Face-off Series: Fruita vs. Brevard
Several times a year, we get calls or emails from clients interested in multiple trips to compare destinations for them. How does Fruita compare to Moab? How does Crested Butte compare to Sun Valley? Where does St. George fit in? We get it, there are a lot of choices and if you’ve never spent time in a specific region of the country, it’s hard to know what to expect when you visit.
That’s where our new “Face-Off Series” comes in: over the next few months, we’ll compare and contrast two destinations at a time; destinations that we’ve been asked about multiple times, and that appeal to our clients for similar reasons.
To kick off the Face-Off Series, we’re looking at two destinations that couldn’t be more different: Fruita, CO and Brevard, NC. Why did we pick these two? Two reasons. First, our trips to these two spots are typically during the same time of year: spring or fall. The ideal time to ride either of these two spots is usually once things warm up a bit in the spring, or later in the fall once our mountain destinations are under snow. Second, despite the terrain being very different, the two destinations are actually quite similar in terms of riding style. Keep reading to find out what we mean.
Comparison #1: Type of Riding
We’re going to break down each Face-Off to cover four separate “categories”, and Type of Riding is our first look. This is where despite Fruita and Brevard being very different, they’re actually quite similar. Yeah, that’s what I said. Now, what the hell do I mean?
In both locations, you’ll find an awesome variety of terrain that gives you a multitude of trail styles. For Fruita, we’re talking about the combination of 18 Road, Kokopelli Loops, and the Lunch Loops. The trails at 18 Road are fast and flowy, where if you hone your skills you don’t have to touch your brakes or pedal for two miles. Kokopelli offers a great combination of both flow sections (Mary’s, parts of Horsethief, Wrangler) and technical sections that will push your limits (Moore Fun, Horsethief, Mack Ridge). And then finally there’s the Lunch Loops system 10 minutes down the road in Grand Junction, where there are enough technical spots to challenge even the best of our riders. Trails like Holy Cross and Eagle’s Wing are super fun to session and try over and over again.
Diversity is the name of the game in Brevard too. Even though Fruita is high desert and Brevard is a temperate rain forest, the style is very similar. In Brevard you get flow trails for days in Dupont State Forest, where trails like Ridgeline will have you grinning from ear to ear. Also in Brevard you get some East Coast slickrock on Cedar Mountain and Big Rock. Just across the valley is Pisgah National Forest where technical, rooty, steep riding is the name of the game. If you want to see what you’re made of, check out Bennett Gap, Black Mountain or Avery Creek.
Comparison #2: Best Time To Ride
Another area where Brevard and Fruita are quite similar covers the popular question “When Should I Go?” Well, the obvious answer is any time. Sure, you can ride Brevard or Fruita in the summer when temperatures are at their hottest. But we wouldn’t recommend it. To us, the ideal time to ride both is during the spring and/or summer. In the spring, Fruita offers temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s with absolutely perfect trail conditions. Brevard is similar, where the flora is blooming, things are green and flowering, and the trails are the perfect amount of damp.
In the fall, both locations can be absolutely perfect too. Fruita is mostly immune from any early season snow that typically hits the Colorado mountains, which means that fall lasts most of September, October and November. Brevard is ideal as well during the fall months with changing leaves, slightly cooler temps and mostly empty trails after early October.
Comparison #3: Signature Ride
Sure to stir up some debate, we like to think of each location in terms of their signature ride. To us, this means “if you only had one day to ride in this spot, which trails would you hit?” For Brevard, to us the answer is a Black Mountain loop. Black Mountain sits only a few miles from The Hub, the famous bike shop at the entrance to town. This means you can ride it from town, spend a few hours on the bike, and end your ride with a beer and donuts at the Pisgah Tavern.
Black Mountain starts with a big climb up Clawhammer Road, where you have a decision to make about 30 minutes in: do you tackle “Full Black” or just “Middle Black”. Full Black entails a huge climb, some hike-a-bike, and technical riding that makes all but the best of us walk a little bit. Middle Black is still a big climb, but the descent is mostly rideable with above-average technical spots and lots of flow towards the bottom. Either of these options is worthy of your time in Brevard.
In Fruita, the signature ride happens on the Kokopelli Loops. The loops are mostly seen as two halves, with the eastern side comprised of Mary’s, Wrangler, Rustler, and Horsethief (Moore Fun too). The eastern half has Steve’s Loop, Lion’s, Mack Ridge and Troy Built. If you’re feeling good and want to tackle them both, we can recommend a big 25+ mile ride that combines the best of the whole system.
To us though, the best bang for your buck 20-miler includes Mary’s (which doubles as the start of the Kokopelli Trail), Horsethief Bench, Steve’s Loop, and Wranglers. We almost always do some off-shoot of this ride on our Fruita trips. You’ll get flow sections, technical stretches, and amazing views over the Colorado River. Trust us, it’ll blow your mind.
Comparison #4: Overall Feel
Yeah, we get it: this one’s kind of subjective. But a lot of clients ask us what a place is like outside of the riding, in case they want to spend an extra day or two before or after the 4-day trip itself. Let’s start with Fruita. Fruita sits in the high desert on the Colorado-Utah border in a very arrid climate along the Colorado River. Grand Junction is about 15 minutes away, but the town of Fruita doesn’t have a whole lot going on other than the mountain biking itself. Expect quiet nights, wide open spaces, and some kick-ass rock formations everywhere you look.
The town of Fruita is very supportive of mountain biking, as it’s the main economic driver for the area. 15 years ago, there was nothing here except oil and gas and dinosaur bones. Colorado National Monument sits between Fruita and GJ, and is definitely worth a few hours of exploration. Other than that, it’s all about the mountain biking.
Brevard is entirely different in nature, as it’s close to Asheville and is a fairly popular tourist town for reasons outside of mountain biking. Brevard attracts people year-round because of the Blue Ridge Parkway and all of the waterfalls in Dupont and Pisgah, so there’s a wide variety of folks coming to town. There’s a pretty cool little downtown with lots of restaurant options and shops, plenty to keep someone busy for most of a day.
Additionally, the Brevard-Asheville area is well-known for it’s glut of breweries including New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, and Oskar Blues among several others. That alone can keep some of our clients happy for weeks on end!
So after reading everything above, it all comes down to… what do we recommend? Of course we’re not going to play favorites here, so we’re going to tell you what we think for both: we recommend our Fruita trip if you’re looking for wide-open spaces, huge views, and a trip that’s all about the mountain biking. The trails will make you feel like a kid on a roller-coaster and they’ll challenge you to the max, and you’ll conquer features you never thought possible with friends you just met.
We recommend our Brevard trip if you’re looking for the quintessential East Coast riding experience: tight forested trails, technical rocks and roots, and absolutely perfect dirt. Days in Dupont will be fast and flowy, while our days in Pisgah will be tough and challenging with big wins and occasional setbacks. We’re super excited about the overall experience between the local community and the team we have in place.