Results 1 to 13 of 13
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    20

    Novice rides (July/August): Moab, Durango, Zion, Escalante, Pikes Peak, Smoky Mtns?

    Summer-family-cross-country trip with 9 and 12 years old boys (good riders on pavement and dirt rides, novices on trails).

    Any suggestions for good rides in/near Moab, Durango, Zion, Escalante, Pikes Peak, and the Smoky Mtns?

    Some of the stuff I've been reading...

    Here:

    Elsewhere:

    P.S. Families and Riding with Kids seems to be mostly about smaller kids, so I didn't post there. Also, yeah I know Moab will be hot
    Last edited by Deslock; 09-02-2014 at 04:03 AM.

  2. #2
    saddlemeat
    Reputation: bsieb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    2,535
    Klondike Bluffs... fun ride, nothing too intense, great scenery, dinosaur tracks, would be a good intro to Moab riding. Thunder Mountain is great, ride early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms, which can be scary. Good FS campground. Did these and others with my own son.
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    20
    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    Klondike Bluffs... fun ride, nothing too intense, great scenery, dinosaur tracks, would be a good intro to Moab riding. Thunder Mountain is great, ride early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms, which can be scary. Good FS campground. Did these and others with my own son.
    Thanks for the suggestions. I'd planned on hitting Thunder Mountain, and will add Klondike Bluffs to the list.

  4. #4
    C'dale Rush Lefty
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    405
    My trail analysis for intermediates video for Thunder Mountain Mountain Biking The Thunder Mountain Trail - An Analysis For Intermediates - YouTube

    It can be strenuous and that turns off newbies. Most of the tread would be OK though. Find a shuttle to the top if possible otherwise it is a long ride up a paved path to the top of the ridge and then an ugly 2 mile ride on a VERY dusty Forest Service Road to the trailhead.

    Maybe a better strategy at Thunder Mountain is to bike up from the lower trail head into the canyon and see how that goes before attempting the whole route. It is about a mile over very gentle trail to the scenic part of the canyon and then bike up a ways. Climbing there isn't bad compared to other places higher up. It isn't all downhill.

    The Moab Brand Trails a few miles north of Moab is excellent for newbies through advanced. Be out there at dawn to avoid the heat of the day. I've taught MTB to newbies there. They can start on dirt roads, Bar M Trail, play on extensive slick rock, then get onto beginner single track such as Lazy and EZ.

    Deadhorse Point State Park near Moab is supposed to have some great beginner / intermediate trails but I haven't tried them.

    West of Zion is the infamous Gooseberry Mesa with a slick rock practice loop. Some technical stuff on the practice loop but they may enjoy it. The south rim trail is too technical for beginners and very challenging for intermediates.

    Jim

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    808
    Thunder Mountain is a big day. As previously mentioned, it's a really big day if you ride the loop instead of shuttling to the top. It also ends with some pretty big exposure, which can be a bit much for some after a long day of tough riding.

    Gooseberry is mostly for advanced and expert riders. The penalty for a mistake can be pretty high. Better option in the area is to ride up and back on JEM trail and/or Gould's trail below Gooseberry and just a couple of miles from Hurricane, it's motels, food, and ice cream. Don't take the kids on the Rim portion of the loop, it's technical, hot, and difficult. JEM Trail Mountain Bike Trail, Virgin, UT

    Durango has some great riding for the young ones, particularly the Meadow Loop in Horse Gulch, which can be followed up by riding over to College Mesa, the little BMX loops up there, the College Rim trail, and then down Nature Trail or Lions Den (a bit tougher with more exposure). Twin Buttes is also worthy as it's short and pretty flowy and fun. It's starts steep, but mellows at the top. Just skip the steep section just below the buttes proper and take the old road around instead. Test Tracks/Dalla Mountain Park. The latter of these is steeper. All of these can be found on the Trails 2000 website. 35 and 60 minutes farther west, respectively, are Phil's World and Canyon of the Ancients (Sand Canyon) which have some great riding. Both would be suitable for kids though there are a few challenges in parts of Phil's. Sand Canyon is especially awesome for kids as you'll be riding through and among dozens of Ancestral Puebloan ruins that are 1000-700 years old. Both get hot during the day.

    Moab is technical unless you stay on trails that mostly follow jeep roads. One good one for the kids, with lots of views and a cool arch, is Gemini Bridges, but it is best ridden as a shuttle, which is possible if you let them ride down the road in front of you while you drive behind. You'd need a capable vehicle... One great thing that they'd like would be to ride out on the Slickrock at Sand Flats. Ride out to the main loop/practice loop split and let them play around in that area. So long as you keep the trail and/or the parking lot in site, you can ride all over the place and don't need to stay on the painted trail. It's also a good area for them to get comfortable with what they can do on slickrock as it has some very smooth and pretty mellow spots to play on. Be sure that they understand that they need to keep an eye out for drop-offs, and ride in the morning before 10 to beat the heat.

