Karni Mata Loop

Round Trip Distance: 2.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 7020 - 7344 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins. (hiking)
Trailhead: East
Fee: none
Attractions: Nice loop

The Karni Mata Loop is part of the RAT-Ridgway Area Trails system that is a few miles north of Ridgway, Colorado. The RAT trails were designed with mountain bikers in mind but they get quite a bit of use from hikers and trail runners as well. Most of the Karni Mata Loop only requires intermediate mountain bike skills but there are a few very steep downhill corners on the north end of the loop that fall into the advanced category.

The loop begins at the end of the Karni Mata trail which connects to the end of the Plagueground trail. Mountain bikers will want to travel around the loop in the counter-clockwise direction. Hikers and trail runners on the other hand will probably have a better time of it going clockwise. There are a couple of very steep downhill corners that are easier to hike going uphill.

Going counter-clockwise the loop starts out with a gentle climb along the side of the mountain.

On this side of the mountain there are plenty of intermediate switchbacks to keep it from getting too steep.

With a relatively smooth surface that doesn't have a lot of tree roots or rocks the trail travels pretty fast. There are a couple of rocky spots but they have a nice path blazed through them.

Around the 1 mile point the trail levels off quite a bit and reaches its high point around 1.4 miles.

As the trail loops around and begins the downhill stretch there is a marker that warns the trail is about to get more difficult. This is a good place for intermediate riders to turn around. You might think that you can always hike your bike when it gets to be too much for you but there are a couple of spots where that isn't an easy option.

You can actually go at least a quarter mile past the warning marker before you reach the first advanced feature and this one isn't all that bad.

The next couple of spots are quite a bit steeper.

Other than the 2 or 3 spots mentioned the rest of the downhill is pretty nice. And if you don't suck riding sharp corners or mountain biking in general then those spots probably won't even slow you down.

I was hiking when the photos for this post were taken while recovering from a broken leg. There were a couple of mountain bikers that turned around on this one but all the rest were eating it up. One person was trail running and seemed to be having an enjoyable time doing that. The Karni Mata Loop is a very nice addition to the RAT trails no matter what your means of travel. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.