Round Trip Distance: 4.8 miles
Elevation: 4589-5168 feet
Cellphone: 3-4 bars
Usage: Hiking - Biking - Dogs
Time: 1 hrs. 40 mins.
Facilities: Vault Toilet at Kokopelli Trailhead
Trailhead: Mack Ridge
Attractions: Scenic overlook
View Lions Loop in a larger map
The Lions Loop trail is part of the Kokopelli Trails system just south of Interstate 70 between Loma and Mack. The Kokopelli Trails are some of the most popular mountain bike trails in Western Colorado. The Lions Loop trail can be accessed from either the Mack Ridge trailhead or a parking area at the west end of the Hawkeye Road. Both locations are pinpointed on the Google Map for this hike. The Mack Ridge trailhead is about 2.25 miles west of the Kokopelli Trailhead on the Hawkeye Road. If you would rather drive down to exit 11 on Interstate 70 you can drive east on the Hawkeye Road for about 1.9 miles to get to the Mack Ridge trailhead. There is a parking area at the Mack exit of Interstate 70 plus if you drive further west on the Hawkeye Road there is another parking area there. The Mack Ridge trailhead is a couple tenths of a mile up the hill from the Hawkeye Road. If you aren't in a vehicle with moderate to high clearance you can park at the bottom of the hill and walk up to the trailhead from there.
If you start at the west end of the Lions Loop trail the first couple miles travel along a 4-wheel drive road. Several sections of the road get very steep as the road climbs over Mack Ridge. Since I had just completed hiking the Mack Ridge trail I was joining the Lions Loop trail a little over a mile from the west end. I had hiked that section of the trail the previous week while hiking the Troy Built Loop trail.
The Lions Loop trail bends east at an area above the Colorado River called 'Crow Bottom'. At this point the trail becomes a single track as it leaves the 4-wheel drive road.
The Lions Loop trail runs along the rim of a bench area more than 300 feet about the Colorado River. The trail doesn't change a great deal in elevation as it traverses the bench. The trail follows the same contour as the Mack Ridge trail that follows the highest most ridge above the Lions Loop.
There are a few sections of trail that are pretty rocky. They aren't too bad for hiking but they probably present a bit of a challenge for bikers. For the most part the trail was pretty smooth.
There are some nice views of the Steve's Loop trail that is circumjacent to a bench that is just above the river.
The Mary's Loop trail can be seen approaching from the east as it rounds a bend of the Colorado River clinging to the rim of the cliff that raises precipitously over 350 feet above the water below.
The Lions Loop trail continues to wrap around the lower slopes of Mack Ridge as it approaches its junction with the Mary's Loop trail. I haven't talked with any bikers that have ridden the Lions Loop trail but the few that I observed on the trail were making quick work of it. As far as hiking goes I found the trail to be enjoyable. I hiked the trail without encountering another soul although I did see 4 riders above me on the Mack Ridge trail.
The last half mile of the trail is shared with the Mary's Loop trail. It is uphill to the trailhead on Mack Ridge but the elevation gain is only about 80 feet. There were only 4 or 5 vehicles in the parking area at the trailhead but once I drove down the hill to get back on the Hawkeye Road there were at least a dozen more at that parking area. The section of the Lions Loop that I hiked took less than 2 hours to complete. The remaining section that I hiked the previous week took about 30 minutes so even with that it was a pretty short outing. If you need a new place to 'Take a hike' you might want to consider the Lions Loop trail.