    One other really sweet little trail that no one knows about is the Page Loop, which is an 11 mile single track ride around the town of Page above "Lake" Powell. If you are driving between Durango, Gooseberry, and/or Thunder Mountain, you'll drive right through Page. It's also just off the route to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It's pretty easy riding, very little technical stuff, mostly easy to follow, less than 500 feet of climbing, and has amazing views. You can also go down to the lake and take a swim afterwards. There are a few spots that have some pretty good exposure but they have ridable lines that are farther back from the edge. I can't find any decent descriptions of the ride, so here's one of my ride tracks: Workout Details - SportyPal

  6. #6
    C'dale Rush Lefty
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    405
    @huntermos, I'm curious why you would recommend the start of the Slickrock Trail instead of the Moab Brand Trails. I taught my wife MTB near the start of the Slickrock Practice Loop but there isn't much real estate for newbies. At the Brand Trails take Bar M, an old dirt road, out of the parking lot only a short distance and they can ride over a huge area of slick rock, then work their way up the difficulty chain gradually.

    The Brand Trails also have beginner single track as does Deadhorse Point. Back in the day, like not that long ago, you were right, beginners got stuck on dusty roads. The Moab Trails Alliance is adding new beginner / low intermediate single track every year now. We spend two weeks a year there and can't keep up with all the new single track :-)

    My trail analysis for several Moab trails includes some for the Brand Trails. Moab Mountain Biking for Intermediates - A Trail Analysis - YouTube Of course don't take newbies on the Portal Trail!

    The only Gemini Bridges trail I know of is that rutted dusty road to the top that most rental Jeeps drive on their first day. I've seen MTBers on it but it never looked like they are having fun. In Moab I'm constantly hearing that the new trails at Deadhorse Point are great for beginners and low intermediates but I haven't bike there.

    I think Magnificent 7 / Mag 7 has some beginner / low intermediate as well as the new trails north of Moab Brand and south of Sovereign.

    Best to inquire at a local bike shop for the new stuff. I'll shoot some trail analysis video when we are there for Outerbike in October and include some of the new trails.

    Thunder Mountain is a big epic ride for low intermediates. It will take their breath away. However, it is awesome and for the most part the tread is decent. There are spots that will be walked of course. I wouldn't recommend this trail until after they get used to Moab and Durango. We stay at Harold's Cabins not far from the lower trailhead. Nice cabins and a restaurant.

    Agree on JEM but I like the top of Gooseberry better, especially in the summer.

    Jim

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    808
    Quote Originally Posted by jmpreston View Post
    @huntermos, I'm curious why you would recommend the start of the Slickrock Trail instead of the Moab Brand Trails.
    Well, for starters, you already did! I trust you know them better than I having only ridden up there once, and it was chunky in spots and hot, hot, hot. I don't recall how far in the slickrock is, but it's a brutal place to ride in the heat. Gemini isn't bad for kid with limited experience, and you can access bits of the upper Mag 7 if they wanted to. The upper section of Bull is a fun out and back that isn't too techy. Usually, the Gemini road isn't too bad, except some sandy spots, and the ride is plenty scenic. Slickrock at Sand Flats is really close to town so it's easy to get up there and get a ride in before the heat get's too much, and the area I recommended is just a few hundred yards from the parking lot, so they can bail when they are tired or it gets too hot. I don't know about the Dead Horse Point trails, but again, it's a 30+ minute drive from town to DHP, so really just keeping the time of year they are riding in mind.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    20
    Thanks for the detailed replies! Lots of great comments!

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    20
    We returned a couple weeks ago from our epic 6 week trip: 7,914 miles, 22 states, 27 nights in tents (20 in a row), 12 National Parks, biking, hiking, tubing, swimming, mule ride, narrow gauge locomotive ride, slot canyons, arches, amusement parks, trampoline parks, gocarts, tramway, etc.

    The biking was incredible! Some highlights:

    • Smoky Mountains, TN: Cades Cove once with my family and a second time solo (beautiful and lots of wildlife, so worth mentioning even though it was mostly on pavement).
    • Albuquerque, NM: North Valley Bike Park with my family (fun learning tool), and Oak Flat with my boys (an easy intro ride).
    • Durango, CO: Overend with my family (Falcon, Ella Vita, Brown’s Ridge, Bells, Perins Gulch, part of Star Wars) and Horse Gulch solo (Zip Line, Meadow Loop, Stacy’s Loop, Mike’s Trail, parts of Cuchillo). Animas River Trail was a nice family ride too (paved, but pleasant).
    • Cortez, CO: Phil’s World with my family (we all loved the Ribcage!).
    • Red Canyon, UT: Thunder Mountain loop solo (my favorite ride overall with its nice switchbacks, views, and technical bits).
    • Zion, UT: Floor of the Valley Trail/Road solo (paved like Cades Cove, but mentioned for the amazing views).
    • Moab, UT: Moab Brand Trails (EZ and Lazy with with my family; Deadman’s Ridge, part of Long Branch, Bar B, and Killer B solo) and Porcupine Rim solo (I didn't have time to do the entire loop, so I rode up and down the single track section... very technical... I probably walked up ~1/4 of it, and had to walk down a few of the biggest ledges too).

