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  1. #1
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    First trip to Moab, picking a trail

    Hello

    My family will be traveling to your great state to the incredible wonders there the week of 3/25. I, an avid mtn biker, get one day to ride. I have been reading the sticky and now the questions start.

    With one day to ride I want an awesome ride. So much to choose from. We are actually staying NE of La Sal so I thought why not The Whole Enchilada? Looks like the ride I want but from what i read "The alpine trail sections from Burro Pass down to the LaSal Mountain Loop Road open July 1 at the earliest". Is that correct? If so what does "not open" mean? Here in Minnesota we ride almost year round. I ride in snow an love it, if not too deep. What should I expect? Where would I pick it up?

    This is the first of many questions.

    Thanks
    Pat

  2. #2
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    We are having a pretty nice snow year so far, so I would guess the snow is getting really deep in the La Sals, where TWE is. People ride year round up here in Northern Utah also, but I'm guessing riding the La Sals in March would be trailblazing on a fat bike in 15 feet of accumulated untracked snow.

  3. #3
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    Riding on spring/summer snow is not the same as winter snow. We ride on winter snow here too, but on old, drifted, decaying, slushy, melty snow is not fun for anybody. Plus the melting snow and freeze/thaw cycles keep the dirt muddy, and there is stick to your tires type mud up there in places. The kind of mud that you have to walk your bike out because the wheels don't turn anymore. And it probably means the roads are still closed, so you can't shuttle to the top anyways.

  4. #4
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    I don't know the elevation/snow status of Mag7 but it's got to be lower than Burro buy quite a bit. Mag7 through the Portal is a KILLER ride. I'd put it many many notches above TWE with the exception of upper porcupine which is also world class.
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  5. #5
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    OP:

    You understand that the top of the trail in question is at over 11,000ft, right?

    And at that altitude, late March is still very much winter?


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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    I don't know the elevation/snow status of Mag7 but it's got to be lower than Burro buy quite a bit. Mag7 through the Portal is a KILLER ride. I'd put it many many notches above TWE with the exception of upper porcupine which is also world class.
    Top of Mag 7 at Hwy 313 is at 4800'. I've experienced 60F° days up there in March and I've awakened to snow on my tent up there as late as the 3rd week in April.
    Last edited by sgltrak; 4 Weeks Ago at 03:58 PM.

  7. #7
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    you can't ride the top of TWE until at least late June. Mag 7 is the ride you want to do for this trip.

  8. #8
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    We’ve had 80 degree days in February but lately no rhyme or reason to anything, it’s already warming though. That said TWE will definitely not be clear in March as we have an above average snowfall up there and the shuttles are not even allowed to operate until mid to late June after the road dries out.
    Mag7 trails should be clear and dry by March and I would plan on riding there.

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    Thanks for all the replies guys. Yes it does appear that I am talking about a trail that is much to high for this time of year. Slushy melting snow, not what Im looking for. Scratch TWE.

    I will look into Mag 7. This might work well with another little trail added in.

    More to think about.

    Thanks
    Last edited by Mulcheese; 4 Weeks Ago at 12:03 PM.

  10. #10
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    To to OP, if you are riding solo, reconsider some of the more tech trails. You'll need to be prepared to completely self-support yourself (without cell signals) for your ride.

    That being said, my go-to ride for the first day in Moab and/or introducin new riders to Moab is Dead Horse Point. Yes, there are more technical trails. Yes, its a 25-35min drive from town, yes its got drop dead gorgeous views and a really well marked flowy trail.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bingemtbr View Post
    To to OP, if you are riding solo, reconsider some of the more tech trails. You'll need to be prepared to completely self-support yourself (without cell signals) for your ride.

    That being said, my go-to ride for the first day in Moab and/or introducin new riders to Moab is Dead Horse Point. Yes, there are more technical trails. Yes, its a 25-35min drive from town, yes its got drop dead gorgeous views and a really well marked flowy trail.
    Very good point bingemtbr. I have considered the whole "biking alone in a foreign trail system" thing. I am an avid remote camper, back country camper. When ever I am camping I am self sufficient and always consider possibilities. Ive been mtb for almost 30yrs.

