Mountain Biking in Moab
- Posted On
- Jul 12, 2019
- Southern Utah
Mountain Biking in Moab with your kids.
By Bret Edge
The Whole Enchilada. Captain Ahab. Portal. Say “Moab” in the company of mountain bikers and they’ll drift off into thoughts of gnarly trails with massive exposure and technical moves that require precision, strength and a dose of finesse. But what if you’re a parent, and your budding young mountain biker isn’t quite ready to shred the gnar? Here’s a little secret – Moab’s got plenty of great trails with outstanding scenery for even the smallest riders!
First, an introduction to trail ratings. If you’re a skier, these will be immediately recognizable. Trails are rated as green (easy), blue (intermediate), black (difficult) or double black (advanced). We’ll be looking at only green, or green/blue trails. Food for thought: green trails in Moab are more difficult than green trails in other areas, but they are still rideable by most young or new riders.
Now, let’s get a lay of the land. Most Moab trails exist as part of a larger trail network, each with its own name – Bar M, Klondike, Navajo Rocks, etc. Most networks have at least one trail suitable for little legs, while others, such as those in the Amasa Back area, are better suited for advanced riders.
Bar M, aka the Brand Trails
Just a few miles north of town right off Highway 191, the Bar M network offers four options for families riding with younger or newer mountain bikers. In order of difficulty, starting with the easiest trail: Rusty Spur, EZ, Lazy and the Bar M road. All of these trails can be accessed from the large main parking lot.
Rusty Spur is a short but fun lollipop loop of 2 miles, including the “stick” – a dirt access road. It’s mostly dirt with two cattle guard crossings and a few small sections of slickrock. It can be added into the EZ-Lazy loop for additional “smileage” or ridden on its own.
The EZ-Lazy trails create a 3.7-mile loop of smooth dirt and rougher slickrock sections, a handful of which might require less confident riders to dismount for very short sections. Both trails are loads of fun and Lazy even offers several stellar rest spots with views of Arches National Park!
The Bar M 4x4 road is a 7.9-mile loop that encircles the entire Bar M trail network with minimal elevation gain, outstanding views and varied terrain that makes for a fun family ride.
Some people don’t like out and back trails, but for families, they’re awesome. You can ride out as far as you want/can, take a break, then turn around and head in without committing to a full loop. The Jurassic Trail is just such an option. It’s 3 miles (one-way) of smooth rolling, hard clay surface at the base of a badland like mesa littered with many cool rocks to inspect during snack breaks.
On the north end of Klondike Bluffs is the Beginner’s Loop consisting of the Agate and Jasper trails and 3.9 miles of what might be the smoothest and easiest trails in all of Moab.
All of the trails in the Klondike Bluffs area are especially vulnerable to rain and should not be ridden when wet. If you leave tracks, turn back!
What if I told you that you could ride a really sweet loop right from your campsite? Well, you can! The Wrangler and Rowdy trails take off from the Horsethief Campground for a 1.2-mile figure 8. Ride both, then turn around and ride them the opposite direction to double your fun! Mostly smooth dirt and slickrock with a few easy rocky sections, these are great trails for a fun family ride.
Intrepid Trails at Dead Horse Point State Park
There’s an exceptional trail system at Dead Horse Point State Park providing just under 17 miles of mountain biking bliss. Most of the trails are rated blue, but the green Raven Roll and Intrepid trails can be ridden as an out and back for a total of 4.4 miles. More experienced riders can tack on Great Pyramid and/or Big Chief for a longer, more technical ride with gorgeous views into an ever-changing canyon landscape below.
Bonus: You can stay in a yurt right off of Raven Roll with a large deck, BBQ grill and climate-controlled interior. On a moonless night you’d swear you can see every single star in the sky!
La Sal Mountains
Most of the trails in the La Sals are black or double black rated, but Burl Friends is a relatively mellow blue cruiser that starts near an alpine lake and mostly descends through dense stands of aspen trees. When it’s too hot to ride in the desert, this is THE ride for families whose little rippers are comfortable on intermediate terrain.
Moab Bike Park
Last, but not least, Moab’s got a pretty killer bike park with multiple jump lines rated green to double black, a pump track and a skills park with wooden ladder drops, skinnies and technical obstacles.
There are six bike shops in Moab and they all rent quality mountain bikes. Our favorites are Moab Cyclery, Double Down and Chile Pepper. The service is outstanding at all three, and Chile rents kid’s mountain bikes, including some sweet full-suspension bikes. You can also pick up inexpensive trail maps and get solid trail beta from knowledgeable, friendly staff. Tell ‘em I sent you and they’ll take extra good care of you!
After a ride, reward tired little legs with froyo from MoYo or a yummy treat from Sweet Cravings. The Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center (MRAC) is an oasis on a hot day with multiple pools and water slides. Moab Giants takes visitors back to the Stone Age as you walk a path through the desert surrounded by life-sized dinosaurs.
You’re practically a local now. All that’s left to do is plan a trip, book a hotel and start shredding!