Horsethief Bench is one of the original trails at McInnis Canyon and a phonomenal mountain biking trail among the Kokopelli Loops. Construction on the larger 142-mile Kokopelli Trail began in 1989 with Mary's Loop, and the now legendary Horsethief Bench was built soon after. These trails helped pave the way for Fruita to become a mountain bike mecca on the Western Slope.
Legend has it that outlaws and horse thieves used to hide among the high canyon walls for safety after carrying out dastardly acts. According to one version of the story, a sheriff and his deputies raided the canyon and killed several men along with the horses they stole! Whatever the true tale of this western trail really is, you can be sure that it features some of the best riding in all of Grand Valley.
The beginning of the trail is the most ominous section, featuring a notorious 125-foot drop-in down to the trail below. According to almost everyone who rides these trails regularly, this feature is nearly impossible to clear and has spelled disaster for some who have attempted it (a quick search of YouTube will reveal why). Expect to walk your bike down the first bit before you get a chance to do any actual riding. What awaits you below is well worth the hike-a-bike as a snaking ribbon of red single track blazes its way over the desert plateau and along 100-foot sunbaked rock cliffs down to craggy overlooks of the Colorado River.
After reaching the edge of the plateau on Horsethief Bench the trail becomes much more rocky and technical as you edge along the cliffs hundreds of feet above the Colorado. The plateau back to the entrance of the trail is crisscrossed with collared lizards, rabbits, and the threatened sage grouse that call this place home. The final section climbs back to the base of the plateau only to find a challenging scramble up the cliffside back to Mary's Loop.
Horsethief Bench is a fantastic mountain bike ride almost any time of the year and is not to be missed, especially at sunset when the canyons glow pink and gold. If you have the room in your schedule, be sure to check out Steve's Loop for more amazing riding.