Right now is the perfect time to turn your handlebars toward southern Utah and pedal with all your might to one of the country’s mountain biking hotspots: Moab. With spring temperatures a comfortable mid-60s, you’ll be able to traverse this mountain biking mecca without experiencing the sun’s scorching rays or the rapid dehydration that comes later in summer.
Moab’s trail system has undergone extensive upgrades and expansions in recent years (and they're still growing!) so even if you have previously explored this hotspot, there are plenty of new paths to trace.
Slickrock: The Best in the Country
Rated: Advanced Length: 10.5 miles
Receiving about 100,000 visitors a year, Slickrock is often referred to as the best bike ride in America because it's different than anything you've ever experienced. Instead of the dusty dirt road, you'll be riding on incredibly smooth slickrock, which despite it's name, isn't slick at all. It's sandpaper-like texture grips tires so well you can make it up almost any impossibly steep-looking inclines with enough nerve and muscle.
Although the trail was created in the '60s with motorcycle enthusiasts in mind, it is now frequented more often by mountain bikers. Before you set off on this anaerobically demanding and technical route, be sure to try the two-mile practice loop. It’s not much easier than the real thing, and gives you more time on a rare stretch of Navajo sandstone while testing your skills close to the trailhead. We call that a win-win.
Captain Ahab: The Best for Thrill-seekers
Rated: Advanced Length: 4.3 miles
Captain Ahab is one of the newest trails in Moab and one that's sure to capture the adoration of adrenaline junkies. After a quick climb up grippy rock, the rest is a downhill thrill of rock-benched single track, spectacular cliff views, technical drops, and exquisite route-finding. Keeping your eyes fixated ahead, but if you can steal a quick glance at your surroundings, you'll notice the La Sal mountains rising up from the desert floor, their snowy peaks a lovely contrast to the otherwise dry environment.
The environmental risks of creating a new trail were a genuine concern for the collaborators responsible for the architects of Captain Ahab, but their thoughtfulness resulted in a trail that perserves archaeological hotspots and areas of sensitive wildlife for all to enjoy.
Dead Horse Point Tour: The Best for Beginners
Rated: Easy/Intermediate Length: 14 miles
This latest expansion in family-friendly trails is not only the perfect place for beginners to get their cycling legs, it also gives riders access to one of the most photographed vistas in the world. Dead Horse Point combines sections from a variety of trails that traverse a 2,000 foot tall mesa-top. The route stays well away from cliff faces, but there are several opportunities to take breaks with short hikes to overlooks. Below you’ll see the Colorado River snaking around rugged cliffs and unparalleled views of Moab and the La Sal Mountains. The trek is fairly long but not particularly demanding so if your clan is adventurous, the whole family can give it a try together.
Bartlett Wash: The Best for Free Spirits
Rated: The decision is all yours Length: The decision is all yours
Your ride on a 4x4 trail up a sandy wash may not feel like anything special, but don’t be fooled. What you’ll find a short way down is something few mountain biking paths offer: a free ride area. That’s right, mountain biking, enthusiasts. Make your way up a steep sandstone wall and you'll find an area on top with no trail, no restrictions, and miles of undulating entrada sandstone for you to explore. Create your own route flying through chutes, soaring up and down half-pipes and speeding up walls. Drops range from a couple inches to almost 20 feet, so gauge your skills, decide how risky you're feeling and take the leap.
When you’re done playing, head over to a steep, narrow opening dubbed the "toilet bowl," and you’ll be flushed right
out of the sandstone playground back into the sandy desert.
The Whole Enchilada: The Best of Everything
Rated: Advanced Length: 33 miles
The Whole Enchilada combines all the best of Moab’s mountain and desert scenery into one trail so interesting and all-inclusive it'll almost make you forget the 33 bone-jarring miles it takes to complete it. The trip starts in the La Sal mountains at 10,400 feet where you'll be tested almost immediately with sharp downhill switchbacks and deep stream crossings. From pine trees and golden aspens to sagebrush, scrub oak and junipers, you’ll wind your way down the steep slopes into the red rock desert. You'll encounter smooth singletrack and slickrock sections along with rock gardens and technical drops so gnarly you may find yourself sliding off your seat and walking down portions of the trail. Oh, and did we mention the incredible views? They'll be there too.