The Must-Do 3 Days of Mountain Biking in Moab, UT

Day 3

Morning Ride Intermediate

Klondike Bluffs: It’s day 3 and you’re excited, but your body is telling you to throttle back. The Klondike trail system is the perfect place to do that. Similar to the Moab Brand Trails, but with more elevation and advanced riding, this system is built with miles and miles of loops that allow you to customize your route. I personally recommend a 15-mile route with about 1,100 feet of climbing: Alaska to EKG to Megasteps to Dino. The scenery is amazing, and there is nothing an intermediate rider cannot handle here.

The climbs at Klondike are sustainable and reasonable, and the downhills sections are fast and flowy. Perfection.
The climbs at Klondike are sustainable and reasonable, and the downhills sections are fast and flowy. Perfection.

Morning Ride: Advanced

Magnificent 7: You thought that the Whole Enchilada was tough? Magnificent 7 will do it’s best to chew you up and spit you off the side of the cliff. This trail also requires a shuttle. “Mag 7” is actually seven trails linked together by sections of road to create a 23ish-mile monster: Bull Run, a section of Gemini Road, Arth’s Corner, Little Canyon, Gold Bar to upper Gold Bar Rim, Golden Spike, the north end of Poison Spider, Blue Dot (now legal), and the infamously-deadly Portal Trail. This trail has it all: rolling singletrack, short, punchy climbs, insane technical features, exposure, and ripping hold-on-to-the-seat-of-your-pants downhill.

Mag 7 is full of exposure and intimidating features
Mag 7 is full of exposure and intimidating features

Evening Ride: Intermediate/Advanced

Bartlett Wash: This technical play area is just outside of town and is the perfect place to just get on your bike and find the line that feels good to you. Without any true trail to follow, there are plenty of rocky washes to roll over and down and find lines that match your flow. This is a great place to come and ride if you just have a the desire to experience the traction of slickrock but don’t want an epic multi-hour ride.

Bartlett Wash is the ultimate apres-ride slickrock playground full of steep rollers, big drops, and smooth lines. Photo: Trailbuilder1
Bartlett Wash is the ultimate apres-ride slickrock playground, full of steep rollers, big drops, and smooth lines. Photo: Trailbuilder1

Where to Stay

Camping is often the preferred option for travelers on the cheap, and Moab has abundant sites. Dispersed camping on BLM land is free (but fills up fast), and there are pay sites such as the Slickrock/Sand Flats Recreation Area. These facilities have no showers/toilets, but Moab has quite a few places that offer pay showers for riders, such as the Poison Spider Bike Shop or Lazy Lizard Hostel. Speaking of which, the Lazy Lizard has the cheapest lodging in town, and is a staple for Moab travelers, though it is no secret that you get what you pay for. Moab is a very popular place, and is represented by most major hotel brands, but expect to pay close to $200/night in the busy seasons for a room that sleeps four. Another option is a relatively recent explosion of online home rentals from sites like VRBO.com–a perfect option for larger groups looking for private digs.

No matter what bike you bring to Moab, make sure it is in good working order. These trails are rough
No matter what bike you bring to Moab, make sure it is in good working order. These trails are rough

Where to Eat

Despite its small size, Moab is full of eateries, cafes, breweries, and restaurants. Local “touristy” favorites include the Moab Brewery and Eddie McStiffs, which not only serve great microbrews, but also have a great menu for lunch and dinner. If Mickey Ds isn’t your thing, the JailHouse Cafe is a kitschy place to have a pre-ride omelette.

Bike Shops

Obviously, mountain biking is one of Moab’s principal attractions, but it still surprises me that a town with a permanent population of around 5,000 has so many bike shops with high-end rides and gear, each with their own special flare. Chili Pepper Bike Shop, for example, has the best espresso in town IMHO, and the mechanics always treat me like I am a frequent, regular customer (maybe I am?). Poison Spider Bicycles has fast, friendly mechanics, but also a huge demo fleet of bikes that they sell for a discount at the end of the season.  My experience with Moab Cyclery has also been favorable, and they are known for extended trips/shuttles.  Rim Cyclery is Moab’s oldest bike shop… and it seems like they have a lot of everything in their shop! Bottom line is: you cannot go wrong if you need parts, service, a rental, or a new bike while in Moab. All of these shops have shuttles that depart for the signature rides daily during peak seasons.

Shuttle Services

It’s worth mentioning that many rides in Moab require shuttles because of the time, elevation, and distance that they cover. There are several in Moab such as Coyote Shuttle and Porcupine Shuttle  (which I’ve used and they are great), but I’ll be honest that I now use and endorse the Whole Enchilada Shuttle, co-owned/operated by local shredder Kyle Mears (yes, the same Kyle Mears that rides with Nate Hills in the Follow Cam Friday videos like this one). He has a lot of cool stories, and I’ll leave it at that.

Shuttles AND climbing are required to get to places like Burro Pass near 11,000 feet, but the downhill and scenery is totally worth it
Shuttles AND climbing are required to get to places like Burro Pass near 11,000 feet, but the downhill and scenery is totally worth it

What to Bring

Moab eats bikes. That’s a common saying for anyone who has spent any significant time riding there. The trails can be punishing to both gear and self, so riding prepared can save you a lot of trouble if something goes wrong. Moab is a big place with limited cellular service. You already know the essentials to take on every ride, but here are some friendly suggestions.

  • Take lots of water: whatever you think you need, take extra, especially in summer.
  • Bring lots of food: some trails seem like they are mostly downhill, but every ride in Moab requires pedalling, and rides will often take you hours longer than you think they will, especially when bike issues occur (and they will).
  • Start your adventure with a tuned bike: fresh tires and sealant, and new(er) brake pads are a must if you plan on riding hard in Moab for 3 days. Make sure your bike is tuned, shifting and braking properly, and there are no mechanical issues that need attending before you venture out.
  • Make sure you work on your fitness as much as possible before you ride Moab: the lowest elevation is around 4000ft, with some rides topping out over 11,000ft of elevation!
  • I also recommend a map, sunscreen, appropriate body armor, spare parts, mobile phone, and electrolyte tablets.

Final Thoughts

Moab may seem daunting to newer riders, but rest assured there are trails for every ability, from first-timers to professionals–which is what makes this place so great. The goal is to have fun, and if you get too tired or become injured, there are plenty of other activities to try in lieu of trail riding. If you have the fitness, means, and desire, you can plan a 3-day trip to Moab that will set the standard for every future biking trip until the day you stop riding.

Go for it!

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