Johnny Behind the Rocks is Lander's mini-redrock desert country. There's not much slickrock, but the scenery with its sandstone cliffs and redrock outcroppings is reminiscent of southern Utah. Lots of work has been done on the trails here, resulting in great riding in a beautiful setting.
Johnny Behind the Rocks is the best three-season cross-country mountain bike trail system near Lander. The trails wind through cream-colored outcrops of Nugget sandstone and over the red Chugwater formation. You’ll wind through juniper trees, limber pines and sagebrush and past spectacular views of the Wind River Mountains. The area is managed by the BLM and together with the local cycling club, the agency has done lots of work on these trails to make for some great riding.
What Makes It Great
There are a number of loops that can be combined for different levels of difficulty and distance. All trails start from the Johnny Behind the Rocks parking area, which is 15 miles southeast of Lander on Highway 287 heading toward Rawlins. You’ll see the parking area on your left after you pass several red rock ridges. It’s through a gate off the highway. Make sure to leave the gate as you find it, as cattle are grazed here at some times of the year.
You can do one or combine a couple or all of the following trails, depending on your time and energy.
a. Johnny Draw to Red Ridge
95 percent singletrack
660 foot climb
To start this loop, head east or right out of the parking area on a single track for 100 yards before turning to the north and climbing for 1 mile to a saddle. The trail then winds up and down through sandstone and junipers to the intersection of three trails and a two-track road.
Turn left at the intersection and descend a fast, but occasionally sandy .5 mile trail to another intersection. Turn left again, ascending a short, sandy singletrack gut-buster for 250 yards to another intersection, this one with a two-track. Turn right and continue climbing another 250 yards to gain Red Ridge. Wind through junipers for .5 miles to a subtle summit. From here the fun is nonstop as you descend the narrow red ridgeline for 1.5 miles back to the parking lot.
b. Johnny on Top:
364 feet climbing
Johnny on Top can be ridden in both directions, but if you want to a downhill experience, ride it clockwise. You’ll follow the trail up Johnny Draw from the parking area to the three-way intersection where you turn left for the Johnny Draw – Red Ridge Route. For Johnny on Top, continue heading north or straight at the intersection. You’ll pick up a singletrack that climbs up to the ridge to the east. Turn back to the south and let ‘er rip. There is one short, steep climb up a two-track midway, before you continue dropping on singletrack. The trail has some sandstone steps with good landings and a few tight switchbacks before you intersect a two-track that takes you to Highway 287. Turn right and ride about a mile back to the parking area.
c. Johnny Falls Trail:
1.2 miles one-way
248 foot loss in elevation out, gain on the way back
The Johnny Falls Trail peels of the Johnny Draw – Red Ridge Trail just when you turn south and start climbing up to the final ridge. The trail junction is marked by two pipes sticking up out of the ground. You’ll head west along a wash on a fun, rolling singletrack. Watch out for stiff junipers, they don’t brush aside if you get too close!
After .5 miles or so along the wash, you’ll climb up into the sage and curve around to Twin Creek and the waterfall. Take a break, turn around and head back to rejoin the other Johnny trails.
d. Other options:
There's a lot of development going on around Johnny Behind the Rocks, so be on the lookout for new trails. You can also piece together a few options on your own. For instance, at the top of Johnny Draw, you can continue north on the two-track called the Dry Wells Road for .5 mile or so until it comes to a T-with another dirt two-track. Turn left on the road and head back south. You’ll climb up and over a hill and drop back down to the intersection with the Johnny Falls Trail and the climb to Red Ridge.
Who is Going to Love It
With several loop options, there is something for everyone. It’s also a great place to run, hike or ride your horse.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
All trails start from the Johnny Behind the Rocks parking area, which is 15 miles southeast of Lander on Highway 287 heading toward Rawlins. You’ll see the parking area on your left after you pass several red rock ridges. It’s through a gate off the highway. Make sure to leave the gate as you find it, as cattle are grazed here at some times of the year.