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Local Secret Series: 5 Best Mountain Bike Trails in Moab

Joel Smith

Moab, Moab, Moab…just saying those words gets the adrenaline flowing for mountain bikers. Moab has really become one of the major Meccas for mountain biking.

Is it really only ten years ago that Moab was mostly just for riding Slickrock and a few other relatively sandy XC trails?

Needless to say, that’s not the Moab of today. Like most mountain bike destinations, a trail building spree has made it one of the top places to ride. And nowadays, with so many options, it’s difficult to pick the 5 best trails in Moab.

With that said, we did our best.

1. The Magnificent 7

Like the name suggests, The Magnificent 7 trails are part of network that links the upper and lower ends of Gemini Bridges Road.

The trails can be ridden as a point-to-point with a shuttle, connected together in different loops, or ridden together into one pretty awe-inspiring traverse.

The trails within the Mag 7 are called Bull Run, Arth’s Corner, Little Canyon, Gold Bar Rim Golden Spike, Poison Spider, Portal and Getaway.

This last trail segment, Getaway, is really our favorite part of Mag 7.

Getaway isn’t easy, but we mean that in the best possible way. It has just the right amount of downhill pitch to keep your flow up and just enough technical terrain to keep you off the brakes.

The result is a trail that is both technically and physically engaging while also being in some ways relaxing (if there is such a thing).

2. Captain Ahab

A trip to Moab would not be complete without putting tires on Captain Ahab. Next to the Porcupine Rim trail, it’s no doubt the most talked-about trail in Moab. Some would even say it’s the crowning jewel of new Moab trail-building system.

Fair warning — it’s also one of the area’s most technical trails, with numerous drops and steep technical sections, some with little obvious warning. There are also alternative lines throughout, but these are not go-arounds.

Secondary lines usually lead to either bigger drops or sections that requires trials-style bike hopping to clean.

At the same time, don’t be dissuaded from riding Captain Ahab by the above description. The lower half of the trails drops into tight single-track above Kane Creek that has good flow, and little in the way of climbing. And the final stretch drops down through a rock garden that is the darling of YouTube.

3. Gold Bar Rim

Gold Bar Rim used to be a nameless renegade trail. But after it was re-routed in spots (to reduce the cliff exposure), it was added to the network of Moab trails, and follows gold marks painted on the rocks.

The cool thing about Gold Bar — especially if you’ve just come off a trail like Ahab — is that everything is ride-able. Constant technical ups and downs and routes through different rock lines keep your attention high, and there is still a bit of exposure to stay diligent of.

This is also a good ride to take your less technical-minded friends on. Yes, they might end up walking a few sections, but they’ll still enjoy the challenges the trail has to offer.

4. Alaska

Alaska is a relatively new trail in Moab, and is also the most northern trail of the Klondike Bluffs trail network. It’s one of the few trails that is enjoyable ridden IN either direction, but I think it’s more fun descending Alaska.

The first mile or so is rolling singletrack that winds around the rocky outer cropping of rocks above Arches National Park’s Salt Valley. That’s really what makes Alaska one of our favorites — the ridge that overlooks the canyon and the sandstone fins beyond is awe inspiring.

mountain biking

There’s also some of Moab’s best slick-rock riding on Alaska. The trail even features a few natural rock berms that are unlike anything you’ve seen before.

There are a few other cool trails that connect to Alaska, most notably the Homer and Nome, which makes for many riding options if you’re out North. The full Alaska trail itself finishes on the Mega Step section, which is one of the bumpier slick-rock sections in Moab, and is super fun at speed.

5. The Whole Enchilada

Let me start by telling you The Whole Enchilada in Moab is a big ride.

Even with a shuttle to the top, the ride is over 35 miles. And while the shuttle version is mostly downhill, it’s not easy descending.

There are a few fairly significant climbs, and the descents are technical enough to wear you down pretty fast.

And weather can be a factor too, especially in the shoulder seasons when we recommend riding the Enchilada.

(Note: With the advent of commercial shuttle companies in Moab, peak season and holidays can bring surprisingly large crowds to the trail).

The trail itself starts on an alpine pass above tree line and carves its the way down to the sandstone canyons of the Colorado River. Along the way, the Whole Enchilada covers every type of riding and scenery that Moab has to offer.

The Whole Enchilada is technically a complete loop that starts in town, involving many miles of paved road. It returns all the way back to town, but us mortals can’t imagine doing that climb.

Even though we ‘re typically opposed to shuttling, riding the Whole Enchilada basically requires doing so. We highly recommend using one of the many local shuttle companies because getting to the top requires a fair amount of navigating.

mountain bike bars on overlook

Craving more locals-favorite trails? Check out our 5 favorite mountain bike trails along the Front Range of Colorado »

 

Alchemy’s Joel Smith has been riding mountain bikes for over 35 years. Starting out in the dirt on a converted Laguna-brand cruiser in the mid-1980s, his immediate love of the sport turned into a lifelong career. Smith raced both XC and DH in the 1990s (in the now defunct NORBA National Series) and has worked on nearly every aspect of bike development over his nearly 30-year long career.

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