A Nice High Desert Loop
The Thumper Loop starts at The Raptor trailhead inside Dead Horse State Park. We paid the $3 for bicycle users… and the ranger allowed us to drive in to the Raptor trailhead, as long as Cindy immediately left the park after dropping me off (she was going to go check out the Tuzigoot Indian Ruins nearby).
The ranger handed me a map of the park… which I immediately handed to Cindy, then entered the park.
I was trying to drive… and struggling to read the photo-copied park-map when Cindy noticed a sign with the names of several types of birds. She said, “follow that sign to find the trailhead.” I asked her why… and she said all the listed birds were Raptors… damn… here I was looking for a dinosaur!
The trailhead had a separate parking area, but I pulled right into the trailhead loop… since Cindy was going leave immediately. I was taking my bike off the rack when some guy came bolting out of his 5th wheel yelling “your going to be towed if you park there!”
I yelled that my wife was going to leave but he continued… not even listening. We decided to just ignore him and he disappeared back inside his rig. I gave Cindy a kiss goodbye and she told me, as usual, to be careful. I told her I would call her when I was done.
There was a kiosk to tell me about the trail. I would be riding the Raptor Trail… which would run into the Thumper Trail… which would end up merging into the Lime Kiln Trail. There were also the usual warnings for snakes, mountain lions, endangered flowers, dangerous birds, etc.
Most of Raptor was relatively flat, occasionally interrupted by a series of 45-yard hills. The first 25 yards of each hill started out smooth… the next 20 yards was covered with loose rubble… then topped with a lip of cap-rock, a 6 to 12 inch layer, like the crust on a cut apple pie. To make it up these hills I tried to get a good run on the smooth… and keep my momentum over the top of the rubble, but I never once made it over the lip. Every time I got my front wheel up on the cap-rock …but not the back. At least five hills …the same result!
Less than half-way up the Raptor trail I came across the best, most versatile gate I’ve ever seen. The creator must have known all possible users… with an extra tall swinging part for horse riders, and a raised ramp for bicycle riders to roll over and hikers to walk over. The ramp was made of bars, spaced out like a cattle guard. I didn’t have to dismount (first time ever at a gate). I just rode right over the ramp, but… I couldn’t help but wonder if it did, indeed, keep the cattle in.
Please enjoy this interactive map, which shows my trip from Alissa’s house… to East Golder Ranch … and back to the Chase Bank. I took no less than 7 roads.
The last flat stretch of trail ends at the junction… Thumper Trail:right… Bones Trail:left. I was doing the Thumper Loop… so I took the right… and had a blast. The Thumper Trail (the second leg of the Thumper Loop) headed off across the top of the plateau and then it started drop offs… just like the Raptor trail in reverse… except most of the rubble was gone. Just a series of 6 inch to 2-foot drops with fast single track between.
A few stretches were pretty sandy, but as long as I kept my speed up I glided across the top. Thumper wound down the face of an arroyo, and I suddenly found myself in a meadow of shoulder high sagebrush. I was astonished, as most meadows are covered with grass… and why were these plants all the same height? Maybe all of the brush was planted at the same time or… there was a 5-foot height restriction for that meadow. I took a few photos, and promised myself I would ask Cindy when I got back.
After climbing out of that meadow I quickly came to the junction with the Lime Kiln Trail, the second part of the Thumper Loop. The Lime Kiln started out just like the Thumper… but the drops started to get taller with an excess of broken off cap-rock to land on. I did a lot less jumping and a lot more maneuvering to get around each boulder. Some parts were like riding down a waterfall… others a cascade of rock. I did promise Cindy I would be careful.
I came to a sign saying RATTLESNAKE OVERLOOK with an arrow pointing right and Lime Kiln’s pointing left. A hundred yards of pedaling placed me at the overlook… with a view into a large canyon. The view was worth the little extra effort.
From there the Lime Kiln Trail got rougher as it swung around and began to descend into that same Rattlesnake-Overlook canyon. The photo-copied map I had been given said there was actually supposed to be a Lime Kiln. I never did see one or a sign for one.
At the bottom of the Lime Kiln trail there are a series of trails to get me back to the campground. They are well signed until you get dumped out onto the black top road near a bridge. I recognized the Raptor Road to the right even though there was not a sign. I crossed the bridge and headed up the last leg of the Thumper Loop (the blacktop road) to the trail head to ride again… this time taking the Bones Trail. I saw no one near the 5th wheel as I filled my water at the adjacent (and empty) RV spot. Thumper Loop completed… Bones Trail here I come!
The video below will give you an idea of what this trail was like. To watch the video on a full screen click the icon in the lower right corner just to the right of the YouTube emblem.