Offering views of snowcapped peaks and sun-burnt canyons on flowing technical singletrack that weaves through otherworldly rock formations, Moab is a mountain biking paradise. The area is an excellent option for nearly year-round riding, with prime weather and trail conditions in the spring and fall. Even in the heat of the summer, riders can retreat […]
Offering views of snowcapped peaks and sun-burnt canyons on flowing technical singletrack that weaves through otherworldly rock formations, Moab is a mountain biking paradise. The area is an excellent option for nearly year-round riding, with prime weather and trail conditions in the spring and fall.
Even in the heat of the summer, riders can retreat to the wooded slopes of the La Sal Mountains for cooler temps at higher elevations and outstanding views of the desert landscape below. While Moab does see snow and ice in the winter, and the summer months can be scorching with periods of heavy rain, if you visit during the shoulder seasons, you may find yourself reluctant to leave.
Located within a six-hour drive of major cities like Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Denver, Moab is a destination for riders of all skill levels. Whether you’re looking for expert-level descents and technical challenges or a more mellow cruise on flowy singletrack, you’re sure to enjoy these 10 top rides as voted on by the MTB Project community.
This loop, located at the Brand/Bar M trail system, is the perfect introduction to classic Moab slickrock riding, as the distance is short and the trails are easy. The rocks and washes that you encounter are mild and provide the perfect opportunity for practicing how to navigate desert terrain. When riding the loop counterclockwise, you will start on the winding turns of the Lazy Trail before progressing to the easy, sweeping singletrack on EZ Trail. Take some time to play around on the optional rock features to get a feel for what the area has to offer. You won’t be shortchanged on the vistas, either. There are several viewpoints along the trail overlooking the distinct red bluffs and mesas of Arches National Park that are particularly memorable on a crisp, blue-sky day. Once you’ve mastered this loop, it is easy to add on additional loops in the Brand/Bar M trail system to extend your ride by 5, 10 or 15 miles.
A beloved beginner’s route, the ride around Dead Horse Point State Park offers views of an ever-changing landscape—including sights of the sheer 2,000-foot drop to the Gooseneck of the Colorado River and the cyan-blue tailings ponds of Shafer Basin. The trails that run along the top of the plateau are ideal for families and those who are new to mountain biking, as there are many flat trails and loop options.
The Dead Horse Point Tour skirts around the edge of Dead Horse Point State Park on mainly smooth singletrack trails. Along the way, there are plenty of optional features to test your mettle and improve your skills, plus fun, flowy singletrack interspersed with stunning views of Moab’s multicolored cliffs and rock formations. Not to be overlooked, the southeastern side of the park is a perfect spot to pause and enjoy a snack or lunch. When you’re done, it’s back to the swooping, sandy trails that all ages and abilities can enjoy.
Whether you’re newer to mountain biking or are an experienced rider wanting to maximize flowy fun and minimize technical challenges on your next ride, the relatively flat terrain of the Klondike Bluff trail system presents some solid variety. The Klondike Bluff Outer Loop is an intermediate option with lots of flow. The well-worn, sandy singletrack can be a bit rough in spots and there are some short, punchy ups and downs, but overall the loop features swooping turns, low traffic and views that rival some of the more popular trails in the area. The Klondike Bluff Beginner Loop provides an abbreviated option if you aren’t up for the full 14-mile outer loop.
Riders will start out on the bumpy slickrock of Mega Steps before connecting via a short section of 4x4 road to Little Salty and UFO. The UFO Trail is one of the highlights of the loop, and features swooping turns through small valleys of balanced rock features and red-dirt singletrack. Next up is the twisting singletrack of the Baby Steps Singletrack Loop 1 and Loop 2 followed by a steady descent on another sandy 4x4 road. The ride ends on the rollicking ups and downs of Dino-Flow, a smooth trail that bobs and winds in and out of small washes and rock ridges, making for an enjoyable end to the ride.
Navajo Rocks is located slightly north of the Magnificent 7 trails, and overall, features some moderately challenging terrain amid constant ups and downs. This intermediate loop offers some steady climbing and rolling descents, interspersed with enough technical terrain to keep experienced riders entertained. The energy-sapping elevation changes don't mean the riding is any less fun, as there are still plenty of opportunities for slickrock shenanigans and techy challenges along the way.
