The New Face of Moab: Hymasa, Captain Ahab, and More

When my wife and I relocated to Salida, Colorado in September, it wasn’t lost on me that Moab, Utah was located a mere 5-hour drive away. It also wasn’t lost on my that the mountain biking in Moab is pristine when most other parts of the nation are still blanketed in deep snow. In fact, a winter/spring Moab trip has been on my wishlist for years, and now that I live so close, it’s time to make it happen!

However, try as I might to plan a trip, something always came up, thwarting my daydreams of dry desert slickrock and warm sun on my skin. But as the month of April drew to a close, I put my foot down: I was going to Moab before the end of the month, come hell or high water!

As it turns out, hell didn’t come, but high water did… at least, for Moab. A big storm system swept through the area on the Saturday we planned to go, raining most of the day and through the night. While we adjusted our plans to put us arriving in Moab on Saturday instead of Friday, this rather-unusual rainstorm–at least, for the desert–allowed me to capture this awesome image of a cloudy sunset over Moab:

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And, while it rained hard through the night, our brand-new Sylvansport GO kept us warm and dry:

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I awoke early Sunday morning to clear skies and cool temps, and the dry Moab sand had already soaked up the rain from the previous night. Trail conditions promised to be prime! Since I was planning to work and ride in the evenings the next few days, I decided to spend Sunday riding the trails I really wanted to investigate: Hymasa, Captain Ahab, and the other trails in the Amasa Back Area Trail System.

The Hymasa trail had just opened in March and was not yet in the database, so I was stoked to investigate and catalogue this new trail!

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After kitting up in the shade of the massive Moab cliffs, I began my climb up the new Hymasa trail. While one segment where Amasa Back crosses a creek is still the classic 4×4 route, the singletrack quickly heads away from the motorized route, climbing up the hillside at a moderate grade. It winds back and forth, crossing the 4×4 route at regular intervals. Unlike the steep, ledgy Amasa Back trail, Hymasa is all very rideable as a climb. There are plenty of techy sections to keep you on your toes, and a few steep grunts up slickrock, but everything is still very rideable, even for mere mortals. However, thanks to the techy bits, interesting trail design, and world-class Moab views, this 4-mile climb will be gone before you know it!

Climbing Hymasa
Climbing Hymasa
Climbing Hymasa
Climbing Hymasa
View near the top of Hymasa/Captain Ahab
View near the top of Hymasa/Captain Ahab

This was the first time I had the privilege of visiting the desert in the spring, and I quickly realized that it was entirely different than riding here in the summer or the fall! Everywhere I looked, green plants were sprouting up, and all of the cacti were in bloom, adding lush color to the normally arid landscape.

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As I extended onto Captain Ahab, the incredible views continued. I’m glad we don’t have to shoot with film anymore, because I would have dropped a ton of money on this ride!

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Captain Ahab is an absolute masterpiece of a descent! I say descent, as that’s mostly what it is, but there are a couple of short, pedally climbs mixed in. This new-school Moab trail is an absolute riot of twisty turns, exposure, technical moves, and air opportunities. But the beauty of this trail is that, for the most part, you can make it as difficult or as easy as you want.

Don’t want to take air? That’s ok, all of the drops are rollable or set off of the main line. But if you do want to get air, there are plenty of rollers to launch, optional ledges, and air opportunities of all kinds and sizes! Just make sure  you don’t try taking air near the sign that says “walk your bike,” or you could find yourself flying off into a beautiful abyss.

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Simply put, the new Hymasa/Captain Ahab loop might just be the best loop-style ride I’ve ever done! Combine the fabulous, completely-rideable, absolutely-gorgeous climb with the raucous, entertaining, highly-versatile descent, and I had a very difficult time keeping myself from looping it again and again and again!

Amazing rock work on the Captain Ahab trail
Amazing rock work on the Captain Ahab trail

However, I did climb back up the mountain to check out some additional singletrack. At first I began climbing the classic Amasa Back 4×4 route just to see what it was like, but I quickly realized how ledgy it was and not at all fun as a mountain bike climb so I reverted back to the fantastic Hymasa ascent.

View from the Rock Stacker trail
View from the Rock Stacker trail

At the top, I explored some more of the trails in the area, including the highly-technical Rock Stacker and the short-but-sweet ride out to Pothole Arch. Finally, on the way back down I made a difficult decision to bypass Captain Ahab in favor of experiencing the Amasa Back descent.

Slickrock on the way to Pothole Arch
Slickrock on the way to Pothole Arch

While of course it couldn’t hold up to Captain Ahab’s majesty, this was a very different descent: wide 4×4 road, big ledges, nasty technical spots, but plenty of line options for more or less difficult obstacles, ala Porcupine Rim.

While historically Amasa Back was a single 4×4 route that dead ended near the top of the rim, all of the recent trail developments here have transformed it into a true mountain biking trail system, with non-motorized singletrack that, I argue, can compete with the best anywhere in the nation!

For more fresh dirt from Moab, and ride reports and destination features all summer long, be sure to follow Singletracks on Facebook!

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