Trip Report - More Utah awesomeness (UT x-post, pic heavy!)
After my 4 days exploring the Paunsaugunt Plateau I continued on through Utah, stopping in Salt Lake City area, San Raphael/Green River area, and Moab. Lots of epic riding to be had and I checked off a number of rides from my ever-growing to-do list. Some of them, like this one, were added to the list right before my trip.
First up was a ride in North Ogden that I read about on another forum: Perry Canyon to Grizzly Peak to Ben Lomond. I had seen the individual segments on utahmountainbiking.com but not being familiar with the area I had no idea you could combine them into a much longer ride. It looked like an awesome ride with some good climbing, awesome views, long traverse and big descent at the end.
This would be a long point to point ride making logistics difficult, seeing that I was riding solo. Some research showed I could catch a commuter bus to cover 11mi of flat pavement which sounded very a$$-numbing. The bus plan worked well and everything was going perfect until I got on the trail and both tires went flat in less than 1/4mi. 6-8 goat heads in each tire and 40mi to go with no more spare tubes. A web search found a bike shop 20 blocks away. Decision time...shop doesn't open til 10 so it will be close to 11 before I can get back to the trailhead - can I finish before dark? I did not have lights with me... Worst case I can do an out and back to Grizzly Peak if going is slow. So, I was off to the shop to load up on slime tubes and an emergency light in case I was not able to finish before dark.
Up at sunrise, chilly descent down into N Ogden
Trailhead for Perry Canyon trail to Grizzly Peak
Trail starts off nice. Just bring protection, the trail is loaded with goat heads. (I'm told this is only in Ogden, rest of SLC area does not have them!)
The climb to Grizzly Peak is 4,400ft in 10mi.
Its mostly climbable but slightly steeper than is comfortable, so I found myself stopping for rests frequently
There was a lot of haze, presumably from fires
In fact once I got high enough I could barely make out the valley floor
The trail switchbacks up the side of a canyon and then switchbacks some more up the nose of a ridge
The ridgeline I will be traversing comes into view
My route will take me just below the peak you can see above my pack
Looking off the side, terrain is pretty rugged
Reaching the top I have a 5mi fire road traverse
The road traverses around another peak and climbs up to a lookout. I am on singletrack the rest of the way.
At this point I am thinking I just have to climb over the right shoulder of the peak and it will be all downhill from there.
Looking back. I traversed the whole ridge you can see in the distance. The road goes around the taller peak on the left and climbs up to the hill far left. It would be possible to cut off the traverse around the peak by cutting up on trail from the pond. It would be HAB, and you would miss some descent from the lookout, but you would avoid some painful fire road.
Traversing the shoulder of the peak
Rugged terrain. I was really wishing the haze wasn't there. I'm sure the views would be amazing on a clear day
Turns out there was more to it than just climbing the shoulder of the peak.
Because there were several more peaks to climb over. Ben Lomond is the far, tall one. I will be going right to the top of it, only I don't know it yet.
Its a short detour to the summit. Of course I have to go get my summit points
I hear a noise behind me and figure its a marmot or something. Nope...
He's only 40ft or so away, very cool to see so close
Looking back from where I came, trail ran along the left side of the peaks
And where I am going, trail will follow somewhere along that ridge before dropping into a pass beyond the end of the ridge
Dropping off the peak had its moments...
The top was pure rock wasteland, much different from what you'd expect in the SLC area
A few switchbacks down I ran across the rest of the herd
Probably 50 of them, hanging out all over the trail. Each switchback I'd ride they would all move over more, til I was finally past the lot of them. Very cool to see.
I am now getting into the last light of the day. While the haze spoiled some of the view it made for some really cool late afternoon light
Final descent. There is still a long traverse beyond the end of this ridge, then a 3,000 descent to come
I'm parked at the top of the pass, which is the open area just to the right of the middle of the picture
The descent took me from alpine to sub alpine, into pine forest and finally oak and scrub
I finished after sunset but with decent light remaining. This will go down as one of my favorite rides in a long time. Just a good, long ride with some great singletrack, all at elevation. Only being a clear day would have made it better. Not sure exactly what the stats are for the point to point itself, but mine for the day, minus the bus ride, are 40mi and around 6000ft climbing and descent. Elevation is from around 5,000 to 9,700. Would definitely do this one again....
