Moab, Utah – A Must for Bikers and Hikers

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Moab’s landscape speaks to me in a way that’s rare on this planet. It’s not the so-so town with its main street ruined with cheap hotels and billboards I’m talking about, but the feeling you get when you’re out amongst some of the loveliest rock and desert scenery on earth. Edward Abbey captures his time in the area brilliantly in the book Desert Solitaire, a must read for anyone contemplating a trip to the area.

'Moab, Utah'

The White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park

In the days that I lived in Boulder our family would make regular jaunts to Moab and either hike or mountain bike. I wish we were still six instead of 26 hours away.

'Arches National Park'

One of over 1000 arches in Arches National Park

Moab offers up some of the world’s best mountain biking…for all levels plus incredible hiking in Arches and Canyonlands National Park. Canoeing the Green River through Butch Cassidy country is a memorable way to spend a week too – just don’t do it in August when the temperatures soar to 100F by 11am.

Mountain Bike Ride Suggestions

  • Moab is justifiably famous for its Slickrock Trail – see the above image. You can try out a practice loop before committing to the whole 9.7 miles. This trail can be done in 1.5 hours by the pros but if you have to hike the steep sections (like me) then allow up to 5 hours. Yes that’s 5 hours for 9.7 miles. Incredible sandstone grips bike tires like a pit bull holds a bone. (nicely put by author David Crowell)
  • Klondike Kliffs is a 14.4 mile ride which offers a bit of everything – easy slickrock, big views and dinosaur tracks. It’s a good ride for a beginner. The end is at the boundary with Arches National Park so take a picnic and enjoy the views before returning.
  • Gemini Bridges is a perennial favourite and not too difficult. It’s best done with a car shuttle (bike shops can help) so you can enjoy the descent of close to 14 miles instead of contemplating how tough the return will be. There’s a lot to explore and if you decide to ride the bridges don’t fall off – because it’s likely to be fatal.

  • The White Rim Trail is a 103 mile loop and perfect for a group with a support vehicle to ride over 3 to 5 days though permits are required. Another option is to sign up with a tour company. A steep descent into the canyon on Day one necessitates a steep ascent out on your last day. The in between riding is moderately aerobic. Scenery is superb and hiking opportunities abound. Desert campsites with star filled night skies are an added bonus.
'White Rim Trail'
The descent or ascent that’s required to enter the canyon on the White Rim Trail

There are a minimum of 38 mountain biking trails to discover in the Moab area – and that doesn’t even include The Maze, a section of Canyonlands National Park, that needs at least a week to explore. I love the names of mountain bike trails – Bachelors Bash, A Nice Butte, Poison Spider Mesa, Monitor and Merrimac, Hurrah Pass. If you’re new to mountain biking or just want someone to handle the details of getting you to the best trails based on your ability then you can’t go wrong with Rim Tours, a fixture in the Moab area for years.

Hiking

Arches National Park deserves a full day at a minimum to explore all the trails. It’s a great place to take a family as kids love this kind of hiking.

Canyonlands national Park deserves even more time. Head to the Visitors Center, grab a map and start exploring.

Camping is first rate in these parks especially in late October and November when there are very few people but the days are still warm though the nights are cold. If you’re not a camper then try the Sunflower Hill Bed & Breakfast – one of my all time favourite places to stay with one of the best breakfasts around.

Whether you’re young or old, a biker, hiker or simply a lover of the outdoors, I encourage you to visit Moab and the surrounding area.

Leigh McAdam

HikeBikeTravel

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