New trails renew excitement for mountain biking in Moab
Biking • Single-track trails and location make cycling easier for beginners and experts.
Published: May 4, 2012 04:40PM
Updated: August 28, 2012 11:31PM
image
Rider on "Bull Run." Credit: Bruce Argyle.

Moab • Slickrock Bike Trail? Done it!

Amasa Back? Got the lines on those ledges down.

Gemini Bridges? No way, unless you like sand in your mouth and Jeep exhaust in your lungs.

That’s been the thinking among avid mountain bikers for several years as Moab, long known as a fat-tire magnet, lost much of its unique appeal.

But that has changed recently, with the addition of several new trails with beginners and experts in mind.

“Moab had become irrelevant,” said Bryan Nickell, owner of Porcupine Shuttle, a service that transports riders to Moab trails. “We’d become the ‘been there, done that’ place. It needed some changes.”

For many years, there were few new options for mountain bikers. The stagnation was even more evident because of the flurry of new trails being built in places like Fruita, Colo., Arizona and New Mexico. Those places were luring bikers away, leaving Moab to the Jeep enthusiasts and foreign tourists. That wasn’t good for Moab’s reputation or for local businesses.

As word spreads about the new trails, those who make their living catering to the spandex-wearing enthusiasts are experiencing an increase in business.

“Moab matters again,” Nickell said.

Tessa Groff, whose family owns the Rim Cyclery bike shop in Moab, has seen it, too.

“A lot have been coming back to Moab,” she said. “We had nothing new to offer, so a lot of riders would come here and then maybe go to Fruita and ride so their lengths of stay here were shortened, but now people are re-energized about Moab.”

Spearheading the work has been the Moab Trails Alliance, a group that was formed in 2003 by concerned businesses and citizens who saw the need for a better trail system catering to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders.

The group has worked with Grand County, the Bureau of Land Management and others to open several new mountain-biking options.

While the trails present different kinds of challenges, they have one thing in common — they were built with bikers in mind.

Unlike the older trails that were laid out by offroad vehicles — resulting in double track trails —many of the new paths are singletrack.

“It’s what is so popular everywhere else nationally,” Groff said.

The trails accommodate bikers with inviting flowing lines through the desert terrain, technical tests over slickrock and just enough climbing to get the heart rate up before rewarding riders with fast descents.

Trails such as the Dino Flow at Klondike Bluffs, the Lazy EZ at the Moab Brand Trails and others can give newbies a taste of Moab riding. Several trails can be handled by beginners or tourists who want to experience Moab’s famed slickrock without leaving half their skin behind.

Ashley Korenblat, president of Western Spirit Cycling, said that kind of trail development is what makes the new trails so important.

“Dedicated singletrack is critical to the success of a balanced recreation economy,” she said. “The alternative is to allow motorized use to displace nonmotorized use. Shared use is great until it seriously degrades the experience of one group over another. Singletrack trails help solve this problem.”

The trails also are appealing because they are clumped together in areas such as the Mag 7 by Gemini Bridges, the Klondike Bluff system and the Moab Brand Trails.

Such groupings allow riders of all ages and abilities to travel to the site together and ride for hours.

All trails are clearly marked, and detailed maps are available at local bike shops.

Riding new trails

The Moab area has many new mountain-biking trails that are clearly marked and good for all skill levels. Detailed maps are available at local bicycle shops.

Mag 7 • A single-track, nonmotorized option that offers bikers plenty of trail options without the dust and exhaust you get on the Gemini Bridges trail. Bull Run is a fun, intermediate 5.1-mile ride that links to the Great Escape, another flowing, fun ride.

Suggested ride • Take Bull Run down to Great Escape, connect to Little Canyon and climb it, hit Arth’s Corner for an easy loop; then take Great Escape down and link up to the usual Gemini Bridges exit. If you left a car at the Moab Brand trails, have lunch then rock some of those trails.

Moab Brand Trails • These flowing trails were built by someone who knows mountain biking— just when you wonder where the line is, it appears in front of you, swooping up and over slickrock, through ravines and skirting cliff borders. These trails, about 30 miles’ worth, have something for everyone.

Suggested ride • Inexperienced bikers can play on the Bar M loop and Rusty Spur, while more advanced riders can test their mettle on Deadman’s Ridge, Long Branch and the recently opened North 40.

Klondike Bluff Trails • The long-established Klondike Bluff Trail is still the pre-eminent trail in this area, but now there are 33 additional miles including the just-opened UFO Trail. Singletrack options now exist that can allow riders to link the Baby Steps trail to new ones such as Mega Steps and EKG. Like the Moab Brand trails, there is plenty of variety to satisfy everyone.

Suggested ride • The Dino Flow trail is a super-fast, flowing friendly trail, while EKG will live up to its name and give even the most experienced riders a few pumps of the heart rate with its techy slickrock sections.