    Things that I am planning to bring:
    map and compass
    food
    water
    first aid
    whistle
    tools
    tubes and pump
    ........

    With that being said I dont want to get on a trail that is not marked well and spend all my time stopping and getting my bearings.

    I am still in the process of reading the sticky "Moab trip planer". I will look through it to make some more decisions but very good point.

    Pat

  12. #12
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    I always make sure I am self-sufficient, but I have rarely found myself on a trail in the Moab area that I didn't see numerous other riders during my ride. The exceptions are trails farther from town that are not part of the typical "systems" like Hey Joe Canyon or Fisher Mesa, both of which are a bit more isolated.

    If Mag 7 is not long enough for you, you could extend it by making a loop out of it. Ride from town to Highway 313 using the bike path and the Brand trails. Ride Highway 313 up to 7 Up and use it to connect to the top of Mag 7, or ride to the Navajo Rocks loops connect them and Chisolm Trail to the top of Mag 7. You can get out of Mag 7 via Gemeni Bridges, Portal, or Poison Spider and ride back to town.

  13. #13
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    Shuttle companies in town modify their runs depending on season and trail status for TWE. If the La Sals are snowed in, they go to some of the lower access points and drop you off there. At worst, you could still get to ride Porcupine Rim down to the river. Very fun ride, with some amazing views and serious tech in spots. A shuttle run might also let you hook up with a riding partner or two so you have backup if something happens out there and you need help.

    I got to ride Mag 7 down to Gemini Arch last visit. That's a great run, and I would have liked to press on but heavy rain was starting to move in. FYI, Portal has been called by some as Death On The Left. People do ride it regularly and walk some of the nastier features, but the potentially lethal levels of exposure puts it out of my list of "want to ride". I might have done it when younger, but with two kids and the wife wanting me around I've reined it in a little.

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  14. #14
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    I have been told repeatedly by Jesse at Coyote Shuttles and Traci at Chili Pepper that Grand County (Moab) has the most search and rescues in the U.S. Rely on no one but yourself. Yes, during Jeep week and the Razor/Side-by-Side events you do see people all the time. But when the ish goes side ways, count only on yourself.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulcheese View Post
    Hello

    My family will be traveling to your great state to the incredible wonders there the week of 3/25. I, an avid mtn biker, get one day to ride. I have been reading the sticky and now the questions start.

    With one day to ride I want an awesome ride. So much to choose from. We are actually staying NE of La Sal so I thought why not The Whole Enchilada? Looks like the ride I want but from what i read "The alpine trail sections from Burro Pass down to the LaSal Mountain Loop Road open July 1 at the earliest". Is that correct? If so what does "not open" mean? Here in Minnesota we ride almost year round. I ride in snow an love it, if not too deep. What should I expect? Where would I pick it up?

    This is the first of many questions.

    Thanks
    Pat
    You are staying NE of LaSal? I can't imagine where that would be unless it is a cabin in the woods. You realize that is 45 minutes from Moab, right? And it can snow in March at 7000 feet? And the Geyser Pass Road will be closed so you can't go over the top to Moab?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by honkinunit View Post
    You are staying NE of LaSal? I can't imagine where that would be unless it is a cabin in the woods. You realize that is 45 minutes from Moab, right? And it can snow in March at 7000 feet? And the Geyser Pass Road will be closed so you can't go over the top to Moab?
    No no not that far north. Yes, in a cabin in the woods. We will be about 5 miles off of Hwy 46 east of LaSal. Im assuming that that drive to town wont be closed. Correct?

    Yes it will be a 45 min drive to the heart of Moab so Im thinking that Mag7 is a bit too far for my shuttle (wife). Im now looking to take something from town. Id like to get on Porcupine Rim and ride back to town. It appears that I can take Sands Flat out (steep) and connect up at some point.

  17. #17
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    Take it up past the put in for Porcupine a couple of miles. There will be a pull off to your right on a sharp turn and a washy trail to your left. Heab up the wash/trail (it is staked with a trail # ) and put in on upper porcupine. You'll be glad you did.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    I don't know the elevation/snow status of Mag7 but it's got to be lower than Burro buy quite a bit. Mag7 through the Portal is a KILLER ride. I'd put it many many notches above TWE with the exception of upper porcupine which is also world class.
    I'll second this. Rode Mag 7/Portal the first time last year and was blown away. Not sure I'd say its many notches above TWE, but I'd say its different, and at least in the same league.

