An off-road playground, built just for bikes.

There’s no need to rub your eyes, friends. You’re not dreaming, and this isn’t April Fool’s Day. Here in 2020, there’s now a brand new, motorcycle-only trail system in New Mexico. What’s more, one of the co-creators of the New Mexico Backcountry Discovery Route is partly to thank for its existence.  

ADV Pulse has a great piece on the backstory behind this newly-accessible backcountry gem that’s clearly a huge gift to off-road riding enthusiasts in the area. Brief synopsis: local off-road enthusiast sees disused road network that he thinks would make great motorcycle trails, finds out who to talk to, and gets the ball rolling.  

It took a whole lot of inter-agency cooperation, as well as a whole lot of fundraising by the BDR and other groups—and it’s been in the works for some time. At long last, the Elephant Rock Motorcycle Trail System is currently open through December 31, 2020, as of the time of writing. Since elevation is located at around 8,500 feet, snow will close it over the winter, but it’ll be back open in late May, 2021.  

Also known as Trail 195, the finished Elephant Rock Loop is around 12 miles long, and is labeled Very Difficult according to local guides. It contains three inner loops, as well as a connector to the better-known Cabresto Canyon (FR 134) in the north. From there, you can easily get to Red River, Questa, or the Eagle Rock Loop Trail.  

Riding the Elephant Rock Loop is fee-free in itself, which is meant to help entice riding tourism to the area. However, New Mexico has certain off-highway vehicle (OHV) permit requirements that riders must meet. If you’re a non-resident from a state that issues OHV permits, you’ll need to bring proof of your current OHV permit with you in order to ride these trails.  

It’s worth noting here that there’s a long list of states that currently don’t require OHV permits or use fees. If you’re from one of those, you’ll either need to obtain a 90-day permit for $18 or a two-year non-registered permit for $48. This rule is strictly enforced, and does also include minors—so display your OHV decal on your bike, or face a possible fine and ban from New Mexico public lands.  

For a full list of states and safety requirements to go check out Elephant Rock, Red River has most of the info you need. Additional details are available via the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service to help you plan your trip.