Moab Mountain Biking

Moab mountain biking now draws enthusiasts from all over the world.  This southern Utah town has become the undisputed mecca for mountain biking. 

Moab is an awesome destination in itself. With its other-worldly red rock terrain. And its location adjacent to some of the most unbelievable landscapes anywhere. Views that go on forever.

Arches National Park . The La Sal Mountains. Or Dead Horse Point State Park .

But when it comes to mountain biking – especially slickrock biking - Moab mountain biking is unparalleled.

If you’ve been on a slickrock trail, you already know that the term slickrock really isn’t an accurate term. The barren red sandstone is magnetic for bikers from all over the world. But not because of its “slickness”.

Early settlers couldn’t take their metal-shod horses over the rock. Because they couldn’t get any footing on it. Hence the term “slickrock”.

But the traction between the sandstone and today’s fat rubber tires allows riders to seemingly defy gravity.

Of course, the most famous Moab mountain biking trail is the Slickrock Trail .

The most popular mountain bike trail in the world. With over 100,000 visitors each year.

More properly known as the Slickrock Bike Trail, it was originally first developed by motorcyclists in 1969. But since then, the trail has been inherited … some may say overwhelmed … by mountain bikers.

For those of you new to Moab mountain biking, you might want to try the Courthouse Loop or the Canyonlands Sunrise rides.

Below, you’ll find a brief description of some of the more popular rides.

Amasa Back - West of Moab, this ride overlooks the Colorado River. Lots of slickrock. Moderate climb. Advanced technical. Season is March - November.

Arches Loop - A long diverse loop. Includes a paved trail, an old roadway, both dirt and open-rock road, and then paved road. 28 miles (45) km) long with about 2200 feet of climbing. Easy technical but taxing physically. like most of the Moab mountain biking trails, the season is February - November.

Baby Steps - Open rock and singletrack riding. It’s located off the Klondike Bluffs trail. Advanced technical. Ride options of variable lengths. Loop ride is 15 miles (24 km) with 1200 feet of climbing. Season is February through November.

Bar B - One of the Moab “Brand Trails” which are accessed from the Bar M. The west side loop is advanced technical. The east ride is excellent for beginners looking for a ride out and back. Season is February - November.

Bar M Loop - Great views. Easy technical. A good family ride north of Moab. 7 miles (11 km) with 300 feet of climbing. You can also gain access here to the other “Brand Trails” – Circle O, Rockin A, and the Bar B. Season is February - November.

Bartlett Wash - A short climb north of Moab. Some variety on the Entrada sandstone allows easy riding along with more difficult maneuvers. Intermediate technical. Season is February - November.

Behind The Rocks - The site of Moab’s 24-hour race. Advanced technical and extremely challenging. A variety of ride options.

One-way with shuttle. Shorter loops. Or even a 28-mile (45 km) loop that will tax even the daredevil enthusiast. Season is February - November.

Canyonlands Sunrise - Enjoy a glorious sunrise as the sun paints the buttes and rocks gold, red and deep purple. After the fantastic light show, descend the famous Slickrock Bike Trail for a delicious breakfast.

A mostly non-technical descent of approximately 3000 feet. A perfect way for the family to enjoy Moab mountain biking together. Season is February – November.

Courthouse Loop - Great for beginners to test their “skills”. Follows a bluff overlooking the Windows section of Arches National Park. Moderate terrain. Few obstacles. Great intro to Moab mountain biking. Season is February – November.

Courthouse Wash - 6 miles (9.6 km) north of Moab. A 26 mile (42 km) loop or 16.1 mile (26 km) one-way with a shuttle. Moderate difficulty. Moderate technically. But long.

Beautiful desert ride among red-rock cliffs and arches. And the magnificent La Sals in the background. Season is February - November.

Dead Horse Point - Provides three riding options of varying lengths. For riders new to Moab mountain biking up through advanced. The elevation here is 6,000 feet so it’s usually quite a bit cooler than Moab.

In Dead Horse Point State Park so there is an entry fee required. Although open year-round, the riding season is typically March - November.

Fins & Things - Intermediate technical. A variety of terrain. ATV-track with domes and fins of Navajo sandstone similar to the Slickrock Trail. Some sand riding. 10.5 miles (16.8 km) but does include some shorter options. Season is February - November.

Flat Iron Mesa - An easy ride out and back over a dirt road. With a wonderful view over Kane Springs Canyon and Hatch Wash. About 7 miles (11.2 km) with 800 feet of climbing. Season is March - November.

Flat Pass - A long loop. Mostly doubletrack (a wide gravel or dirt surface passable by a vehicle or ATV). Upper intermediate technical. And some serious climbing. Season is March - November.

Gemini Bridges - Ride a gravel road from Highway 191 to the Gemini Bridges. Easy technical but does have some good climbs. Season is February - November.

Gold Bar Rim - Take the Gemini Bridges road for 4.3 miles (7 km). At this point, the ride becomes advanced technical. Moderate climbing. With breathtaking views of Gold Bar Canyon and the Gold Bar Rim. Riding season is February - November.

