Mountain Biking the Wild Burro Trails–Ron Johnson

Are you an adventurous soul?  Do you love to explore?  Or perhaps you just enjoy riding a bike off the paved road?  If you answered yes to any of these questions then you’ll love riding the wild burro trials and BLM roads of Imperial Dam LTVA.  I’ve been here for only two months now, and I’ve discovered some favorite trails, but there’s still plenty of areas that I have yet to explore!

First, let me tell you about the burro trails if you haven’t already discovered them.  Those narrow, smooth, indented trails that you see out across the desert were made by the wild burros with whom we share this land.   I couldn’t believe it when I was first told what had made the trails, but after finding frequent deposits of burro scat along them, I had to accept the truth.  The burros kick loose rocks out of their path, leaving most of the narrow, single track trails smoother than the surrounding roads!

Here are five of my favorite rides, not necessarily in order of preference.  The first is a wild burro trail from the bottom of Skunk Hollow to the road that leads to Kripple Kreek.   You’ll find the start of this trail at the southern most end of Skunk Hollow.  It’s mostly down hill, with a few climbs out of washes all the way to the road.  I love this trail because it snakes over ridge tops and down slopes all the way to the road that leads to Kripple Kreek.

The second trail is from the southern most campsite in Boot Hill down to the Power Poll Road.  This trail is similar to the first in skill requirement and being a short down hill run.  Once at Power Poll Road, you can go west to Ferguson Road, or take a much more challenging ride east to Senator Wash Road.

The third trail is actually my favorite.  I named it the Senator Wash South Rim Trail, although it has no official designation.  You can find this trail from any of three burro trails that head west off of Ferguson Road between BLM Road 699 and where the Ferguson drops down into Senator Wash.  All three trails merge and follow the edge of the wash, paralleling BLM 699, until it meets up with it near what some people call, “the parking lot”.   This is the smoothest, easiest trail and the one that I recommend for beginners.  

Across BLM 699, the trail continues and someone has marked it with very nice pieces of quartz.  I have named this the crystal trail for that reason.  Running perpendicular to the crystal trail is another burrow trail that parallels BLM 699 on the south side.  This trail will take you almost all the way back to Ferguson Road.  Just make sure you turn left after crossing the second unnamed jeep trail, or you’ll end up being led into a deep wash that is much easier for burros than it is for bikes! This trail is slightly more challenging than the Rim Trail because  of the tall volcanic rocks on both sides of the narrow track.

My fifth ride is actually a road.  If you continue on the crystal trail, or up 699, you’ll come to BLM 727.  This is more of a jeep trail that goes for several miles down to Cistern Road where it reenters the LTVA.  It’s mostly downhill with some steep climbs out of the few washes, which it crosses.  I love this road because I can keep up a good speed while enjoying an incredible view of the area.  There are many trails and a couple of roads that lead off of 727, giving the avid rider many more chances to explore the open desert!

Whether you’re new at trail riding and hesitant to venture out into the desert on your own, or an experienced mountain biker, you’re welcome to join a group ride on Tuesdays at the second bathroom at South Mesa. Times will be posted on the bulletin boards. I’m a novice myself, and only started mountain bike riding this fall at the age of 63, so it’s never too late to hit the trails!


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