We wrapped up Thompson Canyon and turned to do Polar Mesa, another new trail for the group. It looked like it would also be an easy and mellow trail. The start was fairly straight as it worked its way along a wide and easy dirt road.
It was a sudden change to be climbing switchbacks. The views of the trail below us were really nice as we climbed. This part of Polar Mesa wasn't part of the Kokopelli Trail so we didn't see any bicycles. We didn't see anyone, in fact.
It was a very easy road to the top, and when we got to the mining area we stopped near the big tower and got out to stretch our legs. It looked like the trail continued there but it was not graded or well used. We checked out some maps and it looked like we could make a loop out of the top of the trail. We planned on coming back to that spot after checking out the end of the trail.
The end of the trail wasn't far from there and we were soon parking at the overlook. We explored the area for a while. There were closed mine shafts, leftovers from mine car tracks, and metal structures used during the mine's days. The views were nice, and it was worth the walk down to the mine.
We got back in our rigs and went back to the mine where we had stopped earlier. This time we kept going, following the most-used tracks. It was narrower and not maintained, and some sections were a bit rocky. It was completely different than the rest of the trail.
You could do a lot of exploring in that network of trails, but we chose to find a good loop. We had to weave through cows at one point, but it was pretty easy to find the main trail again. That put us at the top of the switchbacks.
We went down the switchbacks and out the easy trail to the end of Gateway Road. When the dirt changed to pavement at the end of the Gateway Road trail we stopped at the pull-out to air up. We also checked out the big views from there and went to look for dinosaur footprints in the rock. We found a few, and it was a good time.
Even though our day didn't go as planned we still had a nice time. We got out of the heat and into the mountains where it was cool (and sometimes chilly). That also put us back in Moab in time for a good dinner together. It was a great day.