Editor’s note: It’s nearly impossible to ride all the Moab area mountain bike trails in a single trip and fortunately Maddslacker has made enough trips over the years to recommend the best of the best. This article should get you seriously pumped to go to Moab so also be sure to check out Maddslacker’s “Affordable Moab” article to help you plan your trip.
5. Gemini Bridges/Gold Bar Rim/Golden Spike/Portal
I know this is four trails but they connect into one awesome ride. Leave a drop vehicle at the end of Portal, drive to the parking lot at the beginning of Gemini Bridges Rd and start riding up the dirt road switchbacks. The climb is not bad at all. When you get to the top of the cliff, look back. Yeah, you just rode a bike up that! Across the flats is a left turn onto Gold Bar Rim, which is a jeep trail with lots of slickrock, ledges, and boulders. Hang out at the rim for a bit and then head south along the ridge until you hook up with Golden Spike. This fairly short section connects up with the infamous Portal Trail. Ride some of it, walk most of it, but either way, be careful and you’ll get down just fine.
4. Amasa Back
I haven’t actually ridden this trail yet – it seems like something always comes up when it’s on the schedule. Talking to people who have, I know that it is fairly short, really close to town, and has plenty of rocks to play on. A popular option is to do it in the afternoon after finishing Slickrock or Klondike Bluffs. There are a lot of jeepers on this trail so be nice to them – they have air compressors and extra water.
Many people write off this intermediate trail as not being worth riding. They don’t know what they are missing! First of all, don’t park by the highway – drive in another 5 miles and park at the large parking lot by the gate. Not riding that stretch of boring dirt road definitely helps. The trail starts out with some of Moab’s signature tire-sucking sand. This quickly gives way to some doubletrack that alternates between hardpack and exposed ledges. The longest portion of the trail climbs up an angled slab of slickrock. Along this section you’ll find dinosaur tracks and interesting rock formations to check out so definitely explore a little if you have time.
After the slickrock there’s more doubletrack that passes some historic mining ruins, terminating at the boundary of Arches National Park. There is a bike rack here so park your bike and do the 1/2 mile hike into the actual bluffs. Think scenery from old Wile E Coyote cartoons and you’ll know what to expect. When you’re done sightseeing, you can either head down Baby Steps or back the way you came; either direction ends up where you parked.
Mountain bikers come from far and wide to bag this Mecca of mountain bike trails. The scenery is amazing, the traction is so good that you can ride up and down impossible inclines, and it is all arranged in a convenient 10-mile loop. There’s even a 2.5 mile ‘practice loop’ to give riders a feel for what the rest of the trail has in store. This trail is definitely a must-ride, but I can’t give it the top spot because after riding the trail a half dozen times it starts to lose its mystique.
Porcupine is the other trail that every trip to Moab must include. Whether ridden as the classic version starting in Sand Flats or including the UPS section, this trail has it all: fast singletrack, huge ledge drops, precipice-hugging sections, amazing scenery, and best of all, very little climbing! XC types and freeriders both will find stuff to love, and it’s well suited for group rides with plenty of photo ops all along the way. Don’t forget to catch some big air off that last berm and smile for the dude in the lawn chair: he’s taking your pic, a copy of which can be purchased in town later in the evening.
Which Moab trails are in your top five?