Mountain biking the RAT trails in Ridgway, CO

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Learn everything you need to know about mountain biking the RAT Trails in Ridgway, CO including best trail link-ups, trail tips, and more!
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Before discovering the singletrack on the RAT trails in Ridgway, CO I thought all Colorado mountain biking required a lung-busting climb before eventually dropping into a fun, scenic descent (looking at you Teocalli Ridge!)

But the RAT system (Ridgway Area Trails) above Ridgway, Colorado proved me wrong. This network of over 20 miles of trail has amazing flow, nonchalant climbing, a variety of terrain, super fun descents, and stunning views. I was very much impressed. So much so that we scrapped our plans to ride Fruita the next day and stayed to explore more of these rat-named trails (Ratical, Big Cheese, Rat Trap, etc…).

So if you find yourself in the Ridgway area, I highly recommend checking them out. You won’t be disappointed!

Learn everything you need to know about mountain biking the RAT trails in Ridgway, CO

Where & what are the RAT Trails?

The RAT Trails are located about three miles north of Ridgway, Colorado near the base of the San Juan mountain range. The trail system was first established in 2011 and has since grown to over 30 miles of singletrack for all levels of riders and outdoor users.

Learn everything you need to know about mountain biking the RAT Trails in Ridgway, CO including best trail link-ups, trail tips, and more!

RAT Trail Parking

There are several places to park and access the RAT trail network, but the main parking area is off of County Road 10 at the base of the Big Cheese Climb. You can also park higher up on CR-10B if you want to explore more of the upper trails without a big climb. Finally, there’s parking off Highway 550 across from Ridgway State Park that gives quick access to the Karni Mata Loop.

Things to know before riding the RAT Trails

Trails are multi-use

The RAT trails in Ridgway, CO are multi-use so expect to share the trails with hikers, dogs, trail runners, and other mountain bikers. Please be courteous, keep speed in check, give hikers/runners the right of way, and say hi when they pass!

Elevation

Ridgway is situated at 6,985 ft, so it’s pretty high in elevation, especially if you’re traveling from out of state. Take your time on the climbs, bring plenty of water and snacks, and maybe don’t try to cover all the trails in one go.

Trail direction

All of the RAT Trails are technically bi-directional, but some trails are definitely better-ridden in a certain direction. Many of the trail signs will have an arrow pointing in one direction and say “more fun this direction”.

Here are the trails that are better as descents:

  • Exterminator
  • Squeeker
  • Rat Trap
  • Ratical

Here are the trails that are better as climbs:

  • The Big Cheese
  • Rattus Maximus

Here are the loops that are better in one direction:

  • Karni Mata Loop is best ridden counterclockwise
  • The Plaugeground is best ridden counterclockwise
Learn everything you need to know about mountain biking the RAT Trails in Ridgway, CO including best trail link-ups, trail tips, and more!

Ridway Area Trails Map

The RAT Trails are very well marked with signs and trail maps at intersections. It’s still always a good idea to have the TrailForks or MTB Project app downloaded to your phone.


Route Recommendation

There are lots of ways to link up the RAT Trails in Ridgway, CO. The below loop hits most of the best descents in the network, but there’s tons of opportunity to make the trail longer (or shorter)

Rat Pack Loop

  • Diffilculty: Intermediate
  • Mileage: 10.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,196 ft
  • Route directions: Lower RAT System Trailhead > The Big Cheese > Ratical > The Plaugeground (counterclockwise) > Lower Double Crosser > Rat Trap > Squeeker > The Maze > CR-10B road back to the parking area
  • GPS/Map: TrailForks, MTB Project
Learn everything you need to know about mountain biking the RAT Trails in Ridgway, CO including best trail link-ups, trail tips, and more!

Make it your own:

  • Add the Karni Mata Loop – this is a fun lollipop loop on the northern end of the trail network. The climbing is mellow but sustained for about 1.3 miles and then the back half of the loop is pure, flowy downhill. This lollipop loop with add about 5.6 miles and about 670 feet of climbing. Ride the Karni Mata Loop counterclockwise.
  • Give a stab at Exterminator – I love techy trails, but honestly I didn’t love this one. I don’t think it’s worth doing unless you really want to check it out. Most of the rocky tech is ridable if you have the skills except one steep rocky switchback descent. If you want to add it to the loop I would drop into Exterminator after climbing the Big Cheese and the take Rattimus Maximus back up to rejoin the route.
  • Try Splinter and Speedy Gonzales – I didn’t get to ride these two trails on my two day tour of the RAT Trails, but I imagine they would both be fun descents!
  • Lap Ratical – Ratical is one of the most fun (imo) trail in the network, so if you’re just looking for some flowy turns, you can lap it a few times.
Learn everything you need to know about mountain biking the RAT Trails in Ridgway, CO including best trail link-ups, trail tips, and more!

Other things to do in Ridgway Colorado

Ridgway, Colorado is a cute little mountain town with lots to do. Here’s what I loved aside from riding the RAT Trails

  • Grab coffee at Cimmaron Coffee and Books
  • Visit the clothing-optional Orvis Hot Springs. (We didn’t actually get to soak because there were SO many people there when we drove through. The baths come highly recommended, though, if you can catch it during a slow time).
  • Stuff your belly with pizza and beer at the Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery.
  • Camp at Ridgway State Park. This park is located right across from the RAT Trails. The campground is really nice with private spots and access down to the Ridway Resevoir.

Have you ridden the RAT Trails in Ridgway, Colorado? What did you think of this network? What are your favorite routes and loops? Let us know in the comments!

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Learn everything you need to know about mountain biking the RAT Trails in Ridgway, CO including best trail link-ups, trail tips, and more!
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