Wasatch Crest loop
This one had been on my to do list for a long time, and while it did not disappoint, it seemed a little less epic than the ride I did the previous day.
I started at Mill Creek Trailhead and climbed up Big Water Trail.
It was a beautiful contouring trail through pine trees and aspens higher up
There were some rock gardens. Seemed like the direction I was going these were not rideable
Continuing to climb
Views become awesome
I get into some aspens that are turning color, very pretty
Most other riders were going the opposite direction. I guess S to N is the way to go for point to point rides
Pano shot of the whole ridge
Looking down on Desolation Lake
Last action shot
After finishing Wasatch I continued on with the Pine Cone Ridge. This isn't a pic from that trail, it was way too much fun and flowy to stop on
View to the ski hill
From Pine Cone Ridge I took the Mid Mountain trail across north and connected back in to Mill Creek, with a side trip on Ironman and Goldfinger Trails
Maples were turning, not just aspens
On the Crest Connector
This was a really fun ride. There are lots of singletrack options below the ski hill too, so you can do this loop other ways from Park City. I seemed to be going against traffic on Wasatch Crest, but you definitely want to descend on Pine Cone Ridge rather than climb it, despite the awesome views on Wasatch Crest, descending Pine Cone Ridge was definitely the highlight of the day. I also did a side out and back at the end to Dog Lake, which was listed as a SLC classic ride. I didn't think much of it, it was too steep climbing to be at all fun, and steep enough descending it was just a brake dragger, with tons of hikers. Next time I'd skip Dog Lake and maybe do a loop starting in Park City. Some of the other side trails looked less travelled and more raw.
Stats: 32.2mi, 5,330 gain/loss, elev range: 7,590 to 9,900
5 Miles of Hell
As usual with any trip, I had way more trails that I wanted to ride than days to ride them. So I picked a few that seemed interesting and/or which fit into the road trip well. A couple rides I found on utahmountainbiking were 5 Miles of Hell and Good Water Rim. 5MOH just sounded interesting and punishingly technical. Good Water was listed as one of the best rides in Utah. They were both close to one another an not far off my route from SLC to Moab, so hit them I did.
5 Miles of Hell was up first, since I wanted to be able to get this one done before the heat of the day. While the name says 5 Miles, the actual singletrack is 7 miles, and maybe more depending how you define what constitutes "trail". I was expecting it to be rowdy, and it was. The difficulty for MTB was that it climbed steeply over rock formations and in and out of canyons frequently. The descents were technical but not too hard provided you picked the right line, most of the climbs were HAB. All the ups and downs were short, and there were lots of unrideable sandy washes connecting sections of trail.
5MOH is a moto trail straight up, and a tough one at that. Looks like there are other moto trails in the area but I did not see anything about riding MTB on them. With lots of sand in the area they may be no good at all.
The trail starts off with some fun slickrock. Where the trail is flat-ish or down its all rideable provided you pick the right line.
When the trail turns uphill the going gets really tough. Think multiple big step ups in the middle of steep grades.
Its definitely not flowy fast, but you can get into a certain rhythm
For this trail, this is what I'd consider a pretty mellow climb. Rather than burn myself trying to ride all the climbs I simply walked all but the mellower ones. The flats and descents were more than enough work.
Lots of short fun descents
Incredible terrain here. Lots of potential for MTB if only there were riders to build it
A few more fun drops
I am impressed that motos can ride all the stuff here. It is no joke. And apparently, not everyone makes it out. If you want a free bike I can send coordinates. Needs new chain though.
The slickrock portion done, it is a half mile further to connect with the moto trail and fire road which will take me 9mi back to the trailhead.
