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Moab - A First Timer's Tale

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Moab - A First Timer\'s Tale

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Utah, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 38.57390°N / 109.536°W

Date Ridden: Apr 12, 2008 12:00 am

Activities: Cross Country, Downhill, Mountain

Season: Spring


Page By: Steady Grind

Created/Edited: Apr 15, 2008 / Feb 17, 2012

Object ID: 266160

Hits: 5049 

Page Score: 77.48%  - 8 Votes 

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On the Way....April 10th

I had to put the trip off a day for two reasons...first, I was in the middle of closing on a new house and that never happens on schedule and second, we were hoping that the weather would improve if we waited one more day. It turned out that waiting a day paid off in regards to weather!

We were on the road by 9:30 in the morning and made a mockery of the 8 hours and 45 minutes that Google Maps told me it would take to get to Moab. So, 7 hours and 25 minutes later, we pulled into Moab.

Our campsite....

We had a reservation at a certain campground in town...and when we found it, we quickly decided that there was a reason that the place was the cheapest one in town (I won't use any names). We scooted out of there and headed back closer to the center of town to the Canyonlands Campground where we got a nice tent site and set up camp.

The first night....

It was cold. Real cold. I brought an air mattress, a thermarest, and my summertime lightweight sleeping bag. My buddy was using my winter sleeping bag that I acquired from the Marine Corps and we decided to put the extra summer bag in the tent in between us and whoever got cold first got to double up with that bag. I won...and it only took 15 minutes. It was down around 27 degrees that night. Turned out that camping in a tent in the middle of town isn't the best idea for a light sleeper either...the jeepwash next door was running until 11:00 at night and the street was a little noisy for my liking! Oh well.......I get to ride in the morning!

Our plan was to start easy with Sovereign Trail, then ride the more strenuous Slickrock the next day, and finish with the mostly downhill Porcupine Rim on the third day since our legs would be getting tired.

Sovereign Trail....April 11th

Sovereign Singletrack
We got up in the morning and made a little fire, a pot of coffee, and had a pretty weak breakfast. It was still pretty cold, but its the desert right..."It'll warm up." I thought. I got dressed in shorts w/o leg warmers and just my nice new mbpost.com jersey. Like an idiot I didn't even throw my long sleeve or leg warmers into the pickup before we left for the trailhead.

It was partly cloudy and a very cold breeze was blowing...but otherwise it was a nice day. As long as I kept the heart rate up I stayed warm enough to not be miserable! 
Sovereign Singletrack

We rode the trail from south to north. Starting at the trailhead located on Willow Springs Road, we rode north toward the slickrock area and Dalton Well Road. Immediately I could tell that the trail had lived up to its classification as a Classic Moab Trail. We wound our way through sand, slickrock, and cactus stopping on a very regular basis for photo ops. Coming from the mountains of Montana and Idaho, I was awestruck by the scenery that was totally alien to us.

The trail was an easy ride on the technical and physical level with very few ups and downs and the few steep climbs that are included in the trail are short enough to be considered easy. Once we got to the slickrock, my buddy didn't click out of his pedal in time and he fell over...it was the first fall of the trip!
Sovereign Trail Slickrock

We rode up the slickrock and after looking at the map, I think we may have accidentally crossed the border into Arches National Park for a short distance. Oops! Riding up the slickrock we had a nasty cold headwind...and I saw about 10 little flurries of snow blow by my face. Yes, I was kicking myself for not wearing long sleeves and leg warmers!
Sovereign Trail Slickrock

While at the slickrock, we played around for a while then turned around and headed back the way that we came back to my pickup at the trailhead. We could have ridden in a loop, but that would have included riding on some gravel road and ATV trail...we figured if the singletrack was so fun in one direction, it'll be just as fun in the other direction. We were right!
Arches Ntl. Park Border

Sixteen miles and 3 hours later, we were back at the pickup with the heater on! Lots of photo breaks and a nice eeeaaasssyyy pace made this into a longer ride.

That night, we just re-fueled for the next day and tried to get a little better sleep...which didn't happen when Pete and Re-Pete (that's what we named them) moved in to the tent site next to us. They showed up at 10:00 and the two fat shits sat up until 12:30 talking...loudly. We weren't fond of Pete and Re-Pete.

Slickrock Bike Trail....April 12th

SlickRock Bike Trail
Slickrock Bike Trail
We were a little nervous arout riding this trail after reading in a trail guide about how technical and physically demanding it was. I was confident in my technical skills, but wasn't sure about my friend who hasn't been riding as long as I have. I figured we'd ride the practice loop and if that was too much for him, he could take the pickup and go find another trail or something.

Turned out that the we didn't find the trail to be nearly as technical as we had expected. Yes, the short steeps were tough, but as long as you have the power in your legs to make it up them, your pretty much good to go. He definitely took some of the obstacles slower than I did and he walked several of them, but he was certainly able to ride the trail.

After riding the practice loop, we headed off on the trail to where the 4X4 trail crossed the bike trail where we sat for a while and watched some jeeps climb a rock that didn't look possible. After watching that, we rode on and chose to go the "Easy Way" to the left.  
Slickrock Bike Trail
While I don't quite understand how one way can be much easier than the other...they both start and end in the same place. Anyway......

We took almost every scenic offshoot from the main trail to include the white dots that take you to Mountain View Cave.  
Mountain View Cave
It wasn't very deep, but the view from the back of the cave was very impressive and worth the climb up to the cave.

