Moab: new trails, old favorites

Not surprisingly, Moab made’s Top 10 Mountain Bike Destinations list a few weeks ago.

A few others on the list are Fruita; Crested Butte; Whistler, British Columbia; Downieville, Calif.; and Sedona, Ariz.

It’s a pretty impressive list to be part of, and thanks to the more than 80 miles of new trails built in Moab during the past several years, it definitely still deserves its place on the list.

Though it’s only a short drive away, I had only been biking in Moab twice in the past seven years.

“We can go to Moab anytime,” we say. And yet, we never go. So a few weeks ago my boyfriend and I set out to change that.  We planned a four-day biking trip to Moab. 

Fall is a busy time in Moab, like it is here, so our biking plans were strategic:

■ Friday we’d drive over early and ride Slickrock. Because it’s so popular, it’s best to choose a weekday for Slickrock.

■ Saturday we’d drive out to the Brand Trails. Everyone spreads out on those trails, so even on a busy day you probably won’t run into too many people.

■ Sunday we’d ride Amasa Back and Captain Ahab. Most people would be heading out of town by then, and besides, Ahab isn’t as popular as Slickrock or the Sovreign trail, which we would ride Monday.

So, with all that planned, we loaded up the car and headed west.

As we passed the Sand Flats Recreation area’s guard shack, the butterflies in my stomach seemed to multiply. I was headed to ride the “World-Famous Slickrock Trail” for the first time. All I knew of Slickrock was it was steep in both directions: steep downhills and steep uphills. And it was all 200-million-year-old Navajo Sandstone that would feel like sandpaper if I fell over and slid down it.

Slickrock is between 10 and 12 miles and makes a lollipop. The “stick” portion is about two miles long, and during this part I thought I might just keel over right there on the trail. However, once I focused on my breathing and realized the climbs were doable, I calmed down and really enjoyed the ride.

The views are spectacular. The trail is like nothing I’ve ever ridden, and most of it is really entertaining. If you decide to try it, take plenty of water and several snacks. This trail is rated “advanced,” so be careful who you take with you.

Saturday, after an awesome breakfast at the Moab Diner, we headed out to the Brand Trails on U.S. Highway 191 north of Moab.

The Brand Trails have rides for all abilities. The Bar M trail is basically a jeep road. It’s suitable for riders of all ages. The Lazy EZ and Rusty Spur also are beginner trails and are great for getting used to singletrack riding. Circle O is a great place for an introduction to rock riding, and harder trails such as Bar B, Rockin’ A and the North 40 will keep advanced riders entertained.

There are plenty of other trails in the area, too, so you can explore for a few days here. 

On our ride, we headed out to the Bar M and rode that to its intersection with the Rockin’ A. The Rockin’ A offers a “stay on the trail” challenge for riders to follow a painted line throughout the whole ride.

The purpose of this is to keep riders off of a few patches of dirt and cryptobiotic soil.  It’s a fun challenge to attempt.

Rockin’ A is mostly intermediate riding with a few tricky spots thrown in. It connects to Circle O, which is how we rode it, but you also can reach Circle O via the Bar M trail.

After riding these two, we had energy for one more and headed back toward the parking area to pick up the North 40 trail, which was just completed in the winter of 2012. This was one of my favorite trails of the trip.

North 40 is a mix of singletrack dirt and rock riding. Long stretches of terrain similar to 18 Road were interspersed with sections of rock that required some technical finesse. It’s only four miles long, so if you’ve got energy left after riding some of the other trails, check this one out.

Sunday was our day for Amasa Back and Captain Ahab.

I guess I’m a glutton for climbing punishment because I enjoy climbing up the rocky and steep Amasa Back trail. It’s a good thing because you have to climb more than two miles to reach the Captain Ahab trail. This newly built extreme trail will test your aerobic and technical limits. There are moments of adrenaline-pumping downhill that will leave you wanting more, and moments of lung-busting climbs that will make you think you can’t possibly make one more pedal stroke.

If you’re looking to test yourself or just need a crazy technical ride with drops, climbs, exposure and views, this is the trail for you.

After this ride we were in desperate need of pizza and discovered Paradox Pizza next to the Moab Brewery. Next time you’re in Moab, check it out.

On our last day we sadly and slowly loaded up the car and headed out for one last ride on the Sovreign trail off Willow Springs Road on U.S. 191. Follow the main road about two miles to a dirt parking area with a large map/sign. From there, hop on your bike, turn left, and then turn left a short ways down the road onto singletrack.

Sovreign has everything: technical rock riding, smooth flowing singletrack, sand and more. We like to ride it as an out-and-back, but you can ride all the way to Dalton Wells road and create a loop.

Use Sovreign as a playground or practice area. There are great spots to practice pop-ups or just to perfect your rock riding skills. We only rode about eight or mile miles at Sovreign on Monday, but after three other days of riding, that was plenty.

As we headed east on Interstate 70, we decided not to wait so long to go to Moab again. What we have here in Fruita and Grand Junction is awesome, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for something else.

I think I can fit a little bit of Moab in every now and again.

Daily Sentinel online advertising coordinator Julie Norman can’t do enough mountain biking and backpacking on her days off. Email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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