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Thread: Moab help

  1. #1
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    Moab help

    Hi All-
    I need some help planning a ride in Moab in early July. Family of four- Intermediate dad and 2 sons, advanced beginner wife. We have time for one ride, normally we ride Pisgah in NC. Wife was originally looking at Gemini Bridges, but it looks a little too tame from what I've seen online- looking for more of a trail experience, but nothing too gnar. Also need to rent bikes.
    Any help/ advice appreciated. Thanks!
    Tim

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    Look into the Navajo Rocks area. I took my intermediate level wife there and she was able to ride most of it. She struggled on some of the punchy climbs, but that's about it. Good variety there too.

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    I've taken some of the kids from my high school team on the upper parts of Mag 7. You can make a 16ish mile loop out of it. It'll be challenging but fun and with great views. Do Bull Run down and Getaway back up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silentfoe View Post
    I've taken some of the kids from my high school team on the upper parts of Mag 7. You can make a 16ish mile loop out of it. It'll be challenging but fun and with great views. Do Bull Run down and Getaway back up.

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    That's kind of what I'm looking at. Is there a way to connect it back in to town?

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    It's going to be hotter than hades in July so go early and carry lots of water.

    Another area to look at is Moab brand trails (Bar M). Lots of variety there and easily rideable to/from town.

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    Quote Originally Posted by timdvm View Post
    That's kind of what I'm looking at. Is there a way to connect it back in to town?
    No, but it's any easy loop. Park at the top, just off the highway.

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  7. #7
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    July!??

    If you are just passing through and it's either ride in Moab or nothing, then by all means ride in Moab.

    If you are going out of your way to hit Moab in July... don't. Or at least plan on riding at the crack of dawn (or at night) and taking a ton of water/planning on being extremely hot.

    -Walt

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    Yeah, be aware of what you're getting yourself into if you're going to ride Moab in July.

    Moab July Weather 2017 - AccuWeather Forecast for UT 84532

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    Navajo Rocks and upper Mag 7 are nice areas and just a little higher up so maybe a couple of degrees cooler.
    Navajo Rocks: Navajo Rocks bike trail system near Moab Utah
    Dead Horse Point is at 6000 feet, so again, a couple of degrees cooler and a bit easier: Dead Horse Point (Intrepid Trail System)
    If you haven't ridden in the desert, don't wait until you are thirsty to drink! Hydration is huge, partly because you won't feel like you're sweating the way you do back east. If you drink coffee, cut back or drink 50% decaf in the morning. Believe me, it helps. Like others have said, early morning, late evening.

  10. #10
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    Brand Trails / Bar M are 9 miles north of town and have something for everyone. Lots of slick rock to play on in the back, mostly Circle O for beginners. Rockin' A is a bouncy.

    One of my favorite intermediate trails is the new Chisholm Trail off Hwy 313, the road to Canyonlands. It connects the Horsethief trails to the Navajo Rocks trails. I suggest parking at the middle Navajo Rocks TH and riding up 313 to the top of Chisholm, about 6 miles as I recall, easy climb with a wide shoulder for bikes, then descend Chisholm. There are other more technical routes to the top but pass on them on this trip.

    If all is going well you can get to the TH by riding the Big Lonely and Big Mesa trails or bailout and drop down the highway if your group is getting tired. Really some good options here. Your wife will walk many places but the views and various conditions are amazing! There are many bailout points to the highway and it will be all downhill back to the vehicle.

    There is some riding on Big Lonely and Big Mesa that will blow you away! Big slick rock descents! Great for lower intermediates and up. Most of the tread is X/C.

    There are four bike shops in town with rental bikes. There is a new one but I don't know if they have bikes yet. If you have a favorite bike manufacturer then find a shop that rents them. I prefer Moab Cyclery for great service. They have Specialized and Santa Cruz. I had a couple of bad experiences at Poison Spider. I've heard lots of good things about Chili Pepper but haven't used them for guests to rent bikes.

    Be on the trails just after dawn and off by 11 AM or so. After that explore the parks. While the temp may "only" be 105F in town those rocks will bake you like a reflector oven. Evening rides can work out sometimes. As you may have figured out from the above comments most of us regulars don't ride Moab in the summer :-) I've rode during the summer because guests could only visit then but spring and fall are the high times for MTB. I spend about 2 months a year riding there lately and have been there every year for 15 years.
    MTB blog for US West trails: http://jimprestonmtb.com. Trail analysis videos, bike and component reviews, other stuff.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    July!??

