Moab Mountain Bike Trails – Gomoab.com
Moab Trail Guides
Here are some short descriptions of Moab’s mountain biking trails. You’ll want to pick up a Moab Trail Guide from the main street visitor center or purchase a book online before your visit. For a printable guide without all the fancy web site stuff click here.
Slickrock Bike Trail
On Sand Flats Road, 2.3 miles from the intersection of the Sand Flats Road and Millcreek Drive in Moab. Google Map LinkLength: 9.6 miles (main loop); 2.2 miles (practice loop).
Type of Ride: Slickrock; loop ride.
Area Attractions: The Slickrock Trail possesses a terrific combination of challenging riding and scenery. The Practice Loop offers an introduction to riding on slickrock. However, the Practice Loop is every bit as difficult as the trail itself — only shorter.
Route Description: The trail is marked by white dashes painted on the slickrock. Intersections, points of interest and caution zones are indicated with yellow paint.
The Slickrock Trail was originally designed for motorcycle use. The trail is open to both dirt bikes and mountain bikes. There are bathrooms, trash bins and recycling at the start of the trail. Great camping is right nearby in the Sand Flats Campground. This is a fee area.
Note: If you’re wondering about the technical level of the Slickrock trail consider giving the 2.2 mile Practice Loop a shot first. It’s not easy but if you have some skills on a mountain bike it can be a fun ride just by itself. People have died while attempting the main Slickrock trail but not from the difficulty, but from getting lost and not having the right clothing, enough water and food to survive till being found. Please prepare for the ride especially if it’s hot.
I think most people will agree that this trail is very technical and hard. Most beginners will whip and beat without mercy their partner who takes them on this trail without warning them of the difficulty. Except for Katie Christiansen, who likes that kind of stuff.
Monitor and Merrimac
Trailhead: Drive north on U.S. 191 for approximately 15 miles then turn left onto a dirt road just north of highway marker 141, cross the tracks and park by the bulletin board.
Type of Ride:A combination of road, slickrock and some sandy areas. This is a loop ride.
Area Attractions:View of the Monitor and Merrimac buttes, Determination Towers, and the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail.
Route Description:The marked route goes up Courthouse Wash, past the historic Halfway Stage Station, and circles a large butte between Courthouse and Mill Canyon. Near the end of the loop, riders may wish to stop at the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail. This ride makes a fairly easy family outing. Don’t be discouraged by the sand in the beginning.
Most people consider this ride to be of a moderate level.
Gemini Bridges From Highway 313
This ride utilizes a shuttle vehicle left at the Hwy 191 intersection of Gemini Bridges Road. You will take your bikes to Hwy 313 and park at the intersection of 313 and Gemini Bridges. Google Maps Link. You’ll ride from 313 on Gemini Bridges Rd till you reach your shuttle vehicle at 191/Gemini Bridges Rd.
Trailhead:On Highway 313 at a point 0.9 mile west of the Mineral Bottom turnoff (12.6 miles west of the Utah 313 / US191 junction). Google Maps Link.
Length:13.5 miles. One way from 313 to 191.
Type of Ride: Rough dirt road; shuttle required.
Area Attractions: Gemini Bridges, a pair of natural rock spans, spectacular views of Behind the Rocks, and colorful rock formations.
Route Description:The Gemini Bridges Trail is well known to local riders for its scenery and long descents. Starting from Utah 313, the trail, except for the climb out of Little Canyon, is nearly all downhill back to Highway 191. Approximately 5.5 miles from Highway 313, the spur route to Gemini Bridges is encountered. The Gemini Bridges are located at the end of this spur which is about 0.2 miles long. After viewing the bridges, enjoy the rest of the marked trail down to Highway 191. This bike route utilizes a county road and is shared with jeeps, ATVs, and dirt bikes.
This is a fairly easy ride in the technical sense but the road is very rough and the distance is fairly long. If you’re used to riding a bit then this will be a fun, enjoyable ride.