The rollercoaster ride of the trail was phenomenal and every short steep that I climbed amazed me that the traction allowed me to make it up to the top without spinning out.  
Slickrock Bike Trail
Its really impressive to be riding so far forward on your bike that your waist is touching your handlebars as you pedal!

Slickrock Bike Trail
The scenery along the rim that looks over the Colorado River at the northernmost point of the trail was spectacular. Don't go to the edge if you don't like heights! 
Colorado River

About 3/4 of the way through the trail, the short steeps were starting to take a toll on my legs and the climbs were gettin a little more difficult! Just before the end, I felt like a got a second wind and cruised up the last few hills before I got back to where the practice loop hooks back into the trail...before I knew it, the ride was over.

With the practice loop, all the scenic offshoots, photo breaks, and several snack stops, we finished the ride in about 14 miles and 4.5 hours. The after ride beer was well deserved and tasted AMAZING (Big Sky Brewery - Honey Ale).

That night, we re-fueled with a burger and then hung out the rest of the evening with a couple girls that moved in a couple tent sites down. They were pretty cool...they made us drinks, smores, and cooked us some dinner. The only downfall was that they wanted to go to the bar (Woody's)...and all I wanted to do was go to sleep! But, you can't say no to something like that. By 12:30 I finally got to bed with a little worry in my mind about being so tired for the next days ride.

Porcupine Rim Trail....April 13th

It was finally warm enough to sleep in until the sun came up! I got up around 7:30, made some coffee and had some breakfast...I could definitely tell I had been at the bar the night before and I was hoping that it wouldn't take away from the ride that day.

We caught the Coyote Shuttle's pink VW van at 9:00 in the morning at Moab Cycles. Fifteen dollars took us all the way up to the upper LPS Trail which cut out the first 3 or 4 mile climb on the typical Porcupine Rim route. The LPS trail is all single track with one hike a bike section that was still muddy and icy...Of course I was the one who slipped and fell...and slid in the mud for about 30 feet. Yes, I was pissed.
Castle Valley & my Bike!

After about 2 to 3 miles of fun singletrack on the LPS Trail with great views of Castle Valley, we intersected with Porcupine Rim Trial where those who ride up from the stock tanks reach the top of their climb.  
Castle Valley
From there, the trail opened up and became rocky and loose. This reminded me of a lot of the mountain trails that I was used to in Montana and Idaho. Lots of ledges and steps, rocks and small sections of sand. It was great. There was more pedaling than I was expecting, but still not a lot...and I wasn't complaining! 
Porcupine Rim Trail

The jeep road was a fun, fast ride with a few fairly technical climbs. Shortly before the jeep trail ended and the single track began, we came across a guy who face planted into some slickrock. Left a nice bit of blood on the rock, but other than a cut above his eye, a scratch on his chin, and a fracture to his pride, he was doing just fine. 
Porcupine Rim

The singletrack was a blast for the first mile or so...then it got much more technical and required a lot of getting off and walking. The majority of the singletrack is rideable, but I did have to get off and carry my bike up or down several sections.
Porcupine Rim Singletrack

Finally, we were back down to the Colorado River and basked in the sun for a few minutes before heading back down the highway toward Moab.

Again, we took our time so about 3.5 hours and 20 miles later, we were back at our campsite. A quick bite and a little discussion and we decided to drive back to Boise that afternoon rather than sleeping in that noisy campground another night.

In Summary...and Lessons Learned

Three days of riding, 50 miles, lots of pictures, and not a single night of good sleep...not a bad trip! Most amazingly, I didn't injure myself at all! This is very unusual for me...I'm usually the one bleeding! Maybe I'm getting better...???...

Our plan to start easy and end with a downhill turned out perfectly for our skill and physical levels. If I would have stayed for another day of riding, my legs would have objected, but the way we planned and rode the three days couldn't have been better.

We rode three classic Moab trails and had a great time. I've already decided that from now on, I will be making a spring and a fall trip every year. I've also learned that I will either stay out of town on some public land where it'll be quiet, or spring for a hotel room next time. I also want to go back and ride these same trails at a little faster pace next time...fewer photos stops = more adrenaline!

Can't wait to get back...................



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Viewing: 1-5 of 5

Andy LivoTop Report SG

Andy Livo

Voted 10/10

Brought it all back! On our 4 day stay we did Porcupine Rim, Slickrock and Porcupine Rim and were pretty shot at the end of that. The campsite sounded grim.
Posted Apr 17, 2008 5:07 pm

lloydGreat trip report


Voted 10/10

I really enjoyed your photos too!
Posted Apr 19, 2008 8:56 pm

Steady GrindRe: Great trip report

Steady Grind

Hasn't voted

Thanks...sounds like we were there at nearly the same time?!
Posted Apr 20, 2008 9:09 am

BeDrinkableyeah ...


Voted 10/10

we can officialy call me jealous. Twice I've had the opportunity to get to Moab and twice life interfered. Looks like a fan-freaking-tastic trip.
Posted May 6, 2008 1:26 pm

Steady GrindRe: yeah ...

Steady Grind

Hasn't voted

It was pretty amazing. I'm hoping to maybe make it back down again this fall. We'll see!
Posted May 6, 2008 4:29 pm

Viewing: 1-5 of 5