The ride utilizes several different trails, starting on the rolling singletrack of Rocky Tops before hopping on Coney Island, a short connecting trail, and then continuing the climb on Big Lonely. Next up is the Big Mesa Trail, a buttery singletrack with expansive views on its western side. This section descends along the base of the sheer red walls of a 700-foot canyon, making it a highlight of the ride. Take a breather and soak in the panoramic views above 7 Mile Point, noting the red sandstone buttes and the La Sal Mountains in the distance, before descending on Ramblin' into the canyon to return to the trailhead.
No trip to Moab would be complete without a romp around the famous Slickrock Trail located in the Sand Flats Recreation Area. (Note: There is a small entrance fee.) An unconventional route that follows white stripes painted along the surface of large outroppings of slickrock, this area lends itself to some of the most fun you can have on two wheels. The majority of the ride is on and around the trail’s namesake slickrock, a smooth, hard sandstone surface that lets riders choose their own lines along the ledges, fins, humps, ridges and drops of the rolling slickrock terrain park. The tacky surface of the slickrock lets you ride up, down and across inclines you normally might not attempt. While you won't need any special skills to ride the route, you may find yourself surprised by the amount of grip the slickrock provides! Be aware that straying too far from the painted trail line can lead to dangerous drop-offs, and if you are planning to test your mettle, knee guards might be a wise choice in case of a spill on the tacky rock.
This choose-your-own-fun style of riding allows you to pick and choose your line while following the white stripes across the wide slickrock areas. The many route choices combined with the otherworldly geographic features make this world-famous destination a ride that is not to be missed! The full loop is a series of aerobically challenging ups and downs.
Beginners or families might opt to practice on the shorter Practice Loop before committing to the full 10-mile loop. Located 15 minutes from downtown Moab, this ride is only a stone’s throw from nearby campsites, downtown RV camping, local breweries and all other amenities of downtown.
If you’re looking for a different kind of challenge filled with desert vistas reminiscent of the Wild West, the impressive White Rim Trail—a 100-mile loop that traverses Canyonlands National Park high on a plateau between the Green and Colorado rivers—fits the bill. This cross-country trail takes riders on a loop of the Island in the Sky mesa to explore the bluffs, cliffs and expansive desert of the national park.
The White Rim Trail is a long-distance adventure best done in 3 to 5 days with vehicle support, or as a bikepacking outing when the cooler fall temperatures set in. Along the route, you will enjoy outstanding views of Canyonlands National Park, including expansive views that stretch all the way to Dead Horse Point State Park. The route is composed mainly of dirt roads and doubletrack, and the campsites are primitive. Permits are required and can be booked in advance online.
The Sovereign Trail system is one of the lesser-known series of trails in the Moab area, and while it doesn't enjoy the same claim to fame as Slickrock or the Whole Enchilada, it still has plenty of the same technical slickrock and fast singletrack that people flock to Moab to ride. With a mix of flowing singletrack and sandy doubletrack forming this loop, riders will enjoy keeping their speed up on the winding turns and swooping ups and downs. Be forewarned: The trails might feel a bit remote and rough around the edges at times, but depending on the time of year you may not have to battle the crowds of some of the region’s more frequented rides.
This loop starts on the Copper Ridge Jeep Road, a sandy doubletrack with a few slickrock sections. You will be rewarded for enduring the wheel-dragging sandy sections when you turn onto Sovereign. This singletrack has some fast, twisting turns interspersed with sections of slickrock. The ride then detours onto the more challenging terrain of Salt Wash. This difficult trail presents rocky challenges, punchy climbs and steep sections that might require you to hike your bike.
Salt Wash parallels Sovereign with several connectors between the two trails, so riders have the option to stick to the more intermediate terrain of Sovereign—or give the technical challenges of Salt Wash a try! From the main Sovereign Trail, you can also link up to many other trails in the area, making the Sovereign - Salt Wash Combo a jumping-off point for a customizable Moab adventure.