Porcupine Rim Trail
Trailhead: The Porcupine Rim Trail begins on the Sand Flats Road, reached by turning left off Moab’s Main Street onto 300 South, then right when the road ends, then second left (you’ll see a brown sign). From the Fee entry gate, drive 7 miles. The trailhead is on the left, near the small cattle-watering tanks. A BLM outhouse is at the trailhead. Google Maps Link.
Type of Ride: 11 miles of jeep route; 3 miles of singletrack. You can do it as a loop at 34 miles from town if you are super burly.
Area Attractions: Great views of Castle Valley and the Colorado River; exhilirating downhill riding.
Route Description: This popular trail is probably the second-most difficult bike trail in the Moab area. Descending nearly 3000 feet from upper Sand Flats Road to the Colorado River, this trail demands technical riding skills. Its backcountry nature demands that riders pay close attention to the route markings found along the trail.
Alternate Shorter Route: We sometimes ride this as an out and back. From the trailhead on
Sand Flats Rd you can ride up to the overlook above Castle Valley (Incredible Views). 6 miles round trip, 1000ft elevation gain to the overlook. If you’re short on time or the legs are burning this is a great loop.
This route is technically and physically demanding. If you’re on a hard tail you just might whimper during this ride. Expect something on your bike to pop or break. The downhill is long and technical.
Trailhead:16 miles north of Moab on Highway 191, just north of mile marker 142. You’ll see the 1st parking area on the right just off the highway. No doubt there will be cars already parked there. If you want to skip riding your mountain bike on a jarring, cobblestone dirt road for a couple of miles you can bypass this 1st parking area and continue to the second parking area where the real riding starts. Just drive down the dirt road will you reach the obvious parking area.
Length: 16 miles round-trip from 1st parking area. 11.5 round trip from the second parking area.
Type of Ride: Dirt road and slickrock.
Area Attractions: Slickrock riding; views of the Klondike Bluffs in Arches National Park; dinosaur tracks along slickrock portion of trail. Look for circles of stones surrounding dinosaur track.
Route Description: The trail starts on a maintained county road and then becomes an old jeep trail. At about the 4 mile mark, the trail ascends white slickrock fins, rejoining the jeep road at the top of the bluff. Riders must leave their bikes at the Arches National Park boundary. A short walk up an old roadbed leads to great views of the Park. No bikes or dogs are allowed in the Park.
The Kokopelli Trail
Kokopelli’s Trail is a 142 mile multi-use trail that goes from Loma, Colorado to Moab, Utah. The primary use of the trail as a through route is by mountain bikes. Trail surface varies; the trail utilizes dirt roads (of varying degrees of difficulty), paved roads and some small portions of narrow track. A multi-day Kokopelli’s Trail outing requires extensive planning. This description is intended to give you a rough idea of what to expect some portions of the trail.
Kokopelli’s Trail includes 8 small camping areas (2-3 campsites each) along its length. Each camping area has a toilet; some have picnic tables. Each of these is described briefly, along with vehicle access information about the campsites. Please remember that there is no water anywhere along the trail.
Colorado State Line to Westwater Ranger Station: Kokopelli’s Trail follows an old dirt road through here. The road is somewhat narrow and also includes a long steep hill that requires four wheel drive. A Kokopelli’s Campsite is located at the top of the hill at the Bitter Creek overlook. Vehicle access to the campsite is best gained via the Westwater Exit on Interstate 70 (Exit #225). While there is also a small campground located at the Westwater Ranger Station, this campground is usually quite busy with parties preparing to raft Westwater Canyon.
Westwater Ranger Station to Cisco Boat Landing: Kokopelli’s Trail follows a series of dirt roads the entire length of this segment. Due to sand and some small ledges, four wheel drive is recommended if full sized vehicles wish to traverse this portion. Alternatively, vehicles may drive to Cisco on Interstate 70 and use the paved road to get to Cisco Boat Landing.