    On a side note, my wife rode this stuff on a rigid fork hybrid with a ridiculously upright and slightly unstable seating position (a while back, we swapped on sweptback handlebars, ergonomic grips, and different stem to make riding more comfortable due to her having arthritis and artificial wrist joints).

    After we finished Phil’s World, I told her she’s a bad ass. She had a blast, and now she wants a mountain bike! (I'm going to start shopping for one as a birthday present)

    Anyway, thanks again everyone, especially huntermos for making our stay in Durango awesome!

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    20
    BTW, many here might be able to relate to this story:

    My wife's bike was stolen off our car in Oklahoma. It was locked to our car and the thief tore it off in daylight!

    First, he unsuccessfully tried to steal my older son's bike off our trailer (he unfastened it, but gave up because of the lock). He then unsuccessfully tried to pry my wife's bike's lock with a knife/screwdriver, and instead forced the bike and rack off the roof’s cross bars. He then dragged the bike and rack to a nearby field and smashed the rack to separate it from the bike (I found what was left of the rack afterwards).

    It was a bummer not only because of its monetary value, but because her bike was customized to be comfortable (due to her having artificial wrist joints and arthritis, as mentioned in the post above).

    We filed a police report and pressed onward to Albuquerque, a bit demoralized.

    However, the story has a happy ending because seven hours later, she got a “Did you lose a bike?” text. I’d put stickers on our bikes with our contact info, and a trucker named Dave found it abandoned on the side of I40.

    I was prepared backtrack 400 miles to retrieve it, but he happened to also be traveling west, and met us near Albuquerque the next day. Wow we lucked out!

    Dave the hero truck driver restored our faith in humanity, and the black cloud that would've ruined the tone of our vacation instead became an uplifting moment!

  11. #11
    C'dale Rush Lefty
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    405
    Thanks for the followup report! Hope the dust wasn't too bad on that Forest Service road from the top of Red Canyon to the top of Thunder Mountain Trail. They need some single track there.

    We'll probably do Killer B when we're in Moab in a few weeks for Outerbike. Bar B has some nice technical on the Moab end that we fell in love with. You didn't have time for North 40, Rockin' A, or Circle O it seems. They are waiting for your next trip :-)

    So you found the bottom of Porky to be very technical :-)

    You did a hell of a road trip!

    Jim

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    20
    Quote Originally Posted by jmpreston View Post
    Thanks for the followup report! Hope the dust wasn't too bad on that Forest Service road from the top of Red Canyon to the top of Thunder Mountain Trail.
    There'd been some rain in the days leading up to it, so not much dust. Weather-wise, we really lucked out.

    Quote Originally Posted by jmpreston View Post
    You didn't have time for North 40, Rockin' A, or Circle O it seems. They are waiting for your next trip :-)
    Yeah, I didn't get to Klondike Bluffs either. Or Deadhorse. Or Slickrock. With only four nights in Moab, there just wasn't enough time to do everything (we swam in the Colorado and drove/hiked in Canyonlands/Arches too). I hope to get back there some day.

    Quote Originally Posted by jmpreston View Post
    So you found the bottom of Porky to be very technical :-)
    When I went up the section that curves into the canyon at the beginning of the ride, my jaw dropped. I thought to myself, "WTF, this is considered rideable?!" and questioned my decision to bike that trail

    Glad I decided to man up and press on since most of the rest was doable (and all of it was amazing).

    Quote Originally Posted by jmpreston View Post
    You did a hell of a road trip!
    Thanks! Been planning this trip since the previous Summer, and I'm psyched it went well.

    BTW, it was four of us with our camping, biking, hiking, and swimming gear in a Prius V (with a roof rack and trailer, but still... a Prius!)

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    27
    Deslock,

    Congratulations on your trip and the return of your wife’s bike. Thanks to you (and others in this thread) for posting ideas. I’m planning a similar trip and you all saved me some work.

    Bob

Similar Threads

  1. Pikes Peak by MTB - No Barr Trail?
    By csgaraglino in forum Colorado - Front Range
    Replies: 27
    Last Post: 04-04-2014, 04:47 PM
  2. bike down Pikes Peak
    By zygote2k in forum Colorado - Front Range
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 08-06-2013, 08:49 PM
  3. Pikes Peak Descent
    By muddywings in forum Colorado - Front Range
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 08-29-2011, 09:18 PM
  4. Pikes Peak Shuttle 8/10/11
    By muddywings in forum Colorado - Front Range
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 08-08-2011, 03:54 PM
  5. Riding down Pikes Peak
    By TitusCO in forum Colorado - Front Range
    Replies: 34
    Last Post: 07-17-2011, 02:30 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •