Yes, I know: I desecrated mountain bike mecca by breezing in and out of Moab in just two days. Moab has enough mountain bike trails to fill a month of vacation time… and that month would have to be jam-packed with riding seven days a week, sunrise to sunset. Just look at all of the Moab trails and trail systems we have listed here on Singletracks.com–and I know we’re still missing a few!
Still, if you only have two rides to do in Moab, I think I have the plan for you. As I wrote last week, The Whole Enchilada route actually combines some of Moab’s best trails into one gigantic 26-mile shuttle run with 7,000 vertical feet of descending.
Riding the Slickrock Trail
And then there’s the Slickrock Trail. Slickrock is, and this is no exaggeration, the most famous mountain bike trail in the entire world. Best trail in the world? No. But it’s the most famous.
Slickrock is known for its incredibly unique, hard sandstone trail surface that holds onto tires even at stupid-steep uphill grades. It also happens to shred human flesh at the slightest touch. Since the surface is so resilient, a trail didn’t even need to be built: instead, white dashes have been painted onto the rock for riders to follow, forming a lariat-shaped route.
View on the Slickrock Trail.
Part of Slickrock’s claim to fame is due to the trail’s age. The Moab area, and Slickrock in particular, has been a popular mountain bike destination even since the early days of the sport back in the 80s. The lengthy legacy is evidenced by the black strip of rubber that has been left on the rock by the passage of tires over the decades. Yes, I said left on the rock: the rock hasn’t worn away—instead, the merciless stone has slowly collected bits of rubber from each passing machine. This phenomenon is especially evident on the nearby jeep trail.
Since the rock is completely barren and open, the views from the tops of the steep hills are definitely picture-worthy! With views of the Colorado River, Shrimp Rock, the La Sal mountains, and the green town of Moab, you’ll definitely want to bring your camera.
The town of Moab down in the valley below.
When I rode the trail, I was fortunate enough to run into Chad Frisby at the trailhead and talk him into taking me out. While not a Moab local, Chad is the next closest thing, living in northern Utah and having ridden the trails since he was a teen in the 80s. Thanks to Chad’s expertise, I got to experience a side of the Slickrock trail that few people ever see.
Chad Frisby riding with Shrimp Rock in the background.
In spots, the marked trail makes awkward turns and twists through tight gullies that really harsh the flow of the ride. But due to the resilient nature of slickrock, the painted stripes are more like guidelines to keep you from getting lost than an actual trail to follow. Chad showed me several alternate lines that worked in some much better flow, including some fast bombs down vertical rock that left our brakes squealing and our tires a little lighter!
Staying in Moab
Front office for the Lazy Lizard Hostel.
There are any number of campgrounds and chain hotels you could choose in the town of Moab, but for a unique Moab experience, try staying at the Lazy Lizard Hostel. While it wouldn’t be a good place to take the family, this dive isn’t as sleazy as it first seems when you step into the office. In fact, the office is one of the sketchiest-looking parts of the whole complex. But with beds available in the dormitory for $10, private rooms starting at $26, and cabins starting at $31, it’s hard to beat those prices for a clean bed, hot showers, and a place to cook your food.
And of course there’s something to be said for character like this!
Eat and Drink
Moab has a number of unique places to grab a bite to eat and something to drink, but one of the best has to be The Moab Brewery. The first thing that will hit you when you walk through the door are the shrines dedicated to everything Moab: a replica of half of a jeep, several antique bikes, and a couple of brand-new high-end mountain bikes hanging from the wall (which kinda seems like a waste). But enough about the decor–the smell of the food will have already lured you in before you even look inside.
Image from themoabbrewery.com.
With a wide assortment of craft beers with names like Scorpion Pale Ale and Derailleur Red Ale, it’s hard to go wrong. Whatever you do, just don’t order a crappy domestic beer… you’ll get called out with a toll from the bell at the bar and a shout of “domestic alert.” You can’t order a Miller Light when you visit a brewery, just sayin’.
Even if you’re not into the frothy goodness of a cold beer, the Moab Brewery should be at the top of your list for the food alone. With delicious burgers at reasonable prices as well as more expensive entrees cooked to perfection, the Moab Brewery will both satisfy your hunger and quench your thirst in style!
So start planning your trip to the mother of all bike trails (MOAB). And whatever you do, make sure you don’t desecrate mountain bike mecca with a quick trip!