Cisco Boat Landing to McGraw Bottom on Highway 128: The trail follows a graded dirt road from Cisco Boat Landing to Fish Ford, where a Kokopelli’s Campsite is located adjacent to the Colorado River. (This campsite is easily reached by any type of vehicle from Cisco). The trail leaves the Fish Ford road (prior to Fish Ford Camp) and becomes progressively less driveable. When the trail reaches the Colorado River, it becomes a single track trail. The trail again becomes a four wheel drive road, crosses Cisco Wash, and becomes a graded county road for the last mile before reaching Highway 128. Full sized vehicles wishing to go from Fish Ford to Highway 128 must go back to the town of Cisco and follow Highway 128 to McGraw Bottom.
McGraw Bottom to Dewey Bridge via Yellow Jacket Canyon. (Alternately, riders can go from McGraw Bottom directly to Dewey Bridge on Utah State Highway 128.) This portion of the trail is comprised of somewhat difficult-to-drive dirt roads. Due to two very bad sections, it is not recommended for full sized vehicles, even if they are four wheel drive. Support vehicles should rejoin their parties at Dewey Bridge.
Dewey Bridge to Fisher Valley: Kokopelli’s Trail crosses Dewey Bridge and goes up a very good county road. Cowskin Campsite is located four miles up the road. At about six miles from Dewey Bridge, the trail leaves the graded county road and goes through a fence. While this section of the trail was originally a road, it has become virtually a single track. Support vehicles should not follow bikers on this portion of the road.
The trail rejoins the main county road and continues up Entrada Bluffs. The road gradually worsens as it ascends. Support vehicles should only go as far as their drivers feel comfortable. Under no circumstances should support vehicle drivers start down “Rose Garden Hill” (when the trail starts to descend, you have entered the approach to Rose Garden Hill).
The trail then descends into Fisher Valley. Support vehicles may rejoin their bikers by going up the graded Onion Creek Road. The Onion Creek road is susceptible to flooding, but is usually passable to any high clearance two wheel drive vehicle. (There is a private ranch in Fisher Valley, and the Onion Creek Road accesses this ranch. Please follow the Kokopelli signs carefully to respect private property and to stay on the trail.)
Fisher Valley to North Beaver Mesa: From Fisher Valley, the trail ascends a hill and descends into Hideout Canyon. This road is very steep, and four wheel drive is required to get out of Hideout Canyon (in either direction). There is a Kokopelli Campsite in Hideout Canyon. From Hideout Canyon, the trail ascends to the Manti-LaSal National Forest. This portion of the road is driveable only by four wheel drive vehicles. Once in the Forest, the trail goes through the ponderosa pines of North Beaver Mesa. The trail intersects the graded and graveled county road that runs from Gateway, Colorado to Moab, Utah. Turn right (toward Moab) on this road.
North Beaver Mesa to Porcupine Rim: the trail from North Beaver Mesa to the top of Fisher Mesa (and the Bull Draw Kokopelli Campsite) is graveled and passable by any type of vehicle. From Bull Draw, the road is paved for 12 miles. It descends into Castle Valley, accessing the Rock Castle Kokopelli Campsite. The paved road then ascends into the mountains, accessing the Cold Springs Kokopelli Campsite (this is called Mason Draw on some maps). The trail leaves the paved road just after a beautiful viewpoint. The trail goes down an old, eroded, brushy road, which is not passable by full sized vehicles. It reaches the Sand Flats Road, where support vehicles can rejoin the bikes (motor vehicles should continue on the paved road to the Sand Flats Road, turning west on Sand Flats). The trail goes down the Sand Flats Road, passing the Porcupine Rim Kokopelli Campsite just above the Porcupine Rim Trail.
Porcupine Rim to Moab: The trail simply follows the Sand Flats Road all the way into the town of Moab. On the way, it passes the many campsites in the Sand Flats Recreation Area, and also passes the Slickrock Bike Trail parking lot. Support vehicles will usually have no problem with any portion of the Sand Flats Road.
If you are doing the entire Kokopelli’s Trail, you should be advised that extensive planning is necessary. The season of year must be carefully considered; elevations range from 4000 to 8000 feet. In Spring, snow can still be a problem in the mountains while heat is starting to increase in the desert. Providing sufficient drinking water can also be a challenge, especially if you do not have a support vehicle. However, the trip is a great adventure and makes a very enjoyable outing.