Rest on One's Laurels? Not Moab Mountain Biking!
- Posted On
- May 06, 2015
- Southern Utah
By Kirstin Peterson —
My first trip to Moab happened in the late 1980's when my boyfriend asked if I would go on vacation with him to Moab. My reply was "Where is Moab and why do we want to go there?" and my imagination immediately traveled to an exotic sunny beach somewhere far away. When the response was "It's in Utah has some great mountain biking." I was all in. That first trip, camping with new friends, riding epic trails and concerns that we wouldn't make it back before dark, was by far the best vacation or trip I had ever taken in my life. Wide open spaces, gorgeous vistas and trails that pushed our boundaries in every sense of the word, I was hooked. Within a year I was a Moab resident, a mountain bike guide, and forging a new life for myself in the still new Moab mountain bike industry.
Untold numbers of riders have tested their skills on the classic Moab rides over the years on Slickrock, Porcupine Rim, Poison Spider Mesa and Amasa Back trails. Many have returned but after conquering the terrain, there is often an attitude of "been there, done that." And almost all of Moab's early big name trails were 4x4 routes or motorcycle routes. Consequently, as dedicated mountain bike trails have sprung up around the country, the pull to return to Moab lessened for many. But there are now more than 100 miles of new reasons to return to Moab. In the past 10 years a dedicated group of enthusiasts, trail designers, builders, land agency representatives and local government representatives have pulled off the impossible dream - creating a vast network of trail systems that showcase Moab's scenery, spectacular terrain and give every level of rider miles of trails to explore. Credit goes to Grand County's Trail Mix Committee which brings all these folks together and makes the trail magic happen. Support comes from Moab Trails Alliance, a non-profit that produces great maps of all the trail areas with proceeds funding both trail building and maintenance
Families with young budding riders may head to the Moab Brands Trails and try Bar-M & Rusty Spur or tackle the Agate and Jasper singletrack loops at North Klondike's new trails. Klondike Bluff is a longtime favorite of many for its dinosaur tracks, slickrock and nearby Arches National Parks rock formations. New trails that begin from both the original trailhead and the north trailheads lead riders to many new discoveries on the Mega Steps, Alaska, Dino-Flow and EKG trails. Routes are well-marked and locally produced maps available at all bike shops will help you keep on track with trails rated by ability.
Other new (and old) destinations include the Magnificent 7 trail system. Seven sections of trails link together and parallel the classic Gemini Bridges 4x4 road with fun and twisting routes that can be ridden via a shuttle allowing you to ride through to the bottom of the Gemini Bridges Road. Ultimately, it spits you out at the Moab Brands Trail area and more singletrack to direct you back to town. The upper extensions to the famous Porcupine Rim Trail allow one to shuttle to different trailheads all the way into the La Sal Mountains to Geyser Pass at 10,600 ft. That's the start of the Whole Enchilada Trail system (for advanced riders only) which tests the most proficient downhill rider all the way to the Colorado River. There are different starting points open seasonally to access Hazzard County, Upper Porcupine Singletrack (UPS) and Lower Porcupine Singletrack (LPS) trails and several shuttle companies in town can get you there. A new and soon to be integral portion of the Whole Enchilada is the Jimmy Keen Trail which will cut out a jeep route section and add more singletrack miles to this truly epic journey.
Completely new trail areas can be found for all abilities of riders. The Klonzo Mountain Bike Area, located past the Sovereign Motorized Trail system, has trails for kids and the young at heart plus more dinosaur tracks embedded in the rocks. This stacked loop system means you can ride in almost any direction and have options for longer, shorter, harder or easier trails. Everyone finishes here with a smile on their face.
A great partnership formed between Utah's State Parks and our local Trail Mix trail builders when Dead Horse Point State Park opted to create a mountain bike specific trail system. The Intrepid Trail opened in 2009 and the park immediately saw a 27% increase in visitors the first year. In 2014 a new set of trails opened, doubling the mileage and allowing cyclists to explore more of the fabulous terrain with jaw dropping views along the way. The spring grand opening of these trails brought dignitaries from all over the state, including Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox who showed his own mountain bike skills off to the big crowd of proud trail builders and supporters.
Moab's newest trail system is located just off of Hwy 313 on the way to Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands National Park. Navajo Rocks is named for the Navajo layer of sandstone that traverses through this area and is the same rock layer that supports the famed Slickrock Trail. New locals' favorites, such as Ramblin' and Big Mesa, lead riders close to the towering cliff faces and through fun and challenging singletrack on the north side of the highway. On the south side, Rocky Tops and Coney Islands also can link ambitious riders to the 7-Up trail which leads to the full Magnificent 7 routes nearby.
For those not spooked by exposure and big drops, Amasa Back now has a full singletrack series to satisfy the hard core rider with challenging uphill on the classic 4x4 route or the new easier singletrack Hymasa Trail. Options present themselves all the way to the top with Capt' Ahab as a viral sensation for incredibly fun and beautiful way back to the trailhead, or ride out to Pothole Arch and test your mettle on Rock Stacker and Jackson Trails overlooking the Colorado River.
And wait, there's more… But I'll leave some of Moab's gems for you to discover. Part of Moab's mystique has always been finding your own experience in the breathtaking landscape which boasts two national parks plus Dead Horse Point State Park. There are infinite ways to enjoy this new playground of adventure. Check in with local bike shops for trail conditions or hire a guide service to learn much about the local history, flora and fauna as you ride handpicked trail options. And buy a couple of our local maps so that you can help fund this amazing trail system. You will thank yourself for making the trip and who knows, you may choose to relocate and call Moab home. DiscoverMoab.com
Kirstin Peterson wears several hats and they all have something to do with Moab mountain biking. She is on the City council, an elected position, sits on the boards of the Grand County Trail Mix Committee and the Moab Trails Alliance and, in her spare time, owns and operates Rim Tours, Moab's finest mountain bike guide service. RimTours.com