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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 30 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 using this guide to check the trail outs them out. You won’t be disappointed!
Where & What are the Ridgway Area 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.
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 Ridgway Area Trails 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!
Related: Mountain Biking Etiquette
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.
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”.
Trails that are better as descents:
- Rat Trap
Trails that are better as climbs:
- The Big Cheese
- Rattus Maximus
Loops that are better in one direction:
- Karni Mata Loop is best ridden counterclockwise
- The Plaugeground is best ridden counterclockwise
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.
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)
1. Rat Pack Loop
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
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.
Other things to do in Ridgway Colorado
Ridgway is a cute little Colorado mountain town with lots to do. Here’s what I loved aside from riding the Ridgway Area Trails
- Grab a 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 Ridgway Reservoir.
- What to Know Before Mountain Biking the Palisade Plunge
- Teocalli Ridge: Not All It’s Hyped Up To Be
- Hartman Rocks “Rocks” For Mountain Bikers & Outdoor Enthusiasts
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!