Ribbon Trail

Round Trip Distance: 7 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Skill level:
Elevation: 5193-6662 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 3 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Lower Ribbon Trail
Fee: none
Attractions: Popular downhill mountain bike ride

The Ribbon Trail in the BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area is a unique place for hiking and mountain biking. Our calculations indicate that just over half of the hike is on sandstone slickrock. The overall elevation gain isn't apparent just from looking at the minimum and maximum values. The total elevation gain is actually 2,173 feet.

We began at a small pullout along Little Park Road just downhill to the north from the Little Park Trailhead.

The first leg of the hike follows a recently rerouted section of Andy's Loop through a field of large boulders that have settled in the draw.

At a vantage point above Echo Canyon the remainder of the route can be seen although the only obvious sections of trail are those in the canyon directly below. Most of the rest of the trail travels over slickrock much of which is secluded from view.

Upon arrival in the wash about a half mile from the trailhead a post marks the northern end of the Ribbon Trail where it meets with Andy's Loop. The Ribbon Trail follows the wash to the left from this point. The next quarter mile up the wash is very pleasant and for those not interested in the arduous journey to the upper end of the Ribbon Trail plenty of fun can be had just exploring this area.

At the point where the trail climbs out of the wash there is a rocky section that requires a good scramble to get up. There are probably mountain bikers that barely slow down coming off of this and there are probably those that wish they had.

The trail continues through another scenic wash or two and then picks up its infamous ribbon of slickrock that serves as the route for most of the rest of the journey.

One section of slickrock gives way to the next.

And the next.

Some sections are so vast that they had to put trail markers in the middle.

The slickrock gets momentarily interrupted by a feature the mountain bikers call the 'Toilet Bowl'. It can be a bit of a scramble to get up.

Here is a short clip of a group of MB's riding down the bowl.

The slickrock pickups again after passing the Toilet Bowl. Here the edges drop off on both sides to canyons with ponderosa and pinyon pines.

The next section of slick rock was so vast that it was like looking out over the ocean.

Since hiking the Ribbon trail a couple of years ago the upper trailhead has been renovated and a vault toilet was added. Most, but not all, mountain bikers begin here at the upper trailhead and ride the Ribbon Trail in the downhill direction. Hikers could do the same thing and make use of a shuttle ride but for us this is where we turn around and head back the other way.

A section of the slickrock below the Toilet Bowl has numerous casts that look similar to several sauropod dinosaur trackways that we have seen.

The large tunnel in the Andy's Loop section of the trail near the lower trailhead is large enough to hike through. How sound the walls are is another story but they looked okay as we passed through.

There is a short section of trail across the road from where our truck is parked that leads to the Little Park trailhead where there is a large parking area and another vault toilet that was put in at the same time as the one at the upper trailhead. As far as the Ribbon Trail goes, it is a very strenuous hike for only being 7 miles round trip but it is one that we enjoy to do. If you want to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike!.