    If you are just passing through and it's either ride in Moab or nothing, then by all means ride in Moab.

    If you are going out of your way to hit Moab in July... don't. Or at least plan on riding at the crack of dawn (or at night) and taking a ton of water/planning on being extremely hot.

    -Walt
    Yeah, July.
    Once in a lifetime opportunity, passing through on a road trip tour of the Southwest.
    We're planning on riding at dawn for a few hours, and a downhill shuttle ride would be ideal.
    We absolutely have respect for the heat and the need for water.
    Please keep the suggestions coming.
    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by timdvm View Post
    We're planning on riding at dawn for a few hours, and a downhill shuttle ride would be ideal.
    Tim
    The shuttles will only bring you to trails your family would struggle on. Those aren't the trails for a first time family ride on big rocks.

    Another intermediate option is Deadhorse Point State Park. Mostly flat terrain with great views and the park road runs through the middle of the trail system as a bail-out. A fair amount of sand to get through in places and I find that frustrating, except after a rain.

    Best to choose either the Brand Trails which has shorter rides but something for everyone or Chisholm and Navajo Rocks for a more epic adventure but many bail out points to the highway and easy ride down to your vehicle.

    For Chisholm you may be able to get a shuttle company to shuttle you from the lower TH to the top but $$$$. Or drop the family at the top and they hang around until you bike up from below. Or meet someone at the TH to shuttle you back to your family. Easy to meet people in Moab. Or hitchhike but I haven't tried that in decades.

    Your wife will probably be fine on Chisholm but will walk a lot of Big Lonely and Big Mesa. She will be blown away by the slick rock rides and the views! There are low intermediate slick rock descents on Big Lonely to die for. The giant red cliffs above you on Big Mesa are awesome! For all of you this would be an achievable epic adventure but push your limits at times.

    There are other low intermediate / beginner trails with upper intermediate nearby such as some of the trails in the Klondike Bluff area and Klonzo. They are not to be avoided but we are trying to help you narrow your options because until you ride this stuff a few times you wouldn't have a clue which to choose.

    Moab Mountain Biking Trails - Moab mountain bike trail information and maps.

    Utah Mountain Biking - Trails, Information, Repairs
    MTB blog for US West trails: http://jimprestonmtb.com. Trail analysis videos, bike and component reviews, other stuff.

  13. #13
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    The beginning of July will be hot so if you do the trails at Navajo Rocks or Horsethief Mesa they will be about 7-10 degrees cooler. As mentioned, Chisholm is a good trail to break in on. You can start at the lower end and ride up until you think you've had enough and then it's pretty much an easy pedal back down. There is abundant shade on this trail for breaks and other easy trails around the campground near the top. I wouldn't even think of a shuttle as the ride up is pretty gradual and flowy.

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    OP, if you give us an idea of where you're coming from/going to we might be able to suggest something more appropriate for July riding than Moab.

    -Walt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    OP, if you give us an idea of where you're coming from/going to we might be able to suggest something more appropriate for July riding than Moab.

    -Walt
    At that point we'll be working our way down from Colo. to South Rim of Grand Canyon, stopping at Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, +/- Zion along the way.
    Thanks again to everyone for all the advice- I'm used to riding the temperate rain forest of Western North Carolina.

    The reason I asked about a shuttle is that we'll be driving a rental car- so no way to transport the bikes to a trailhead driving ourselves.
    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by SAM313 View Post
    There is abundant shade on this trail for breaks ...
    Yeah, nice to chill out under towering oaks and pines.

    :-)

    Mid-day there is enough shade for lizards.
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    I don't know how old your kids are but I'll reinforce a couple of points.

    Kids react to heat much differently than adults, and generally do not handle it as well. I've twice seen kids collapse due to heat in Moab, one was 11 the other 13. You may be used to NC heat, but it is completely different than the desert blast furnace. I lived on the West Coast of Florida for six years and I would much rather ride through the worst of that, than anytime after 11 AM in July in Moab.

    There are some great trails in the La Sals right outside of Moab where the afternoon temps will be in the 70's instead of 110. I'd highly recommend you find one of those. Just be aware of afternoon thunderstorms.

    You can ride Bar-M or Dead Horse or any number of desert trails but you *must* be off the trail by 11 AM on a normal day.

