Best Mountain Bike Trails In Utah – Unique slippery terrain. Beautiful desert scenery. tons of songs. If you want to improve your mountain biking skills, do yourself a favor and spend a week in Moab.
A fall trip to Moab is a highlight of my mountain biking season. At first glance, mountain biking in Moab seems borderline crazy. I remember admiring the photos of friends riding on what looked like another planet, with their tires stuck to vertical red sandstone walls before I left for the ride. The place where the roads ended and the cliffs began seemed incredibly difficult. Moab’s mountain bike trails looked the most dangerous.
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But after my first visit eight years ago, I learned that Moab is a good place to go beyond your name and touch the carefree side. Moab mountain bike tours also cater to more than just the adrenaline junkies they are known for. It’s a great place to be a little scared if that’s something you’re interested in, but it’s not necessarily a requirement. Of course, vertical rocks and exposed ledges make for the best photos, but one of the funnest things I’ve ever had on a bike was flying over the soft bits of smooth rock.
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Moab offers a unique riding style that allows for great progress on the bike, while the stunning desert scenery adds to the atmosphere.
The wide selection of trails allows for gradual progress and the length of some of the big adventure rides always helps me feel more and more confident on my bike as the days go by. Now I try to travel twice a year, a little longer each time. Moab is Utah’s best mountain biking destination, and once you start your pilgrimage, it’s impossible to stop.
Navajo Rocks has a little bit of everything and is my favorite place to warm up on day one. The scenery here is beautiful. I like to eat from the top of some of the high places in the Rocky Tops Mountains to see La Salles still covered in snow in the spring. There is dirt, slippery terrain, some tricky technical sections and some drop offs. It’s enough to entertain advanced riders while allowing intermediate riders to get their feet wet in the world of desert riding. Some low sections and short but steep climbs give the bike a unique feel, constantly reminding me to trust my bike in this new environment.
I wouldn’t consider this trail for true beginners (check out the Moab brand trails closer to Hwy 191 for riders who haven’t ridden before), but it’s a great place to start if you have some riding experience.
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The Ramblin’ Trail at Navajo Rocks is one of Moab’s best warm-up spots.
I prefer to park at the stream just east of the Navajo Rocks main parking lot and head to the Rocky Peaks for the clockwise loop. The entire loop is about 27 miles, but if you’re looking for a loop under 10 miles, take the Rocky Peaks to Middle Earth, cross the road, and finish off with a jump on the Ramblin’. You have a total of 1,000 feet of elevation gain and about 9 miles to cover. The fast and rolling smooth waves in the middle of Ramblin’ are some of my favorite spots in all of Moab.
Navajo Rocks has enough to keep advanced riders entertained while allowing intermediate riders to get their feet wet in the world of desert riding.
Most would agree that the Slickrock Trail may be the most famous trail in Moab, and it lives up to its reputation. Driving up and down the steep undulating edges of the red rock above the city always gives me the surreal feeling of being on another planet. When I first arrived in Moab, I quickly learned that the smooth red rock that covers the Moab desert is not smooth at all. It’s one of the nicest and most comfortable surfaces I’ve ever ridden. The slickrock is so hard that I’m about half way up before I realize my bike is almost vertical and I don’t even notice.
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Slickrock is the first road I ever hit in Moab. Although it’s a challenge for beginner and intermediate riders, it’s like a crash course in desert riding (without the extreme bumps!). After nine miles, you’ll have more confidence in the bike. Before tackling the full Lollipop circuit, I recommend a short one-mile Slickrock training trail. It only takes a few minutes and is a nice gentle introduction to what lies ahead.
As you drive up and down the red rocks with the amazing desert scenery, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Mars.
Because it’s more rock than traditional singletrack, the white lines on slickrock help guide the trail. If something looks interesting to ride or jump on, you can veer off course a bit, but if you stray too far off course, it can sometimes be difficult to find your way back. Among the smooth stones, there are quite a few sand traps. They look great, but can eat your tires and throw you off balance, so be careful with them.
To get to Slickrock, drive through town to the Sand Flats Recreation Area. A day pass for a private vehicle is $5 or $10 for a full week—enough time for a few mountain bike rides in Moab.
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Slickrock is the first road I ever hit in Moab. Although it’s a challenge for beginner and intermediate riders, it’s like a crash course in desert riding (without the extreme bumps!).
Know Before You Go: Sand Flats Recreation Area Private Car Day Pass $5 or $10 per week
Riding the Whole Enchilada is like a right of passage for most mountain bikers. The world-famous bus route is an amazing way to spend a day, traveling roughly 30 miles of technical singletrack through high-altitude sections reminiscent of Colorado mountain biking to the Colorado River. La Salsa has snow for most of the year, so transportation from the city will bring you around depending on the conditions. If you decide to drive the whole thing, it’s best to go in the fall when there’s less snow.
A brutal 1,000-foot climb to Burro Pass begins, where you climb 11,126 feet and descend 8,000 feet back to town. The weight of the whole enchilada depends mainly on the duration. There is a lot of rock engineering and some sections for hiking and biking, but the terrain is gentler than the dirt roads in the Moab area. But it’s easy to get in your head when someone has a mechanic.
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Especially since the whole enchilada is a great way to get peace of mind by hiring a mountain bike guide in Moab.
The Whole Enchilada has it all and is a must-do for any experienced rider visiting Moab, but it can easily go over your head if you’re not prepared. The Complete Enchilada by Stanislav Sedov is licensed under CC BY 2.0
If something goes wrong, you’re far from town, so make sure everyone in your party has adequate food, water, and basic repair supplies. Even warranty spots on driveways take forever and aren’t really that much easier than driving all the way. I liked riding it with a smaller group because the more riders you have in the group, the longer it takes. I made the mistake of not bringing warm clothes, which are easy to forget when it’s 80 degrees in Moab. Burro Pass is above 11,000 feet and almost always cold.
Some choose to self-drive through the Sand Flats Recreation Area to ride the 11-mile Porcupine Rim, the final segment of the Whole Enchilada. Touring endless drops and ridges on Porcupine at sunset is an experience every rider should experience at least once.
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The world famous bus route is a great way to spend a day traveling approximately 30 miles of technical single track from the high mountains to the Colorado River.
Visitors to Moab with an experienced mountain guide will get the most out of this trail!
I could come to Moab and ride Captain Ahab over and over again and be happy. The Amasa Back area offers some of the best Moab enduro with fast descents over steep undulations, drops and ridges. To get to Upper and Lower Ahab, you’ll take the Hymas Trail, a fast and fun climb on smooth rock with a few sharp sections. All in all, prepare for a real mountain of possibility.
I experienced this the first time I drove through this area