Golden Spike - An advanced technical trail. And bikers share it with jeeps. Open rock and ledges abound. Lots of climbing. Can only be reached via Gold Bar Rim trail or Poison Spider Mesa Trail. Season is February - November.

Hazard County - This is a trail running downhill only. At the base of the magnificent La Sal Mountains near Warner Campground. Gap jumps and some armored stunts. Quick turns. Season is May - October.

Hidden Canyon - A shorter ride north of Bartlett Wash. Open slickrock areas and views over Hidden Canyon. Intermediate technical. Minimal climb. Season February - November.

Hurrah Pass - Another easy ride that provides long or short options. On a dirt road. First 6 miles (9.6 km) are gravel. Get ready for fantastic views. Great for couples or families. Moderate climbing. And the season is year-round!

Jackson Hole Loop - A merciless 23-mile (37 km) loop. Includes the easy Hurrah Pass route with a technical return through Jackson Hole.

You actually climb cliffs carrying your bike on your back. Then down the advanced technical Amasa Back trail. Get ready for a lot of climbing. Season is February - November.

Killer B - An extreme technical but short downhill off the Bar B loop. To old highway 191. A loop of 8 miles (12.8 km) or take the shortcut back to Moab. Season is March - November.

Klondike Bluffs - Intermediate technical. Doubletrack. Some short singletrack. Enjoy a short hike to a viewpoint overlooking Arches National Park's Klondike Bluffs. A couple short climbs. Season is March - November.

Little Canyon Rim - A long ride. Either a lariat loop or downhill with shuttle. A lot of climbing. And some technical rock riding. Wonderful views. Season is March - November.

Moab Rim - Difficult climb from the Colorado River up to the rim overlooking Moab. Then doubletrack south along the Rim. It’s a tough climb. Advanced technical downhill. Season is March - November.

Monitor and Merrimac Bike Loop - A bicycle-only loop. Half slickrock and one quarter singletrack. 6 miles (9.6 km) with 500 vertical feet of climbing. Good for strong beginners with not a lot of Moab mountain biking experience. Season February - November.

Onion Creek - A ride on a dirt road. Numerous creek crossings. Out and back. Easy technical and moderate climbing. Or a long downhill with a shuttle return. Season is February - November.

Poison Spider - An advanced technical ride. A substantial climb from the Colorado up onto the Navajo sandstone mesa northwest of Moab. Season is February - November.

Portal Trail - Advanced technical. Even dangerous if not careful. Descends along the cliff edges above the Colorado. Reach it from Poison Spider or Gold Bar. Season is March - November.

Porcupine Rim - The premiere downhill ride of Moab mountain biking. Considered a must ride among the Moab mountain biking options. Advanced technical. A modest climb followed by a long technical descent. Season March - November.

Porcupine Singletrack - Joins the Porcupine Trail. Singletrack higher up on the mountain along the cliff edge. A downhill ride or a loop ride using the first 4 miles (6.4 km) of Porcupine Rim. Season is late April - early November.

Pritchett Canyon - A downhill ride to the Colorado via Kane Creek, Behind the Rocks, or Prostitute Butte Trails. Advanced technical. Season March - November.

Prostitute Butte - A sandy doubletrack ride south of Moab. Relatively easy technical. Connects to Behind the Rocks and Pritchett Canyon. Can be ridden year-round if snow allows.

Rockin A - Rolling sandstone provides a lot of up and down riding. A Moab Brand Trail off the Bar M Loop. Upper intermediate technical. Season is late February - November.

Salt Wash Singletrack - Advanced technical. Average climbing. Singletrack along with some technical rock riding. A variety of riding options including a difficult technical descent. Season is late February - November.

Slickrock Trail – The world’s most famous bike trail. One mile east of Moab. Advanced technical. Moderate long climbs and short ruthless ones. Season is late February - November.

Sovereign Singletrack - Advanced or strong intermediate technical through desert, open rock, and ledges. Several options. Loop. Out and back. Point to point. Season is late February - November.

Sovereign Upper Loop (Cedar Mountain) - Rough narrow singletrack loop on Cedar Mountain. By itself or as an add-on to rides using Sovereign and Salt Wash. For strong experienced riders familiar with Moab mountain biking. Season is late February - November.

Tusher Canyon - Upper intermediate technical. Moderate climb. Northwest of Moab. Up Entrada sandstone to a playground overlooking the canyon. Season is March - November.

White Rim Trail - Another so-called classic. A 4-wheel drive road through Canyonlands National Park. It forms a 100-mile (161 km) loop for multi-day rides. Easier technical but lots of climbing. Year-round.

Whole Enchilada - Advanced technical. Downhill ride beginning high in the La Sal Mountains and ending at the Colorado River. Descend 7,000 feet over 27 miles (43.4 km). Season is mid-July – September due to the elevation.

I'm not an expert on Moab mountain biking by any means. Not even close. But I've tried to give you enough information here to plant the seed. And perhaps help you plan a trip in the future.

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