    As I hear many riders do, we got off course and came way down off the plateau on the jeep trails - had to climb way back up in the blazing sun. Friend had three flats on the route. Ran out of water of course. And I'd do it all over again in a second. Amazing ride.

  19. #19
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    Not to add to the confusion of trying to make a decision, but if you are riding from town, you really might want to consider Captain Ahab and the variations in the Amasa Back area. Some of the best riding in Moab.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulcheese View Post
    No no not that far north. Yes, in a cabin in the woods. We will be about 5 miles off of Hwy 46 east of LaSal. Im assuming that that drive to town wont be closed. Correct?

    Yes it will be a 45 min drive to the heart of Moab so Im thinking that Mag7 is a bit too far for my shuttle (wife). Im now looking to take something from town. Id like to get on Porcupine Rim and ride back to town. It appears that I can take Sands Flat out (steep) and connect up at some point.
    I get where you are coming from, in your neck of the woods, a dot on the map means there is an actual town, but that is not necessarily the case in the mountain west.

    La Sal has a post office and a little, poorly stocked convenience store that is open occasionally, but other than that, you are 45 minutes from anything. The Geyser Pass Road that goes from NE of La Sal to Moab is almost 100% guaranteed to be closed, you will have to go Hwy 46/Hwy 191 to Moab. To get to almost any trails you will have to go into or through Moab. To get to Porcupine Rim (UPS/LPS) you could theoretically cut over to the the Loop Road from a few miles south of Moab, but most people just drive up Sand Flats Road, which starts right in town.

    You'll probably have a great time, I'm just trying to prepare you for the reality. La Sal was a uranium boomtown that has majorly faded away and has maybe 100 people left living in the vicinity. At this point, the town consists of a post office, an elementary school, a part-time convenience store, and a small feedlot. Anything else and it is off to Moab (or Monticello, I believe they are about the same distance from La Sal).

    BTW, if you want to be amazed, take a drive from where you will be, to Telluride. There is Paradox, CO, an old vanadium/uranium mining town a mile off the road, Norwood, which is a blink and is mostly people working at Telluride who don't mind driving a frightening canyon to/from work, and then suddenly Telluride, one of the richest and most ostentatious resort areas in the world. It is quite a contrast. The people who actually hang in Telluride don't drive there, they ride their private jets into the Telluride airport. The proletariat deal with the drive. Telluride was one of the coolest places on earth before they built the ski area. Edward Abbey wrote about the situation in 1975 and absolutely nailed it. If anything, it is even worse than he could have imagined. https://www.hcn.org/issues/8.21/download-entire-issue

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by bingemtbr View Post
    To to OP, if you are riding solo, reconsider some of the more tech trails. You'll need to be prepared to completely self-support yourself (without cell signals) for your ride.

    That being said, my go-to ride for the first day in Moab and/or introducin new riders to Moab is Dead Horse Point. Yes, there are more technical trails. Yes, its a 25-35min drive from town, yes its got drop dead gorgeous views and a really well marked flowy trail.
    Dead horse point is awesome and I'd second it for a first ride. It's not really that hard though so if you want one day to challenge yourself this is not it. But if you want a drop dead beautiful ride that won't leave you sore the next day this is it. I chose it for my first ride when I was there for a week.

  22. #22
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    Do you have to stay in a cabin 5 miles off the main road at 7000 feet?
    Is it a dirt road in to the cabin and/or is it maintained?

    I'd just go stay in Moab.

