Phil's World tops charts

Mountain biking website features Cortez trail system

Riders pass through the tunnel under U.S. 160 heading into Phil's World from the Montezuma County Fairgrounds during the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde ride. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Riders pass through the tunnel under U.S. 160 heading into Phil's World from the Montezuma County Fairgrounds during the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde ride.

Phil's World, the popular singletrack putting Cortez on the mountain biking map, is holding its No. 1 rating on MTBProject.com.

The nationwide poll shows people within an unlimited mile radius of Farmington, N.M., prefer to ride Phil's Worlds signature roller-coaster trails. The BLM bike park promises fast descents, casual climbs and the superfun "Rib Cage" of air-catching whoop-de-doos.

"The top rating is no real surprise because it is so fun," said Paul Adams, a bike mechanic at Kokopelli's Bike and Board in Cortez. "Phil's World is not terribly technical, and the trails are fun for everyone no matter what your skill level."

The BLM trail system includes 26 miles that negotiate several well-signed loops of various difficulty. The area just east of Cortez stays dry longer into the winter, and dries up quickly after storms. The trail has become wildly popular, attracting riders from Moab, Telluride, Durango, and Farmington. It has been written up in the past few years in major magazines including Bicycling.

According to MTBProject.com, "if solitude is what you are looking for, this is not the area for you, at the parking lot at least," which just last week had 70 to 80 cars with empty bike racks. But no worries, the piņon-juniper forests with canyons swallow riders up.

"Because of the one-way direction, once the parking lot is left behind, you would think you are the only one on the trails," the website states.

Be cool and occasionally reach into your pocket when riding Phil's World. The front part of the trail system is on Colorado State Trust Land that is leased and maintained by the Kokopelli Bike Club. The club asks riders who have not paid for a membership to drop $3 per person in the paybox at the trailhead. This money is used to offset the cost of the lease and the required liability insurance and trail maintenance.

The BLM is reviewing a plan submitted by the Kokopelli Bike Club to extend the trails system for 17 miles and add a trailhead and parking area. A map of the plan shows a new loop in the Stinking Springs Canyon area, and additional loops and trails to the north of the park, including around Cash Canyon and Simon Draw.

Viewers to the MTBProject website can take a virtual tour, but it's better to go and check it out yourself.