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Farmington and Four Corners-area blossoming into serious mountain biking destinations

Although already blessed with a series of mountain biking trails, the last several years have seen both the rural and suburban areas in and around the Four Corners towns of Farmington, Aztec, Kirtland and Bloomfield blossom into mountain biking heavyweights.

A mountain bike rider pauses along a high spot of the Anasazi Trail system, taking in the diverse terrain. (Courtesy of The Farmington Convention Visitors Bureau)

“It’s really being pushed forward by a pretty broad spectrum,” said Dale Davis, who owns a bike shop in Farmington and also is the chairman of endeavor New Mexico, the state’s outdoor business alliance.

“The city (Farmington) and (Bureau of Land Management) are both working on separate projects and conjunctional projects,” he said. “They’re building trails and mountain bike park-type areas.”

Among the hundreds of miles of mountain biking trails in the area are many suitable for riders of all ages and abilities. (Courtesy of The Bureau of Land Management)

Additionally, “the surrounding areas, Aztec and Bloomfield and Kirtland are working on projects,” Davis said. “The whole area is really working together to develop a mountain biking atmosphere with the trails and everything about mountain biking. There’s a lot of it happening there and it is pretty impressive.”

It is all part of an ongoing push to develop and brand the area as an outdoor recreation hotbed, said Tonya Stinson, Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director.

Cyclists enjoy the annual spring race through the Alien Run course just outside of Aztec. (Courtesy Bureau of Land Management)

“Since we showed what it was capable of doing for our outdoors recreation, we’ve gotten a lot of support and enthusiasm for it,” she said of the locals.

But as the building surge continues, the area is getting more and more notice from outside the region.

“There’s a lot of people all working to go one direction,” Davis said. “There was a pretty good trail presence before but since then (about 3½ years ago) the growth has been pretty exponential.”

The opportunity is there, Davis said, because of the amount of public land.

Mountain biking in the Four Corners towns of Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield and Kirtland has exploded in popularity and drawing riders from across the region. (Courtesy of the Farmington Convention Visitors Bureau)

“Only 9% of the land in San Juan County is deeded land,” he said. “The rest of it is federal or reservation. There’s a lot of BLM land. The local BLM does a lot of work building trail and maintaining trails.”

As a matter of fact, the bureau oversees about 1.4 million acres out of the Farmington field office, said Doug McKim, BLM outdoor recreation planner.

“Our terrain ranges from mild to wild,” he said. “The mountain biking community started with road bikes but now they have these bikes with full suspensions that they do amazing things with, depending on their skills set.”

Think ESPN X Games stuff here.

But there is plenty more than body-endangering rides here.

(Courtesy of the Farmington Convention Visitors Bureau)

“I’m not a hard-core mountain biker, but the terrain is terrific,” McKim said. “We have areas that are just riding pleasure trails with the kids. And we also have the stuff for making huge jumps and that sort of thing.”

It truly runs the gamut, he said.

“We have a lot of slick rock formations with juniper and piñon,” McKim said. “The way the terrain sets up, the ground is packed well. Alien Run … the use is through the roof. A lot of people coming in from Durango because they’re still dealing with the weather up there.”

Alien Run – just outside of Aztec, which is home to an annual race every spring – is kind of the mother of all trail rides in the area with 120 miles ranging from relatively easy to somewhat difficult. BLM recently added a 4.5-mile loop the system and the parking lot is now developed, with toilets, group shelters, hot dog grills, bike racks and a maintenance station with a pump and a few tools.

Here are a few more trails in the area worth visiting, according to the MTB Project.

Anasazi Loop, on Farmington’s north side near the BLM Field Office, is ridden locally counterclockwise covering 2.8 miles along a fast, single-track course.

Animas River Trail is a meandering and tranquil ride along the river and through the woods for about seven miles alongside the river. A multi-use trail, it stretches from Riverside Nature Center and to beyond Boyd Park.

The Road Apple Rally course, named for an annual fall mountain bike race that is more than 40 years old, is a fun ride through the diverse and intriguing high desert plateau. Relatively flat, it spins through the Glade Run Recreation Area, where a plethora of new trails are under construction.