The Jones Ranch Trail is an easy-intermediate trail in Payson Canyon
near Payson Lakes, perfect for a
short ride by a well-conditioned but beginning mountain biker. The trail can be ridden
out-and-back, or as a loop using a short section of the Nebo Loop road,
riding the trail either uphill or downhill.
Looking east toward Payson Lakes, a
narrow connector trail links Jones Ranch to the lakes (the lakes are a fee
area). Review and first photos June 5, 2006, with update June 19, 2017.
The Jones Ranch trail is 2.9 miles long, but most riders only do the
portion up to the junction with Rock Spring at mile 2.0. At this spot, Jones
Ranch joins eastbound Rock Spring for a bit, then splits off to the south as
a smaller and tougher trail that almost nobody rides.
heads up the hill. About 1/10th mile uphill, logs hold a gravel bed that
raises the trail above the surrounding ooze. You may find some mosquitoes in
The lower trail has a lot
of recent improvements. The surface is mostly packed dirt, with occasional
rocks and roots. But depending on moisture and horse traffic, there may be
some damp and deeply hoof-hammered spots. Starting altitude is 7500 feet.
The slope is reasonable.
Pedaling through a clearing, with the creek just
below the photo.
The trail is firm enough to ride in early June. But the
local cowboys ride this trail while it's still muddy, so you may find some
areas of the trail extremely rough and "post-holed." These areas
are usually short and easily walked, and they smooth out as more hikers,
bikes, and horses hit the trail. If you're taking a new rider who can't
handle rough trail surface, check the trail conditions on the UMB forum
Much of the trail runs alongside a small creek, which
often dries out in the fall. In late spring and early summer, a number of
oozy areas create trickles across the trail.
Payson Canyon mini-loop with Jones Ranch, east
Rock Spring, and northeast Blackhawk
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Jones Ranch all the way: Follow the signs for trail 123 (L at 1.9
miles, R at 2.1). Uphill,
it's 800 vertical feet over 3.0 miles, then a quick drop to the upper
trailhead. (If you're doing it downhill on a big DH rig, plan on pushing the
bike 100 yards up the hill to start.) If you're looping via the road, add 2.5
miles of pavement.
Looking through the aspens at a
newly-improved section of trail, correcting a chronically-swampy area.
Jones to Rock Spring: Our favorite. Going uphill, hold left at the
1.9 mile fork and again left at 2.1 to go east on the Rock
Trail to the Nebo Loop near the guard station. This is 700 vertical feet
of climbing and 3.25 miles. If you're looping via the paved road, add 2 miles.
Bruce climbs through the aspens about
a mile uphill from the trailhead.
A very nice singletrack loop ride is to go up Jones Ranch
and veer onto eastbound Rock Springs as above, then go a tiny bit uphill
on the Nebo Loop road and follow the doubletrack on the left up to the
Blackhawk Trail. There's also a singletrack connector just a bit downhill.
Go north on Blackhawk, then turn left when you hit the Loafer Mountain
Trail and climb back to the road. At the road, coast a half-mile downhill
to the parking area. The ride is just over 6 miles.
View south as the trail crosses a
Uphill (counterclockwise) loop ride:
0.0 ST uphill on R side of road N 39° 56.544 W 111° 39.449
1.7 Trail joins from L (Payson Lakes)
N 39° 55.383 W 111° 38.939
1.9 Rock Springs joins from R, keep straight
N 39° 55.204 W 111° 38.908
2.1 Rock Springs continues straight (L)
(Jones Ranch trail forks R) N 39° 55.120 W 111° 38.695
3.3 At Nebo Loop road, turn L N 39° 55.662 W 111° 37.948
5.3 Back at parking
The terrain alternates between open
meadows and aspen groves, with occasional fir and pine.
Getting there: Going south, take
the Payson exit 250 from I-15 and turn left. Head into Payson on U-115 to
the traffic light, then turn left (100 North, U-198). About 1/3 mile
later, at the top of a small hill, turn right at 600 East. Zero your
odometer here. Lower trailhead -- Drive 10.9 miles up the Nebo Loop Road.
(Pass the Grotto Trail and Bennie Creek Cutoff Trail. Pass the Shram Creek
trailhead and cross a cattleguard, then go another 1.8 miles up the road.) Watch for
a parking area with a wood-rail fence on your left. The trail starts
uphill on the right side of the road, across from the parking area. N 39° 56.544
W 111° 39.449
Rock Spring trailhead -- Keep driving uphill past both Payson
Lakes entry stations. About 1/4 mile after the second entry, watch for a
small wooden building on the right, then turn right into a dirt road with
a "Rock Springs" sign. N 39° 55.662 W 111° 37.948 Upper Jones Ranch trailhead -- Drive about 2 miles uphill from the
lower trailhead. Watch for a "Jones Ranch" sign on the right. N
39° 54.992 W 111° 38.068.
Turn right into the dirt road and veer right to a primitive camping spot
about 150 yards later. The trail starts on the south (uphill) side of that
camping area. N 39° 55.068 W 111° 38.109