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Destination Dirt: Trails and Ales in the Southwest

by

The author creating a thirst for later in Cortez, Colorado.

When you load up your mountain bike, running shoes or hiking boots, don’t forget a beer mug.

by Morgan Sjogren 

Lower Indian Creek Trail.

MONTICELLO, UTAH

TRAILS: The lower Indian Creek Trail is a 6.5 mile singletrack treasure that takes you from the Abajo Mountains and drops into Indian Creek—a mountain to desert journey landing you in the heart of the world’s greatest crack climbing destination. During heavier winters you will need to start the route at Newspaper Rock, just off the UT-211 en route to Indian Creek National Monument, because road access in the Abajos can be closed for snow.

ALES: Outside of Moab and Salt Lake City, Utah isn’t exactly known for beer—and certainly not full strength, but the Colorado border is 20 miles away, and so is the Stateline Bar and Grill. It’s the go-to spot for happy hour drinks and appetizers (4-6 p.m.) with typical bar grub. Better order the sweet potato fries.

PRESCOTT, ARIZONA

Prescott: views , ales and trails for miles.

TRAILS: Smack dab between Flagstaff and Phoenix, Arizona, Prescott offers a rugged four-season playground with the feel of both the mountains and high desert without the extreme heat and freezing temps. The 54-mile Circle Trail circumnavigates the city, and connects with an endless network of flowy singletrack that hits the Bradshaw Mountains, some flat prairie lands and the backside of Granite Mountain. At 7,625 feet, Granite Mountain is a 10-mile round trip singletrack, and a scrambling challenge for runners and hikers. But it is also surrounded by plenty of mellow and flat trails. The mountain also offers some of the finest multi-pitch climbing in the Southwest, so bring your rack if you’re interested.

Drink under the stars at Granite Mountains Brewing.

ALES: Just off the Circle Trail, grab a refreshing Cortez Street Blonde to rehydrate at Granite Mountain Brewing. Flagship beers also include the smooth Black Cow Milk Stout with hints of chocolate and coffee, and the Iron King IPA with 56 IBUs derived from robust Amarillo Hops. Founders and current owners Audra and Damon Yamamoto and Damon Swafford are both avid mountain bikers and runners who favor the Granite Mountain area for their dirt fix.

DOLORES, COLORADO

Boggy Draw is a beloved trail system near Dolores, Colorado.

TRAILS: Located in Dolores, Boggy Draw is a fun network of singletrack trails with nothing too steep or technical. The eight miles of the Boggy Draw Trail rolls gently in and out of the trees and lacks big crowds. Despite being at 7,000 feet elevation, it is possible to get on dirt here by late spring. Bean Canyon might be the gem, with 14 miles of solid trail, a stellar view and the biggest climb in the area. Still mucky? Grab your bike. Phil’s World in Cortez is 15 minutes away. Directly across the road from Mesa Verde National Park, these desert miles are some of the most celebrated trails in the the Four Corners. The Hippie House/Trust Loop is a fun 6-mile circuit perfect on bike or foot. Run the loops in the opposite direction of bike travel. Mountain bikers take heed: Do not miss the Rib Cage. Then ask for More Ribs.

Visitors and locals alike at the local watering hole, Dolores River Brewing.

ALES: Not only does Dolores River Brewing Company make some of the tastiest brews in the San Juan region, their woodfired pizzas with mostly local ingredients are perfect after a day on the trails. Sip on brewer Andy Lewis’ personal favorite Pale Ale as you watch your pie bake from your bar seat. You’ll find a unique beer selection with European influences; plus it’s a prime spot for live music. Even Sturgill Simpson once played here.

TAOS, NEW MEXICO

Taos is loaded with trails, from arid canyon terrain to lush alpine tundra. Photo- Terrance Siemon

TRAILS: We love Taos for its mix of bohemian charm, culture and true grit. For some of the best alpine singletrack in the state, hit up the Northside at Taos Ski Valley, or bop over to nearby Angel Fire. Maybe book a shuttle for the South Boundary Trail. If you’re hanging around the plaza, head for the Rift Valley Trail. Out on the Mesa, it’s the Taos Gorge and West Rim Trails. Look for mountain sheep grazing along the rim. Tres Piedras is a favorite cragging spot west of town, or head south to the John Dewey Bridge. Hit up Taos Mountain Outfitters for beta.

Taos Mesa Brewing is where it’s at on the mesa just outside of town.

ALES: Taos Mesa Brewing has three locations, each boasting its own unique draft list and style of food. There’s the Mothership Location with American/Southwest fusion like tacos, burgers and salads. (It’s located right next to the Hotel Luna Mystica, a collection of refurbished vintage trailers available for booking.) In town, the Taos Tap Room has wood fired pizza only mile away from famous South Boundary and the Devisadero Loop. The Ski Valley Tap Room (serving up only suds, no grub) is close to Williams Lake and the Northside. Don’t forget to grab cans of the New Mexico Common IPA for the road.

Have a match of your favorite trails and ales? We’d love to hear about it. For more craft beer and good times out and about check out our Killer Weekend section for ideas about where to go, what to do and how to do it.

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