    Also, you need to bathe in sunsceen. The sun is brutal in summer. I had friends from Georgia who thought they were tanned up and didn't need sunscreen, who ended up in the ER in Moab with major sunburn.

    If you happen to be in Moab on July 4, they have a great fireworks show. Also, the runoff is good this year, and a raft trip is great fun.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by timdvm View Post

    The reason I asked about a shuttle is that we'll be driving a rental car- so no way to transport the bikes to a trailhead driving ourselves.
    Tim
    The bike shops have shuttles to the Brand Trails and you can ride back into town on the paved "old highway" bike trail. All downhill or flat, pretty nice ride actually, but about 7 - 9 miles depending on which bike shop.

    I see tour shuttles all the time at Navajo Rocks so maybe checkout the tour companies. Moab Cyclery and I think Chili Pepper have tour services. Poison Spider has changed their approach to shuttling and I'm not sure what they are doing now. They have shuttles but not sure about a tour company.

    Contact Porcupine Shuttle and ask what they are up to. They moved to the new bike shop because Poison Spider ended the long relationship, I think so PS could do their own shuttles.

    I love the Western Spirit folks so you may want to contact them for advice. They do lots of tours but I don't recall seeing them to short ones.
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    Quote Originally Posted by honkinunit View Post
    I don't know how old your kids are but I'll reinforce a couple of points.

    Kids react to heat much differently than adults, and generally do not handle it as well. I've twice seen kids collapse due to heat in Moab, one was 11 the other 13. You may be used to NC heat, but it is completely different than the desert blast furnace. I lived on the West Coast of Florida for six years and I would much rather ride through the worst of that, than anytime after 11 AM in July in Moab.

    There are some great trails in the La Sals right outside of Moab where the afternoon temps will be in the 70's instead of 110. I'd highly recommend you find one of those. Just be aware of afternoon thunderstorms.

    You can ride Bar-M or Dead Horse or any number of desert trails but you *must* be off the trail by 11 AM on a normal day.

    Also, you need to bathe in sunsceen. The sun is brutal in summer. I had friends from Georgia who thought they were tanned up and didn't need sunscreen, who ended up in the ER in Moab with major sunburn.

    If you happen to be in Moab on July 4, they have a great fireworks show. Also, the runoff is good this year, and a raft trip is great fun.
    Wow honkinunit! You have the best argument I've ever seen for getting off the trails by 11 AM. Great contribution!
    MTB blog for US West trails: http://jimprestonmtb.com. Trail analysis videos, bike and component reviews, other stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmpreston View Post
    The bike shops have shuttles to the Brand Trails and you can ride back into town on the paved "old highway" bike trail. All downhill or flat, pretty nice ride actually, but about 7 - 9 miles depending on which bike shop.
    What is the ride down the paved trail from Brands trails like? Is it all downhill? Is it reasonable to ride a few hours in Brands in the morning, then ride back into town? Say maybe on the trails from 8-11, then ride back in?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmpreston View Post
    Wow honkinunit! You have the best argument I've ever seen for getting off the trails by 11 AM. Great contribution!
    Trying to figure out if this is sarcasm......

  22. #22
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    Does your entire family desperately want to ride in Moab, no matter what? Like, the kids are begging you and practicing waking up at 4am?

    Or do *you* want to ride? Because if it's just you, drop the kids off at the pool or send them on a half-day raft trip and go get heatstroke on your own. Rallying the whole crew for a predawn start to avoid the worst of the death-heat (and spending a ton of money on rental bikes in the process) is not what most families want to do on vacation.

    Everyone here is telling you that this is a bad idea. Come back to Moab in the fall, or next year in the spring.

    You are welcome to ignore us, of course.

    -Walt

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by timdvm View Post
    What is the ride down the paved trail from Brands trails like? Is it all downhill? Is it reasonable to ride a few hours in Brands in the morning, then ride back into town? Say maybe on the trails from 8-11, then ride back in?
    Yes, it is not only an easy ride back to town but hugely scenic. Also Rusty Spur trail available to ride for a bit more single track instead of the paved path.

    It is downhill from the south end of the Brand Trails to the entrance to Arches NP. After that flat. It is a nice family ride.

    If you have a few extra bucks consider a tour guide with shuttle. Then when it heats up you get shuttled back to town. Also the guide can give instructions how to enjoy the rocks. They do the Brand Trails and Navajo Rocks, among others, and can adjust your ride based on how you folks are doing (surviving). Some like Western Spirit have the bikes also.

