Jackalope is a loop ride in the McCoy Flat
trail system west of Vernal. It climbs from McCoy
Flats to a ridge overlooking the city. The clockwise loop is 8 miles, with
an altitude change of 1000 vertical feet, finishing at 6300.
Possibly the most technical spot on
the downhill... The trail squeezes between a sandstone slab and steep
side-slope just before a sudden plunge. Photos May 20, 2010.
|Most of the trail is intermediate technical. The descent can
be a bit tricky if you don't like loose rock. Aerobic requirement is
moderate. All of the climbing is stuffed into three miles of steady
The ride is a clockwise loop. It starts from the McCoy trailhead. Go
east from the fenced parking on the
"And Cookies" trail, with a fork onto Jackalope a mile later.
The first 1.5 miles are easy singletrack across a flat of sage and grass.
The trail fork where Jackalope forks
off of And Cookies. Mellow singletrack here. Our destination is the top of
those mountains in the distance.
||The next three miles is climbing, at a fairly mellow average
of 300 vertical per mile. There are no ledges or tricky stuff on the climb.
Just straight-ahead singletrack.
At first, you're in a juniper forest on a base of
clay. Occasional wildflowers dot the hot dry slopes. The trail follows a
Climbing on a trailbase of clay and shale through the
junipers, with occasional outcrops of sandstone.
|The second half of the climb is on windswept slope among
small shrubs, grasses, and windflowers. The pitch remains about 6%. Behind
you are the mountains of the Strawberry Ridge. To the north are the
snowcapped peaks of the Uintas.
Approaching the summit, McCoy Flat is
lost in the distance. The round rocks are outflow from the distant Uinta
At mile 3.4, you reach the top of Serpendipity (think
Serpent-twisty plus dips). Keep left uphill to stay on Jackalope. (Serpendipity descends all
the way down and across the road to Retail Sale.)
The trail fork. Why do Jackalopes
always have two-prong deer horns, rather than antelope horns? They're
supposed to be half-rabbit, half-antelope, right?
|Continue climbing uphill to the ridgeline. The trail gets a
little steeper just before the top.
As we climb steadily uphill, Serpendipity twists down the gully to our
||Stop at the top of the ridge to look at the views. To the
northeast, you can see a piece of Vernal and surrounding farmland, with
the exposed Weber Sandstone on the mountains behind the valley.
View northeast. Across the ridge, we
see a grain silo and the eastern end of town along US-40.
|The descent is the most demanding part, as the upper half
has frequent boulder-laden turns. The steeper areas are mined with loose
round rock that can catch on your tires and skid. Keep those fingers away
from the front brake while turning!
These sections are best done "bombs away" rather than slow
As we descend southwest down the
ridge, we see a meander of the Green River in the distance.
||Lower on the mountain, the trail becomes again becomes
twisting dirt ribbon. Four miles of downhill.
The trail slope becomes more gentle,
and the rocks disappear from the trailbase. Here the trail is holding onto
a little strip between two washes.
|There's one nice tech spot where the trail rolls across a
narrow ridge, turns and skirts an overhanging sandstone slab, then drops
steeply to the valley floor. Walk it if you have to.
||Riding notes, clockwise loop (ONE WAY
0.0 Find southbound ST on southwest side of DT
Trail = And Cookies N40 21.028 W109 34.902
0.1 Fork L (R = return trail) N40 21.022 W109 34.806
0.3 Cross DT N40 21.126 W109 34.80
1.0 Fork R onto Jackalope (L=And Cookies) N40 21.412 W109 34.992
3.4 Fork L uphill (R = Serpendipity descent) N40 22.212 W109 33.127
4.0 Ridgeline, veer R and downhill N40 22.355 W109 32.598
5.7 Cross Serpendipity (keep straight) N40 21.503 W109 33.452
7.9 Back at And Cookies, fork L
8.0 Back at corral
Back on the red dirt of the valley
floor, we roll up and down as we head back to the trailhead.
While driving toward Vernal on US-40, pass mile marker 138, then turn
right on the narrow paved McCoy Flats road ( N40 23.427 W109 35.752). If
you miss McCoy Flats road, go to the viewpoint overlooking Vernal and
backtrack exactly 2 miles, then turn left into the road. Drive 3 miles.
Immediately after passing a corral on your left, turn into the large
fenced BLM trailhead parking lot.
Camping: BLM land, primitive camping allowed. No developed
Bathroom: At trailhead
Water: Bring your own.
Bike services, maps, trail conditions:
Altitude Cycle, 580 East Main, Vernal. 435-781-2595