Moab can be a bit intimidating… not just from the sheer technical nature of the trails found in the area, but also from the number of trail options you’ll encounter when visiting the desert playground. In the first installment of our new blog series “Top Three Rides”, we’ll try to make it easier on you when deciding what to ride on a visit to one of the Meccas of mountain biking.
Take a look at the MTB Project map below- it’s incredible to see the number of trail options for mountain bikers in Moab. Seriously, where do you even start?
If you’re like most of our Chasing Epic riders, you like a combination of fun, challenging, scenic, and epic… and we’ll take you there. With our Moab trips, you can expect to ride two or three of these top rides during your 4-day adventure tour. If the conditions allow, we’ll hit all three and then add another classic for good measure!
Amasa Back, Hymasa, and Captain Ahab
The Amasa Back trail system has become one of legend with the recent additions of Hymasa and Captain Ahab, making it a must-do for any real mountain biker that visits Moab. When it was just Amasa Back, Rockstacker, Pothole Arch and Jackson’s, it was still a must-ride… but now it’s one of the most incredible 10-15 mile rides in the country. Most riders take the gradual singletrack climb of the Hymasa Trail up to the main junction with Upper Ahab. From there, you can choose to keep climbing to the top of Amasa Back (which we recommend), or make it a shorter ride by turning left and making your way back down on Ahab. Don’t be fooled though, there’s still plenty of climbing if you take this route!
Our recommendation is to climb Hymasa, but only to the mid-point of Ahab; the lower section is the most fun two miles you’ll ride on a mountain bike. From there, head back up Hymasa and continue on to the turn-off to Pothole Arch, a 2-mile flowy singletrack that’s worth the added effort. Once you get to the viewpoint, you can pick your way back down by coming back on Amasa, Hymasa, or down the backside on Jackson’s. They’re all epic!
The Whole Enchilada
Yes, it’s as good as its reputation. The Whole Enchilada sits firmly at the top of everyone’s bucket list rides, and for good reason. Most mortals take a shuttle from town to the Burro Pass dropoff, and from there the ride encompasses 34 miles with only 1400 feet of climbing, but almost 8000 of descending! On this ride, you’ll get it all- high altitude mountain riding on the Burro Pass section, smooth, flowy singletrack on Hazzard County, and then the rocky, technical goodness of UPS, LPS, and Porcupine Rim.
There’s really only one way to ride this, and it starts with a stiff climb to the top of Burro Pass. Don’t worry- even though it’s tough and you’ll likely walk your bike a bit, the views are breathtaking and the rewards are well worth the suffering. Take your time to session the technical bits of UPS (like the Notch!), LPS, and Porcupine Rim, and be sure to savor the amazing terrain you’re riding- you won’t see anything else like this in the world. Seriously.
A bit of a darkhorse when it comes to popular Moab rides, Navajo Rocks is one of the faves among our Trip Leaders thanks to the diversity of terrain and the barren landscape the trail traverses. The trail system sits north of town on the way to Canyonlands National Park, and has a similar feel in trail and views. The trails total almost 18 miles, which means a solid day of riding for anyone looking to get away from the main trail systems that everyone reads about.
The trails are shaped like a clover leaf, which means there are several options for putting together a ride. Our favorite direction is clearly counter-clockwise (despite the recommendation of MTB Project), which allows you to enjoy the one main extended descent on Coney Island. Otherwise, there’s never much of an extended climb or descent on the rest of the ride, which is kind of nice. The terrain is a mix of packed sand singletrack and super-fun slickrock… so much fun, that we’d recommend the slickrock of Navajo Rocks over the actual Slickrock Trail!