Just speaking that name is enough to bring chills to mountain bikers all over the world. One of the most renowned mountain bike destinations of all time–Moab–is located here… and it’s well-represented on this list. But there are a plethora of other destinations, ranging in popularity: Park City, Saint George/Hurricane, Vernal, Salt Lake City… and even more lesser-known locales.
With topography ranging from lush, high alpine mountains to low, dry desert, Utah might just be one of the most diverse states in the nation–although California and Colorado could put in bids as well. Still, that diversity means that within a few hours of driving you can partake in wildly-different mountain biking experiences, all within the same state.
Thanks to all of these great destinations and this fantastic diversity, a top 5 list can hardly do Utah justice. But if you’re looking for some great trails to get you started, none of these user-generated picks will steer you wrong.
The Whole Enchilada is the crown jewel of Moab mountain biking and, some would argue, the crown jewel of mountain bike trails, period. In fact, I chose it as one of my favorite trails of all time. This 27-mile route drops over 7,000 vertical feet and passes through almost every climate zone imaginable. Topping out above treeline, the trail descends through a high-alpine pine forest, into a massive aspen grove, down into scrub oaks and scrub brush, into a high-desert environment along UPS/LPS, into a low-desert environment completely devoid of vegetation, and ends at the Colorado River in the bottom of the canyon. There may not be a more varied half-day mountain bike route the entire world over!
“I rode the Whole Enchilada again this summer, during my trip which included the 401 in CB, Hartman Rocks, Albuquerque, and Fruita….Whole Enchilada is still the best trail you will ever ride, period. But it’s only for riders who want a serious technical adventure! Beginners or those not real experienced should stick to the upper parts, before UPS! I would drive all the way to Moab to just ride WE, it totally kills! I did walk to the Burro pass though, it’s a pretty serious climb on my Freeride bike, and I gave up after last year, but all the other guys around did ride it! Get your shuttle ride to the top from Uranium Bike Shop in Moab, they are great people! Then you land at the Colorado River and ride back to town. I am a crappy climber and I got from the top of Burro to the river in about 3 hours, plus a few minutes for pictures, breaks etc.” -JackPompanoBeach
Gooseberry Mesa is a long-standing iconic mountain bike route, and for good reason: the epic views of Zion National Park coupled with entertaining slickrock riding mixed with sweet singletrack is a combination that not only a mother could love, but every mother.
“The Hurricane/St George area is my favorite riding area in the SW United States and Gooseberry Mesa is the ‘crown jewel’ of the area according to most. This trail is like no other I’ve ridden anywhere and it goes up, down, all around and thru the rock mesa. The twisty loop we do is 18 miles but you’ll feel like you’ve done 30. You’ll be amazed at what both you AND your bike are capaple of after a day at Gooseberry.” -k2rider
While the Whole Enchilada and some of the trails in the Amasa Back area are the future of Moab mountain biking, Slickrock is the historic Moab MTB bastion. In fact, due to its utterly-unique terrain (aside from crossing a couple of sandy washes, you’re pedaling on bedrock the entire time) and lengthy history (since the dawn of mountain biking), this is probably the most famous trail in the entire world. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best ride in the world, but it’s definitely worth doing.
“LOVED Slickrock! It is so much different than anything else I will ever ride! The climbs up the rock were insanely steep and very demanding, while the downhills were (at times) as steep as 30 degrees! A must do when in Moab.” -Phillychris498
The Amasa Back 4×4 route is one of the historic mountain bike rides that put Moab on the map. And while the 4×4 road is still a fun descent, the real story is the bevy of new mountain bike-specific trail additions in this area. In fact, I’ve proclaimed that the Hymasa/Captain Ahab loop my favorite loop-style mountain bike ride to date. For more info, be sure to read my article from last year.
“Hymasa up, Captain Ahab down: A perfect way to spend part of a day. Hymasa is one of the most beautiful trails I have ever riden, and Ahab is the gnarliest trail by far that I have ever ridden; absolutely insane. By far the best trail area in Moab, 5 stars!” -Guest
Located right out of Ogden and just north of Salt Lake City, this is a popular ride for all SLC-area mountain bikers. Thanks to spinning chairlifts and gnarly downhill runs, as well as cross country singletrack running all the way down to town, Snowbasin provides all mountain bikers with epic ride options.
“We ride the trail system at Snow Basin a lot and still haven’t ridden all of the combinations. Lots of variety. You can tailor your ride to whatever you’re in the mood for or have time for.” -BryanPB
Your Turn: Have you ridden in Utah? What’s your favorite Utah trail?