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    To reply to honkinunit: Thanks for the info. I actually have no interest in La Sal. This is merely a point for navigation. We have no interest in the town, other than the historical aspect that you described (Im a history buff). We are staying in this cabin because it is off the beaten path. We like the isolation. We tend to find places to stay that are out of the way for the solitude. Have to keep the kids pure (no wifi ) as we can. Typically we would stay in our van in the Na. forest but this time of year the van doesnt drive as we have snown and ice around. We like our cabin in the woods away from town.
    After more reading I realized that I didnt mention that I am a HT+ bike rider. Just not a FS guy. Some say that this is tough in Moab but Im also not the average rider. Im not very large and average jarring is not that bad to me and I dont mind some technical rocky rides. I actually enjoy the technicality of choosing your run.
    At this point the rides that are looking awesome to me are
    -Mag7
    -Porcupine Rim
    Not being a DH guy. What you think? Is this just CRAZY?

    I was also thinking HyMasa/Captain Ahab Huckfest area. What you think?
    Thanks guys
    Pat

  24. #24
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    FWIW, I saw a guy on a full rigid bike on Porcupine in October. He was doing pretty well, but looked like he was having second thoughts.

    Porcupine has sections of broken, chunky slickrock interspersed with dirt that are abusive to the body even on a mid travel 29er like I ride, and sections with significant huck-to-flat drops. If you're willing to rein in the speed and be picky on line choice it's certainly doable. My first choice would be to rent an enduro type longer travel bike, though. Utah is by far the most rugged state I've ridden in as far as rock content in their trails.

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulcheese View Post
    To reply to honkinunit: Thanks for the info. I actually have no interest in La Sal. This is merely a point for navigation. We have no interest in the town, other than the historical aspect that you described (Im a history buff). We are staying in this cabin because it is off the beaten path. We like the isolation. We tend to find places to stay that are out of the way for the solitude. Have to keep the kids pure (no wifi ) as we can. Typically we would stay in our van in the Na. forest but this time of year the van doesnt drive as we have snown and ice around. We like our cabin in the woods away from town.
    After more reading I realized that I didnt mention that I am a HT+ bike rider. Just not a FS guy. Some say that this is tough in Moab but Im also not the average rider. Im not very large and average jarring is not that bad to me and I dont mind some technical rocky rides. I actually enjoy the technicality of choosing your run.
    At this point the rides that are looking awesome to me are
    -Mag7
    -Porcupine Rim
    Not being a DH guy. What you think? Is this just CRAZY?

    I was also thinking HyMasa/Captain Ahab Huckfest area. What you think?
    Thanks guys
    Pat
    I’ve ridden an XC hardtail pretty damn fast in Moab. 29x2.35s, light hands and feet, proper tire and suspension settings will help.

    Aside from Porc, which is just never ending abuse, I wouldn’t hesitate to ride the trails you listed on a hardtail. Hymasa/Ahab is pretty short, even from town, so you might look into some of the trails that branch out from Hymasa, up top, and make some loops. I like doing loops at Mag7, too.


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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulcheese View Post
    After more reading I realized that I didnt mention that I am a HT+ bike rider. Just not a FS guy. Some say that this is tough in Moab but Im also not the average rider. Im not very large and average jarring is not that bad to me and I dont mind some technical rocky rides. I actually enjoy the technicality of choosing your run.
    At this point the rides that are looking awesome to me are
    -Mag7
    -Porcupine Rim
    Not being a DH guy. What you think? Is this just CRAZY?

    I was also thinking HyMasa/Captain Ahab Huckfest area. What you think?
    Thanks guys
    Pat
    No problem. My first few dozen trips to Moab beginning in the early 90's were on rigid or hard tail bikes and I've taken a hardtail 29er with 100mm forks 3 times in the past 4 years. My 2 spring trips in 2018 were on a soft tail 29er with 1" of travel out back and 100mm up front and it was fine on Jimmy Keen/UPS/LPS/Porc both trips, as well as Mag 7 area stuff, Hymasa/Ahab, and everything else we rode.

  27. #27
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    The first three or four times I rode Porcupine Rim (the old beginning from the stock tanks, obviously) and probably the first 30 times I rode Slickrock, I was on a full rigid bike, no suspension at all. Then we started getting forks. I didn't ride in Moab with rear suspension until 2001 and I had been riding out there for 13 years at that point.

    A fork is way more important that rear suspension, to keep your hands from going numb and to help with arm pump. You'll be fine on a HT. I hope you have a dropper though. Your gonads will thank you.

