the map to be excellent … all trails were where they were supposed to be, all marked well.)
In order, this was the way I hit the trails in the area. Just a short stint up the 4×4 road brought me to a trail junction. There I turned left and rode west on Little Salty, then north on EKG, northeast on Baby Steps North, northwest on Mega Steps, looped around on Alaska, took Homer west, southeast on Dino-Flow, looped up and around Nome, and west on Mega Steps to the parking lot.
Below you will see a couple of my photos of the region.
Meeting Chip, Pierce, and Campbell
While riding down Little Salty I ended up behind the second of two little boys following their dad. Little Salty is rated as an intermediate trail and Pierce (7 years) and Campbell (5 years) were riding everything. They eventually pulled over and let me pass but I did get to meet them at the bottom, at the junction with the EKG trail. These guys were so fired up! From looking at these kids faces I could tell mountain biking was looking at a bright future.
Meeting another Brian – At one point I found myself riding behind a fellow I had met only one day earlier, at the head of the Hymasa Trail. That day (Brian, from Durango) had been wearing a tutu. This time I followed him and his good looking wife or girlfriend or friend as they shot down the Homer Trail.
A pinch flat on the Nome Trail. I had bought two extra tubes (but had given one away to a rider the day before) so I was going to be okay. I quickly changed out tube but found my pump no longer worked. I tried and tried to build up pressure but the tire remained way too soft. I gave up and ate a protein bar hoping someone would come by to help me out. I got a little worried when I saw no one and the sun was getting lower in the sky. So I decided to walk my bike down to the Dino Flow Trail, figuring it would have more traffic. After a couple hundred yards I was excited to see a rider coming up my trail, heading my way.
“Hey, you don’t happen to have a pump I could borrow,” I asked desperately. Nick said he did, and I quickly filled my tire. I told him he was my hero and how I was not looking forward to walking back to the southern trailhead. Nick said he and his girlfriend had also started at the southern trailhead (she was riding on a different trail at that time). I took his photo and go going … time was running out.
Agate Loop Trailhead
After riding all the trails on the eastern part of the area (and with a new tube completely inflated) I headed west to the Agate Loop Trailhead. These were the newest trails in the Klondike area. I rode around the Agate Loop and was surprised to find whole fields full of agates right alongside the trail.
I next rode the western half of the Jasper Loop, then got a text from Cindy that they were in the parking lot waiting for me.
Where is My Shovel?
The Jurassic Trail passed right through land that closely resembled the soil I had wanted to dig while in Dinosaur National Monument. The layers of the soil in this area were mud, in a rainbow of colors ranging from grey to pink to red.
While looking for dinosaur remains in the hills (while riding along) my phone rang. I instantly slid to a stop, pulled my new Galaxy S5 off my belt, and answered. I guess I was worried Cindy and Kayley were going to leave me … but it was my young video editor (A.J.). He called to tell me he had completed a new video but was having trouble loading getting it to load on YouTube. I assured him we would eventually get it worked out and that I needed to get moving. He kept on going, telling me about how great his new editing program was and how frustrated he was that it wouldn’t load.
During my 10 minute talk with A.J., Nick (the same one who loaned me the pump) and his girlfriend rode by. Nick yelled “Hello Joe,” as they passed and were past before I had a chance to answer.
I finally got him to let the problem rest and come back to it at a later time and got to finishing the Jurassic Trail. I found these trails on the west side of Klondike Bluffs easy to ride. They were almost perfectly flat and devoid of technical sections.
Back to the Trailhead
I found Cindy and Kayley waiting in the car as I finished the ride. Just past our car I noticed Nick packing stuff into his pick-up truck. I went over to thank him again and to meet his girlfriend.
While entering the driveway to the KOA I was once more overwhelmed by Mother Nature’s beauty. This time my photo captured the full moon rising over the LaSal Mountains.
- I did not accomplish my goal. There were two trails I missed (I blame it on the flat tire) during my day at Klondike Bluffs. The trails I missed were Chilkoot Pass and Inside Passage, both short ones on the western side of the Bluffs.
- I must have seen 50 mountain bikers in the Klondike Bluffs area that day.
- Miner’s Loop was scheduled to open a couple months after this visit.
- Cindy and Kayley did get some great photos of Delicate Arch.
During most visits I take many more photos than I can place on a page. To view every image I captured on the Klondike Bluffs … 86 photos in all, please visit my Photo Gallery Site.