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Not all Moab Rides required legs of steel to ascend steep grades (photo: Ben Robator)

Not all Moab Rides required legs of steel to ascend steep grades (photo: Ben Robator)

Not only is Moab the first name most cyclists think of when asked about a “mountain bike destination,” it’s also one of the first places that comes to mind for a broad variety and quantity of gnarly trails.   This reputation was earned in the early days of mountain biking as intrepid cyclists would explore the as yet largely undeveloped desert, following the tracks of various motorized users and, occasionally blazing entirely new routes.  These early Moab riders were hard-core, willing to face vast, forbidding, waterless, exposed landscapes without the aid of artificial power.  As such the trails they blazed were generally also not for the faint of heart–or those lacking in cycling and route finding skills.

Even the area’s main draw, the famed Slickrock Trail, proved to be too much for the average rider.  As Moab’s name grew, riders would make the pilgrimage from points far and wide to ride what was supposed to be the quintessential mountain bike trail, Moab’s famed Slickrock.  All too often, Joe Weekend Warrior would wander out onto the steep, grippy rocks only to find himself in over his head quickly and return with bike, body, or spirit battered and ego bruised.  If he was foolish enough to take a non-riding spouse or his little tyke out there with him, the difficulties only multiply.  Sure, there’s nothing actually mortality-inducing on the Slickrock Trail, but it is a bit much for the new or unprepared rider.

Add in a few other super gnarly routes like Amasa Back, the Moab Rim, and the genuinely deadly Portal Trail, and Moab’s reputation as a destination for none but the skilled and/or sketchy set became entrenched.  Fruita came along touting its flowy smooth singletrack at 18 Road and the uber-friendly but gorgeous and entertaining Rustler’s Loop, and less intense riders found they could have a great time without white knuckles, and usually do it with an hour and a half less drive time from points east.

Times have changed.  Moab still has the lingering reputation as an experts-only destination, but they have fully put into place the trails, both quantity and quality, to begin luring more casual riders while advancing their reputation as a destination for literally every possible level of rider.  At first, it was just a trail or two, meaning a destination visitor would play out his options in just a day, maybe two.  But now, Moab has no less than a half dozen outstanding novice/lower-intermediate rides to keep any new or casual rider entertained for as much as a full week.  What’s more, these routes usually have adjacent trails with a slightly greater degree of challenge available.  If you’ve ever thought about taking a bike vacation, but thought it may not be worth it because you don’t have the skills or fitness to get the most out of it, Moab has the goods to change your mind.  Here’s the best of the desert just for you.

Click below to read about the best Moab trails for beginners!

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