Stats: 20mi, gain/loss: 1,670ft, elev range: 5,990 to 6,730ft
It was definitely an interesting trail. Not really suited to MTB obviously, unless you don't mind lots of HAB. I kind of liked it, and you will get your fill of technical rock riding if that is your thing. Worth checking out if you're in the area and have ridden all the normal stuff nearby, otherwise you may be better off spending another day in Moab or Fruita/GJ.
Edit...I see on utahmountainbiking.com there is another route called Iron Wash that begins at the start of 5MOH and goes south then east, looping around. Sounds like its another moto route but might be a bit easier for a bike than 5MOH if you're in the area.
Good Water Rim
5MOH took about 5 hrs so I didn't exactly finish before the heat of the day. I took a few hours break, had lunch and a beer, and made my way over to Good Water Canyon, which also seems to be called the Little Grand Canyon. The singletrack there is 15mi with 6mi of dirt road to close the loop. The singletrack goes around all the fingers on one side of the canyon and has minimal elevation gain. Perfect to balance my day after the slog this morning.
Nice views on the drive N from I-70
Little Grand Canyon seems an appropriate name
I rode counter clockwise. Views are best at the west end of the singletrack
Views from the west end. I just missed sunset
On the drive back to I-70 I checked out some pictographs at roadside.
Good Water Rim was a really fun ride. Its not technical at all aside from a few small rock ledges, and there is not much climbing. You can increase the challenge by going faster or just cruise along. Its a 35mi drive off I-70 but worth it, IMO. There is also free camping with a couple signed sites right near the canyon edge.
Stats: 21mi, 1,270 gain/loss, elev range 5,960 to 6,300ft. My ride time was 2hr total to give you an idea, so no need for more than 1/2 day for this one.
Western Rim Trail
Not too far down the road, and just east of Moab on I-70, is Western Rim trail. Its a more well known trail and despite it being a weekday there were plenty of riders out. It is right near the UT/CO state line, and runs along the rim above the Colorado River for some miles with some awesome views.
The ride starts with a dirt road climb up to a mesa edge. Singletrack begins, and its all moto trail. Some nice, some sandy and loose
There are a few steep climbs and fast descents as you follow the edge of the mesa
Moving along views open up but it will be a while before you can see the Colorado River
Dropping off the mesa
A short HAB takes you up onto a cool ridgeline
Lots of up and down for some time
Finally the river comes into view. Singletrack follows the rim of the mesa to the left
Dropping down to a lower level
Following mesa fingers
There was a river valley like this near where I grew up, I have always been fascinated by the topography
The trail loops around and soon joins up with the Kokopelli trail (mostly dirt road) which takes you back near the start where its a short descent back to the truck. Definitely a fun ride. I was not expecting all the moto trail but for the most part it was very rideable and fun.
Stats: 24mi, 1,880ft gain/loss; elev range 4,400 to 5,100
Exploring Moab's La Sals - Day 1
Previously I had only visited Moab in spring, when snow keeps riders off Burro Pass and Hazard County. On my fall Moab/CO trip a year ago I had my first chance to ride the Whole Enchilada. On that ride I noticed trail head signs in a few places, and wondered where they went and if they were any good. The shuttle driver had mentioned that people do ride up top in the summer, and they had in fact been running their shuttles almost daily. I did some research and came up with a couple routes that looked do-able. There is very little info out there and two of the shops I stopped in at didn't know much about most of the trails in the La Sals. But they did suggest a couple that I already had in mind. Most others were still total unknowns. I headed up the hill for a couple days of exploring.
I hit the jackpot on peak aspen season.
Starting from upper Hazard County trailhead I checked out the top of Warner Oowah and Schuman Trails, and picked the latter because it offered a bit more vertical. In retrospect this was unwise and my punishment was a 3mi road climb to Oowah Lake.
A bit of ridgetop riding before dropping down Schuman. It was a fun descent with some nice steep parts, but Warner Oowah Tr drops right in near the lake.