    No, I was not being sarcastic about honkinunit's comment. I see lots of warnings on this forum but he delivered real meat instead of just opinion and perception. We don't see enough of that. Usually I'm sarcastic though.

    I understand why you have to do your SW trip in the summer. I've done that with guests who have kids. Moab is ridable in the summer and a lot of fun, if your family gets out of bed early and you follow the advice here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmpreston View Post
    Yes, it is not only an easy ride back to town but hugely scenic. Also Rusty Spur trail available to ride for a bit more single track instead of the paved path.

    It is downhill from the south end of the Brand Trails to the entrance to Arches NP. After that flat. It is a nice family ride.


    Rusty Spur loops on top from Bar-M and then you hook up with Sidewinder on the way down. Sidewinder is a genuinely fun little singletrack that parallels the paved bike path for about half the way down to Arches.

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    I'm starting to get the idea y'all think this is a bad idea....

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    Quote Originally Posted by timdvm View Post
    I'm starting to get the idea y'all think this is a bad idea....
    The only real issue is getting your family out of bed around dawn and making sure you are off the trails by 11:00 AM. If you can do that you'll be fine. The average MTBer only rides about 4 hours so plenty of time for say 10 - 12 miles of riding.
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    Rather than make a new thread I hope you don't mind me asking here... I'm doing a similar trip this July and had planned on doing the whole enchilada solo. Is that really such a terrible idea? The choices are ride it mid-July in 2017 or cross my fingers that I'll ride it before 2040 (or ever). I highly doubt I get back out there in less than ten years.

    Can I suffer through or is it just plain dumb to even bother trying?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    Rather than make a new thread I hope you don't mind me asking here... I'm doing a similar trip this July and had planned on doing the whole enchilada solo. Is that really such a terrible idea? The choices are ride it mid-July in 2017 or cross my fingers that I'll ride it before 2040 (or ever). I highly doubt I get back out there in less than ten years.

    Can I suffer through or is it just plain dumb to even bother trying?
    This depends a lot on your ability and stamina. I haven't rode it in the middle of summer but my understanding is that there are far less riders than the spring and fall. You may be very alone for a while.

    If you get hurt lower down, say UPS and below, you would have to survive the heat. I've had decent cell reception from ATT on much of the trails of TWE but not everywhere. Verizon may be better. Don't count on rescue.

    While TWE is mostly a descent to the Colorado River it does take a lot of energy. Add to that the heat on the lower trails and you would have to have super stamina and fitness.

    There are bailouts to Sands Flat Road from several points on UPS and LPS and it is a long coast back to town. Beautiful ride and easy but still, hot.

    If you really want to do this and you are sure you are fit enough then carry an umbrella, a tarp or space blanket with 50' of nylon line to make a sun shade between the junipers, plenty of those, lots of salt pills, and 3 liters of water, or more. Know the signs of sunstroke and heatstroke and be prepared to deal with it. Also a headlamp with new batteries to self-rescue at night.

    Salt pills can make a big difference in your stamina. We used them in construction work in California and I've used them when feeling my energy drop off backpacking and MTB. You'll get an energy lift in about 20 minutes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    Rather than make a new thread I hope you don't mind me asking here... I'm doing a similar trip this July and had planned on doing the whole enchilada solo. Is that really such a terrible idea? The choices are ride it mid-July in 2017 or cross my fingers that I'll ride it before 2040 (or ever). I highly doubt I get back out there in less than ten years.

    Can I suffer through or is it just plain dumb to even bother trying?
    You are going to have to carry gallon of water. A gallon. Not 100oz, a gallon. You won't hit the bad heat until the last half. Don't forget that you have to do the last five miles back to town on the road, in the heat.

    If you are taking a shuttle up there, it takes about an hour and you'll want to be drinking fluids on the way up, so keep that in mind, too.

    It is doable because it starts high up and you won't be in the heat the entire time, and there are no sustained, sun-exposed climbs. Also, these days, the route is impossible to miss, because of signs and even fences. They did all of that because they had a couple of people die of dehydration out there by making wrong turns.

    Take a jacket in case of thunderstorms. Be sure you are totally hydrated from the start. Wear tons of sunscreen and reapply often.

  30. #30
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    Awesome guys, glad to hear it's not completely crazy.