  28. #28
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    Yep, my first several trips to Moab were fully rigid...and no helmet.

    Mag7 has it all imo. Flow up top, views everywhere (but so does every ride there) tons of fun challenging moves, a bit of navigation/adventure, and satisfyingly physical if you finish out through Portal.

    Respect on getting off the beaten path, that's how I like to roll too. If you're hiking with the family Devils Rock Garden with primitive loop, fiery furnace, and the needles are all great. Off the beaten path a bit but still doable with family in tow, check out Pinto Arch.
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  29. #29
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    Navajo Rocks loop is awesome... Mag7 is very close by for a 2nd ride if you want also..

  30. #30
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    Sub scribed for trail beta.👍
    Wait whuuut, who did he tell you that!?!?....

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMac47 View Post
    Sub scribed for trail beta.👍
    Yup signed up. Im in. I will let all know how awesome of a time it was.
    All will be planned so that it goes sweet. Looking forward to the ride.

    Im still deciding on the perfect trail.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Yep, my first several trips to Moab were fully rigid...and no helmet.

    Mag7 has it all imo. Flow up top, views everywhere (but so does every ride there) tons of fun challenging moves, a bit of navigation/adventure, and satisfyingly physical if you finish out through Portal.

    Respect on getting off the beaten path, that's how I like to roll too. If you're hiking with the family Devils Rock Garden with primitive loop, fiery furnace, and the needles are all great. Off the beaten path a bit but still doable with family in tow, check out Pinto Arch.
    Your awesome man. Exactly helmets? I grew up when helmets were not norm. Just started wearing one after college.

    Now that the consensus is that a HT is cool to ride in Moab Im leaning to Mag7. The portal may be a bit rough but once in a life time ride so Im in.

    Ride on, live on

  33. #33
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    Now that the consensus is that a HT is cool to ride in Moab Im leaning to Mag7.
    If you are not a highly fit cyclist(and even if you are), everything out at the Brand trails, which is closer than Mag 7 will be great too. I ride the Brand Trails a couple of times a week when I'm in Moab--in addition to Mag 7--and my favorites are Rockin' A and Circle O, which are slickrock trails that will beat you up on a hard tail. You can do the loop:

    Code:
    Lazy EZ(beginner)->
    Deadman's(intermediate)->
    Rockin A(beginner/intermediate)->
    Circle O(beginner/intermediate)->
    North 40(beginner/intermediate)
    That loop takes me ~2-2.5 hours, and it has a lot of variation from smooth dirt to technical rock moves, so you get it all, and at any point it's easy to ditch back to the parking lot. To the East of the Brand trails you can see into Arches National Park, and to the South you can see the grand sweep of the desert floor as it rises up to the red rock buttresses of Porcupine Rim with the snow covered La Sal mountains in the background.

    A newer area is Navaho Rocks, which is also a great beginner/intermediate trail system. I park at the first parking lot on Highway 313(the highway you take to Mag 7), then I ride across the highway to the singletrack, which is the start of Rocky Tops:

    Code:
    Rocky Tops->
    Coney Island(hard, short climbs)->
    Big Lonely->
    Big Mesa(awesome)->
    Ramblin->
    first parking lot
    That takes me about ~2.5-3 hours.

    If you like technical challenges, in the Amasa Back area:

    Code:
    Amasa Back->
    HyMasa->
    top of Captain Ahab->
    Amasa Back
    That one probably won't kill you, although there are other trails in the system that will try to. There are lots of hard technical moves on Captain Ahab, and even Hymasa is technically and physically challenging for me--I've never done it with no dabs. Although, enough people(racers?) have decided that Hymasa is too hard, so they've created ride arounds for all the technically difficult parts.

    My recommendation: if you haven't ridden in Moab before, it's best to start on something you think will be easy technically and fitness/length wise and work your way up. Mag 7 to Portal is something like 4-5 hours, right? I've never done Portal because I'm scared of the skinny, fall-off-and-die part. Therefore, when I get to the bottom of Mag 7, I turn around and climb back to the top, which is a hard climb for me, and it gets steeper and steeper as you get near the trailhead. That takes me ~3.5 hours. Not recommended on weekends: some riders will be bombing down the trail at you going 25mph!