Oowah Lake. Lots of fish, but mostly small. Camping at Oowah CG is $5/night
With no info on either of the trails that leave from the lake I picked Boren Mesa Tr. Either one was going to be a tough climb, so pick your poison.
I get up top to a ridgeline which has a nice view looking north
Boren Mesa eventually takes me to Geyser Pass Rd. From there I have another tough climb of 3.5mi up to the connector to Moonlight Meadow trail. Rather than head to Burro Pass straight away I decided to loop back on MM and check out the rest of the Clark Lake Loop, of which Boren Mesa forms one part.
Moonlight Meadow has some definite MTB - specific work on it including this nice bridge
I rode the loop clockwise which would take me down the lower half of Boren Mesa
Aspens were stunning, at every vista, and even when there was no vista
This had looked really tough on the hike up but none of the steps are scary on their own. I hit it the first time, unfortunately it took 3-4 tries to get a good pic on it and the attempts got sketchier each time.
It was really incredible how bright some of the colors were
The climb back up and over to Clark Lake was tough
Back up on Moonlight Meadow the views really open up. The trail takes you right up to Geyser Pass and the spot where the Whole Enchilada shuttles drop you off. Late in the day though, everything was quiet.
Looking up toward Burro Pass.
The view south to Haystack Mtn and Mt Mellenthin
We'll just pretend that I was able to climb the whole thing
Burro Pass Tr was fun as always, though it was pretty beat from a constant stream of riders
Aspens getting lit up in the late afternoon. It was a treat to ride the trail in afternoon and get some great light. Most people roll though in early to mid morning and miss out on this.
Warner Lake. Fish were biting, and I was hungry. Caught my dinner for tonite and headed back to the truck to do some cooking.
Warner Lake CG would be a spectacular place to camp this time of year.
The view, nearing sunset
The trails I rode were pretty tough. It seemed you were always on a steep climb or a steep descent. Moonlight Meadow was by far the best trail aside from the well-known Burro Pass. If I had to suggest the best route from what I did it would be to start at Hazard County TH, hit Warner Oowah Tr, climb Boren Mesa and then connect to Moonlight Meadow via Clark Lake Loop Tr, and then up and over Burro Pass. It would be 12mi or so, but a tough 12mi. Or you could do what I did and explore as much as available daylight would allow.
Stats: 23.4mi, 5,600ft gain/loss; elev range: 8,100 to 11,200ft
Exploring Moab's La Sals - Day 2
For the second day I went a different direction - south. Trying to relate the landscape to what is on the map, and what it is in my head, it helps to look at a photo taken from a distance.
There are 3 distinct groups of peaks in the La Sals. Burro Pass is in the left hand group at the far right end, and my Day 1 ride went around the far right hand peak in that group. For Day 2, I would start between the left and middle groups, traverse across the front of the middle group, and then navigate around the middle peaks in the right hand group.
My first trail, starting from Geyser Pass Rd, is the Trans-LaSal Trail. It immediately drops into a dark drainage before climbing back out.
Tons of grouse. I swear a few times, I heard them crash into trees as they tried to fly away.
Old cabins and signs of mining were found here and there
At the end of the trail I hopped on a dirt road east, and tried to find road 073. This wasn't it, there were a few roads there which were not on my map. This section was gnarly, with a road bed of massive scree like the rocks you see here. Entirely HAB even though it was downhill
Aspens are nice again today
At some point 073 becomes La Sal Pass Rd. I followed this for a couple miles east
Medicine Lake, not only beautiful but full of hungry rainbows
I stopped for a half hour and caught a few. No dinner tonight though, all were were catch & release
A bit more fire road to go. With views like this I had no complaints
I rode down to check out Beaver Lake. Looked dry to me, unless I missed it and didn't go far enough from the road
South Mountain...no, this is not Phoenix
The trail started off nice and then it got mean, 2,000ft gain over half of which was HAB
Things start to get steep
I was able to climb a fair bit but some parts were too much and I walked
Very pretty forest
I reached the top of South Mountain Tr. It dropped down off the nose of a ridge before doing some contouring
View south from this spot
More scenery and greenery
Looking back at Aspens
Finally around to the west side of the mountain I get some fun descent
After navigating the nose of a few ridges the trail drops into a big meadow. Somewhere in the meadow I lost the trail. There was no hope. My GPS told me I was only 500ft away from a dirt road I'd been on before starting the loop. I made for it quickly as I only had a half hour til dark for a ride that would take close to an hour back to the truck.
