Painted desert! Badlands! Whatever you call it, the Farmington area has not only the slickrock of Alien Run
Trail but singletrack threading through this picturesque terrain as well.
Badlands are erosional landforms so there is lots of sand and silt. The arroyo crossings tend to be sandtraps and there are numerous short steep climbs that can be loose under foot.
Take La Plata Highway (170) about 0.8 miles north from Pinon Hills Blvd. There is a large parking area and a chained gate. The sign on the gate says no motorcycles or ATVs but they are frequent users. Be sure to fasten the gate behind you as you cross private land onto BLM land.
The area is confusing because the singletrack has been overlaid by a web of motorcycle and ATV tracks. The Hiking Project mobile app
is a necessity and starting a GPS odometer at the gate is highly recommended.
As you head up the road the sparsely-vegetated hills turn into badlands rather abruptly. At about 0.82 miles from the gate you'll see singletrack veer off to the left. Continue on up the valley, crossing roads and arroyos as the terrain develops hoodoos and tent rocks.
If you hear gunfire ahead, it's likely at King Tank. Approach with caution and noise so that a temporary cease-fire can be negotiated. This is desert BLM land after all, where the citizenry drinks beer, shoots guns, drills gas wells, twists throttles, stomps accelerators, and even mountain bikes.
You'll cross a broad valley at King Tank around 2.2 miles, feet crunching on shell casings of every caliber and description. Watch out for glass too, here and in other spots. It is fairly conspicuous and localized.
At about 4 miles you'll ascend steeply up onto Pinon Mesa. There is a fair bit of road in this section, but eventually you'll get back on singletrack.
Around 6.6 miles you'll start to turn east, then at 7.7 to the south. Watch the Hiking Project mobile app
in this area as various routes will take you off into oblivion.
Now you'll head downhill through Pinon forest for a couple miles, with lots of short climbs. This is almost all fine singletrack.
Around 11.5 miles you transition back to Badlands. There are narrow sand ridges that exclude motos here.
At 12.4 miles turn south onto a gas line road and complete the loop.