    At the bottom of Mag 7, you can also ditch out to some jeep roads and eventually link up with Gemini Bridges road, which will dump you out onto Highway 191 and the bike path, which you can ride back into town. If you do that, a good option is to turn off the bike path and duck into the Brand Trails and ride Sidewinder towards town until it links up with the bike path.
    Last edited by happyriding; 1 Week Ago at 08:24 PM.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyriding View Post
    If you are not a highly fit cyclist(and even if you are), everything out at the Brand trails, which is closer than Mag 7 will be great too. I ride the Brand Trails a couple of times a week when I'm in Moab--in addition to Mag 7--and my favorites are Rockin' A and Circle O, which are slickrock trails that will beat you up on a hard tail. You can do the loop:

    Code:
    Lazy EZ(beginner)->
    Deadman's(intermediate)->
    Rockin A(beginner/intermediate)->
    Circle O(beginner/intermediate)->
    North 40(beginner/intermediate)
    That loop takes me ~2-2.5 hours, and it has a lot of variation from smooth dirt to technical rock moves, so you get it all, and at any point it's easy to ditch back to the parking lot. To the West of the Brand trails you can see into Arches National Park, and to the South you can see the grand sweep of the desert floor as it rises up to the red rock buttresses of Porcupine Rim with the snow covered La Sal mountains in the background.

    A newer area is Navaho Rocks, which is also a great beginner/intermediate trail system. I park at the first parking lot on Highway 313(the highway you take to Mag 7), then I ride across the highway to the start of:

    Code:
    Rocky Tops->
    Coney Island(hard, short climbs)->
    Big Lonely->
    Big Mesa(awesome)->
    Ramblin->
    first parking lot
    That takes me about ~2.5-3 hours.

    If you like technical challenges, in the Amasa Back area:

    Code:
    Amasa Back->
    HyMasa->
    top of Captain Ahab->
    Amasa Back
    That one probably won't kill you, although there are other trails in the system that will try to. There are lots of hard technical moves on Captain Ahab, and even Hymasa is technically and physically challenging for me--I've never done it with no dabs. Although, enough people(racers?) have decided that Hymasa is too hard, so they've created ride arounds for all the technically difficult parts.

    My recommendation: if you haven't ridden in Moab before, it's best to start on something you think will be easy technically and fitness/length wise and work your way up. Mag 7 to Portal is something like 4-5 hours, right? I've never done Portal because I'm scared of the skinny, fall-off-and-die part. Therefore, when I get to the bottom of Mag 7, I turn around and climb back to the top, which is a hard climb for me, and it gets steeper and steeper as you get near the trailhead. That takes me ~3.5 hours. Not recommended on weekends: some riders will be bombing down the trail at you going 25mph!

    At the bottom of Mag 7, you can also ditch out to some jeep roads and eventually link up with Gemini Bridges road, which will dump you out on Highway 191 and the bike path, which you can ride back into town. If you do that, a good option is to duck into the Brand Trails and ride Sidewinder towards town until it links up with the bike path.
    Hey happyriding thanks for the tips. I did look at the brand trails and like with so many others they look awesome. Again I have one day, five hours to ride. With this time constraint I have to be picky. There is complete understanding here that to ride Moab trails you should be experienced. Yes I have never rode these trails so I can only assume what they will put me through. I have done reading and watched videos of many tails to get some perspective and that is where I come from. Considering all of this I keep coming back to trying to pick the ultimate ride. I have considered many safeguards for this and I still keep coming back to Mag7. I do like the idea that if the trail kicks my ass that I can bail on the jeep roads and head back to 191.

    One question about the trail. When I come out of portal at the Jaycee CG on 279 I can ride this back to town. Is there a short cut? I saw a video of riders crossing the river on a bike bridge. Where is that? Is the only way 279>191>over river>town?

    Thanks
    Pat

  35. #35
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    ^ I'ts a short ride back to town and basically all down hill to boot. The bridge you are seeing I'm guessing is Lyons Park at the edge of town. No short cut really, you'll have to follow the Colorado out to the main road.
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