View of the mountains from below, at the end of the ride and at last light
Another fun, but tough ride. The climb up South Mtn Trail was very tough. I don't often count down the feet remaining in a climb but I found myself checking the elevation frequently during the ride. Even the trail after you hit the top is not easy. It has some steep climbs and descents too. I kept and eye out for trails heading off from S Mountain, and saw a couple. I also missed a couple. I'm glad I did this loop. As much as Day 1 seemed remote and un-used, this loop must see even fewer people each year. I only saw 1 person on the trail, a guy who rode up a fire road in an ATV and was looking for wildlife to photograph.
Stats: 25.4mi, 6,200 gain/loss; elev range 8,570 to 10,740ft
I really liked the La Sals. Views were awesome, trails were raw and tough, and the rides were interesting. I think there are better opportunities for point to points than loops though, because you will always be doing a steep climb out of whatever drainage you drop in to. And when you can drop all the way into Moab as part of some such rides, it makes an epic ride even more incredible. I'll be back to this area again for sure....
Nice! Beautiful. So many trails, so little time.
Moab - Slickrock
In four prior visits to Moab I have never done Slickrock Trail. While it is the most famous trial in Moab, if not the US, we always figured we could get our slickrock fix on the various other trails we would be riding. And while that may be true, there must be a reason why so many people flock to this trail.
I always had the impression it would be a boring series of steep slickrock climbs and descents, not much technical or challenge beyond the steepness. While this turned out to be somewhat true, it isn't a technical trail, it did have more of a trail feel to it than I was expecting and was actually really fun. Combined with some awesome views and short time needed to ride it I'm still wondering why we had never done it before.
Trail is marked with white dashes, or you can follow the obvious line marked on the slickrock from thousands of tires
It soon becomes apparent that maybe clipless is not the ideal pedal for this trial. Some of the cleat scratches I'd see suggest people slid quite a ways
The trail goes through some cool undulating terrain
Did I make it?
A: no, it got real steep at the top. There were maybe 3 climbs I didn't make. Like they say, there is enough grip to climb anything if you have the legs for it.
I had never thought of motos on the trail, but makes sense since they came up with the route. 2nd guy got some nice air coming over the edge here.
LaSals form a nice background
I checked out both viewpoints on the trail. I love the contrast between the rock and the green valley bottom
The river is pretty too
Not only were bikes and motos out, but trail runners too
Looking south from the second view point
Looking east you can see the bottom of Porcupine Rim dropping off the mesa down to the river. When riding it you don't really notice it drops that much.
The ride is a lollipop with an optional practice loop, and two short out and backs to viewpoints. Its close to town and only requires 2-3 hours to ride.
Stats: 10.5mi, 1,050 gain/loss, elev range: 4,450 to 4,800ft
Moab - Poison Spider to Portal
Another famous Moab trail I had never done was Poison Spider. I knew this was a jeep trail with lots of sandy sections, so it wasn't that high on my list. On the other hand it is the easiest way to get to the top of Portal trail, which is probably my favorite Moab trail. So off I went.