    I have done the Shenandoah Mountain 100 the last two years and plan to do it again this year... I'm very familiar with long, backcountry rides and the preparation required to make self-rescue possible if necessary. I will definitely be doing a shuttle and will make sure to chug water the whole way up, as well as carrying a boatload. I may even see if I can drive up the day before and drop a cache somewhere to be safe.

    Thanks a ton, I really want to get to do this ride while I'm out there and I know I can suffer a bit to make it happen... Just wanted to make sure it wasn't beyond the suffering a mortal should attempt to endure.

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    OP:
    If you happen to get to the North Rim of the GC, there is riding over there at higher elevations, above 7000'. It'll still be hot, but nothing like Moab.
    https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/339...w-rim-trail-10

  32. #32
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    I agree with others who urge caution here. Moab is absolutely awesome, but July? With kids? There is a member here who lost a daughter (15, I believe) to dehydration during a family ride in June a few years back. This was an experienced family of cyclists, too.

    If you must, I agree with the Mag 7 suggestion. Park up top and the trails tend to have bail out points to get you quickly back to your car, if necessary.
    Why Johnny Ringo, you look like someone just walked over your grave.

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    I just got back from Moab yesterday after an aborted (due to heat) White Rim trip. Highs of ~97, which is cooler than it's likely to be in a month!

    I will say that the areas above town are a lot cooler than in town, and I would recommend Horsethief/Navajo Rocks/upper Mag 7 (which intertwine) over the Brand trails which are 1000+ feet lower. I would also not recommend doing the shuttled one-way Mag 7 to the lower Gemini Bridges lower trailhead, because ending with the Gooney Bird climb while it's hot will be no fun. We enjoyed these trails over the past few days but ended our rides at 11am. In July it will be even more important to ride early.

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    Alright- I think I'm going to scrap the family ride, and try to get out myself early one morning. Thanks for everyone's input.

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    Quote Originally Posted by timdvm View Post
    Alright- I think I'm going to scrap the family ride, and try to get out myself early one morning. Thanks for everyone's input.
    Well, you know your family better than us but they would have fun for a couple of hours and maybe want to return in the spring or fall sometime. At the back (east side) of the Brand Trails is a lot of fun slick rock for them to play around on and they can ride all of Bar M which is a family ride with a few rocks and ledges here and there to add interest. For a bit more technical then Lazy and EZ are great fun! Ride those counter-clockwise.

    Then coast downhill on the bike path to the entrance to Arches, fun and very scenic, and pedal a couple of miles back into town.

    So get out there at 7 and back in town by 10. Most likely no deaths :-)

    They'll probably be left hungry for more.

    Maybe there are half day bike rentals.

    @ilanarama tried a death ride on the White Rim Trail. I expected to hear that buzzards were picking on their quivering bodies. Good they bailed out in about 24 hours. There is just no escape out there from the heat. Riding Brand Trails you won't have the same experience.
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    [QUOTE=TheDwayyo;13202222]Awesome guys, glad to hear it's not completely crazy.




    Did this ride last Friday, made 100oz's last until the turn on to 191, about 2 miles before the bike shop.
    Whole enchilada shuttles was great, the rest of my group took the last bail to sand flats, had I known what the next few miles held in store I may have joined them.
    The final couple miles of single track almost made the previous jeep road worth it;0)

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    Just did the same trip only Vegas to SLC, I would drop one of the other choices before Zion, it was our favorite park of the Big 5.

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    It might be a good idea to pick a ride that has the uphill section of the ride at the beginning of the ride. That way it will be downhill back to you vehicle. You can certainly do that in the Navajo Rocks Area.

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    ..........................

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    ..........................
    If the entire family were really wanting to ride in Moab, and if they were willing/able to get out early enough, wouldn't anyone send them to the Slickrock Trail? Even the practice loop for the advanced beginner if she wanted to bail early?
    While I taught my wife to MTB on the Slick Rock Trail about 15 years ago I would not recommend it to beginners or low intermediates. They would have to hike the bike a lot even on the practice loop. Just the practice loop is a big adventure for an intermediate who isn't used to that terrain.

    Also, it gets really hot there. I ran out of salt in my body on the backside and barely made it back to the parking lot on a hot day. Almost called for rescue. Scary. I got back to the trailhead by dreaming of Moab Brewery :-)

    The area before the practice loop turnoff is fun for noobs though.
    MTB blog for US West trails: http://jimprestonmtb.com. Trail analysis videos, bike and component reviews, other stuff.

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