One Way Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation: 5419-5856 feet
Cellphone: 3-4 bars
Time: 1 hrs. 30 mins.
Facilities: Vault Toilet at Kokopelli Trailhead
Trailhead: Mack Ridge
Attractions: Scenic overlooks, wildflowers
View Mack Ridge in a larger map
The Mack Ridge 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 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. 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.
I waited at the trailhead for the sun to get above the clouds that were hanging over the Grand Mesa before starting out. There had been a light rain last night that had left the air with a co-mingled fragrance of sage, juniper and dirt. The Mack Ridge is a pretty spectacular hike and the scene was set to make it even more so.
The trail starts up the ridge as it leaves the trailhead but after a short distance it heads around to the backside of the hill. After traversing the backside of the hill the trail starts climbing back to the ridge.
The trail gains in elevation with each encounter with the ridge and the views become more spectacular the higher you get. At this point about a mile of the hike is already in the bag. Compared to the Moore Fun trail this one must be a breeze for the bikers.
After crossing a saddle the trail heads around to the back of the mountain again. The next stretch of trail is down right fun. The trail moves through some large boulders in a secluded setting behind the rim of the cliff. At about 1.3 miles there is a short section where everyone that passes must do so on foot.
After coming around the back of the hill it's back to the ridge once more. At about 1.5 miles into the hike I was almost halfway done with the Mack Ridge trail.
The trail now begins following a road that leads away from the cliffs. This area is pretty much the high point of the trail. The mountain is a lot flatter in this area like a large mesa that eventually slopes off to the north and west. At round 1.7 miles there is a trail marker that directs you onto a single track trail and off of the road. Biker trails being what they are this one once more heads back towards the ridge.
Back at the ridge again the trail barely clings to the rim as it follows along the narrow lip of a path. This continues until about 2.5 miles into the hike.
Here's one last look at the view before the trail regains the road and heads away from the ridge one last time. The trail follows the road for about half a mile until it meets up with the Lions Loop trail.
My plan is to follow the Lions Loop, heading east, along the river and back to the Mack Ridge trailhead. I could follow the Lions Loop the other way and walk along the Hawkeye road to get back or I could simply turn around and go back the way I came. That would actually be pretty fun but I would kind of like to go along the cliffs above the river. No matter which way you go the distance is real close to the same. The Mack Ridge trail is a must see in my opinion. If you want to see it for yourself though you are going to have to 'Take a hike'.