Petroglyph panels on the road ride over to Poison Spider trailhead. On this trip I learned the difference between pictographs (painted on rock) and petroglyphs (etched into rock)
Like Amasa Back this is a jeep trail
Great views abound
A few fun descents but mostly you are slogging uphill
I pass a group of jeeps navigating this notch
It is roughly 7mi up to the start of portal
Moab and LaSals provide backdrop as I start the descent on Portal
I never get much for pics on Portal because its in the shade, and because its way too much fun to stop once you get below the mandatory dismounts
Nice view of the river
Portal always delivers. I just wish I could ride it more than once a year, so I could remember all the lines! If you are in Moab and have the time, the Magnificent 7 trail is a much better ride to get to Portal, which is the 7th of the 7 trail segments. But if shorter on time Poison Spider or Gold Bar will get you there too.
Stats: 12.4mi, 1,870ft gain/loss; elev range: 3,970 to 5,050 ft
Moab - Brand Trails
As far as I know the Brand Trails are pretty new. They a little ways north of Moab but are now connected to it by a bike path from the Colorado River bridge on 191. This is where Outerbike is hosted, and for better or worst I got into town the day after Outerbike ended.
The trails nearest the expo site were a bit beat up, but were better the further you got. The system has a bit of everything from smooth flowy to technical chunky trail to dirt road. Definitely worth checking out even for an hour or two. The only trail I thought wasn't worth riding was the so-called double black Killer B which drops steeply down to the highway. Its really not that technical or difficult, not very interesting, and then you have no return option but the paved bike path. You are much better off on one of the other trails like Long Branch or Bar B. Lots of new trails popping up which are not on the maps for systems like this and Klondike Bluffs.
This trail network, like most in Moab, is well signed
It was late afternoon and I still felt like riding more, so decided I could get in an hour or so before and maybe some more trail in after sunset
There were some brand new sections of trail that were a little beat after Outerbike, but most was in great shape
I basically did a big loop around the outside trails and a bit of the inner stuff. There are tons of ways to put loops together, its a big spiderweb of trails
Stats: 18.6mi, 1,750ft gain/loss; elev range: 4,230 to 4,800ft
Moab - Klondike Bluffs
Another trail system I had never hit before but had heard good things about. Like Brand Trails, it would turn out to have a bit of everything but more climbing. I didn't take many pictures...its your typical Moab landscape and typical Moab trails.
Trail is being added here regularly so most of the trail maps (located at each trail intersection and trailhead) are out of date. Nice problem to have....
I started from the main trailhead up Dino-Flow, planning to loop sections to get in as much as possible while minimizing double track as possible
I rode back on part of EKG and then up Baby Steps North, to Mega Steps
Rather than double up Dino or EKG I rode down the new Agate East/West. It sucked, pretty sandy and needs to bed in more, so I bailed back up to EKG to Little Salty, to UFO to Baby Steps. EKG has some tough rocky climbing
Baby Steps was fun and flowy, more dirt than rock but had some climbing to it again.
Pretty fun trails overall. I didn't really like the flow on EKG, maybe if I rode it the other direction I would like it better. The other trails were all more fun, and mostly rideable either way it seems. Good for a solid half day ride or a short full day ride.
Stats: 25.4mi; 2,220ft gain/loss; elev range: 4,600 to 5,260ft
Beautiful report. Thanks for posting.
"There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea
i wish I could ride there. It's much different than the SE USA.
Thanks for posting
Not one shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.
Nice report. Love Utah trails.
Nice report, thanks for taking the time to stop and get all these great pictures.
Holy carp, man, you get around. I love Utah. Pics look great!
All life is 6 to 5 against, just enough of a chance to make it interesting.
AWESOME! You really captured the essence (at least for me) of what it's all about.
This is amazing.... Was this recent? I am surprised there isn't more snow already?
Beautiful.....Thanks for sharing!
Holy cow! Amazing write up, and fantastic photographs! Some places I've ridden, but many many that I haven't. Thank you for your time to write this up and post the images!
"...when your ride is nearly over, it seems to have lasted but an instant..."
Very nice, gotta love the variety and terrain of Utah trails. The Portal trail once was enough for me, I'm a wuss.
I'm extremely jealous. Thanks for sharing.