Mag 7 is a challenging 22.2-mile point-to-point ride with equal parts slickrock, rock gardens and sandpacked singletrack; a group of seven trails that harkens back to the rugged days of the West. To make the most of this point-to-point ride, arrange a commercial shuttle to return to downtown Moab after you finish the ride. It is possible to ride along the shoulder of the road to get back to downtown Moab, but keep in mind that your tired legs may appreciate the option of a lift by the end of the day!
As you progress, the ride becomes more challenging, and there is plenty of rolling and ledgy slickrock to entertain you. The final trails—Golden Spike and Portal—offer up some gnarly, technical sections that present a challenge for more experienced riders, with some sections where riders will want to dismount. Don’t let these hike-a-bike sections deter you if your tech skills aren’t quite up to the challenge, as there are plenty of rewarding challenges for experienced riders still honing their skills. Portal, in particular, has some intimidating and dangerous ledges where it is recommended that you enjoy the scenery from your own two feet. Once past these breathtaking cliffs and drop-offs, it’s back to the techy challenge of the large drops, rocky ledges and narrow pinch points that make riding this trail an enjoyable challenge.
Located just 15 minutes from downtown Moab and tucked along the rocky plateaus and sheer bluffs of Kane Creek Canyon, the challenging and technical HyMasa and Captain Ahab trails are a perfect pair, combining pristine singletrack and rocky tech features on the climb, plus plenty of rocks to hop and navigate around on the descent. This 9-mile lollipop loop is highlighted by the stunning backdrop of the peaks of the La Sal Mountains.
Starting the loop on HyMasa’s technical features offers the opportunity to hone your climbing skills on a rocky and tight singletrack. Once you gain the top of the loop, take a minute to enjoy the scenery before starting in on the rock-filled bruiser of Captain Ahab. While the setting is phenomenal with the La Sal Mountains towering in the background and the narrow trail hugging the sheer bluffs of Kane Creek Canyon, you’ll want to maintain your focus on the rowdy descent.
The upper part of the trail is littered with drops and rollouts, a playground for folks who enjoy technical descending, and the lower half is a tight singletrack tucked along the cliffs high above Kane Creek. There’s no question the descent is challenging. But with the adrenaline rush this trail is known to produce, once you reach the bottom, you just find yourself wanting to tackle the loop again.
This advanced and technical ride features nearly 8,000 feet of vertical descent and around 1,200 feet of climbing over the course of the 34-mile ride. The ride starts from Geyser Pass Trailhead, high in the La Sal Mountains, heads through groves of aspen and pine, and finishes in the sandstone canyon of the Colorado River. For this point-to-point ride, you will need to take a commercial shuttle, as the start of the route is located about an hour’s drive from downtown. If you are really looking for a next-level ride, ambitious and fit riders can start from town and bike up Geyser Pass Road to reach the trailhead.
A smorgasbord of changing scenery and terrain are yours to enjoy on this gravity-aided delight of a ride. Starting around 10,500 feet in elevation means that the first part of the ride winds through the woods with some significant ups and downs. The first trail, Burro Pass Trail, starts with a nearly 700-foot ascent to the top of Burro Pass. From there, you’ll have earned your descent on trails like Hazard County, which sweeps through aspen groves and onto stunning plateaus overlooking the canyons and deserts of Moab. Next up are the UPS and LPS trails, where the scenery and trail surface starts to change as you trade the wooded slopes of the La Sal Mountains for the red-rock hillsides and undulating slickrock of these more desertlike singletrack trails. The final descent on Porcupine Rim takes you down a bone-jarring, 2,900-foot descent to end at around 4,000 feet in elevation at the Colorado River.
Be aware that the higher elevations can see snow as early as late September and early October. By November, the high-elevation trails will be covered in snow and ice. Packing plenty of reinforcements, including food, water and weather-appropriate attire, is a must for this lengthy outing. If the weather up high isn’t cooperating with the change of seasons or you are looking for an abbreviated outing, consider shortening this ride to a shuttle of the Porcupine Rim Trail, which provides the best of the lower-elevation trails.
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