A Complete Guide to Mountain Biking in Moab, Utah

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Mountain biker standing next to bike on exposed rock ledge in Utah with red rock canyonland views as backdrop
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I’m going to get a lot of pushback for saying this, but I’m not fully in love with Moab mountain biking. Sure, there’s some iconic riding and great views, but I much prefer the red rock of Sedona and the views out over Hurricane.

The Moab scene has just become overwhelming over the past few years with National Park goers, off-road ATVers, and mountain bikers, and the trails – although they were ahead of their time a decade ago – are overall good, but not amazing.

But that’s all just my opinion. Mountain bikers do love to flock to the red slickrock trails of Moab and it still remains a ‘mecca’ for many riders. Just visit on a weekend in October and you’ll see what I mean.

I’ve done several trips to Moab and in this post, I share everything you need to know to plan your trip so you can decide for yourself if Moab lives up to the hype.

Learn everything you need to know to plan a mountain bike trip to Moab


Why mountain bike in Moab?

Why is Moab so popular with mountain bikers? For one, Moab was really the first place that drew mountain bikers decades ago. The slickrock riding was different from any other mountain bike terrain around the country and the awesome scenery and good weather made it a great place to visit. Moab was ‘the place’ for mountain bikers in the 80s and that status has kind of stuck, for better or worse.

And it’s true – Moab does have good riding if that’s your style. I’d call it cross-country on steroids. There are lots of punchy climbs, plenty of chundery rock gardens, not a whole lot of sustained elevation gain/loss (depending on which trails you’re riding or if you’re shuttling), and big views almost non-stop.

There’s a little bit of everything for every type of rider from novice to expert but just be prepared for old-school style trails with not a ton of flow.

Mountain biker descending technical rock garden in Moab, Utah

Important things to know about mountain biking in Moab

The exposure is real. Mountain bikers have died

Depending on what trails you’re riding, the exposure in Moab can be no joke. Literally, game over if you fall. The trail Portal is perhaps the most well-known trail for its exposure, but many other trails have cliffside singletrack as well. When in doubt, walk.

Summer temps can be extreme

If you visit Moab in the summer (which I do not recommend), be aware that temps can easily top 100°. Avoid riding mid-day, brings lots of water, and always have a ride plan.

Moab gets snow in the winter

I was actually surprised when I first learned that Moab gets snow. If you want to visit in the winter months, be sure to check the forecast. You also might not be able to ride the higher elevation trails if there have been a few storms.

E-Bikes are not allowed on most trails

Many of the trails in Moab were built with grants that specifically say ‘no motorized vehicles’, which includes electric bikes. I have a feeling these rules will change in the near future, but for now, e-bikes are not allowed on most trails in Moab. The one exception is the Slickrock Trail in the Sands Flats Recreation Area.

Town can be a sh*tshow

Over the past decade, Moab has transformed from a sleepy desert town to a full-blown tourist destination. With National Park goers (Moab is the gateway town to three different NPs), OHVers, and yours truly – us mountain bikers – town has become a bit of a scene. Just be prepared for lots of crowds (on and off the trails), long restaurant wait times, busy campsites and campgrounds, and even sold-out hotels.


9 Mountain bike networks in Moab to check out

Now let’s get into the fun stuff! Moab mountain biking can be broken down into nine different trail networks. Some of these networks are pretty isolated while others you can link together to create big rides.

I’ve listed them in order of relative difficulty with Moab Brand Trails being the ‘easiest’ and Amasa Back being the hardest.

  1. Moab Brand Trails
  2. Klonzo
  3. Dead Horse Point
  4. Navajo Rocks
  5. Klondike Bluffs
  6. Sand Flats
  7. La Sal Mountains
  8. Horsethief/Mag 7
  9. Amasa Back

1. Moab Brand Trails

The Moab Brand Trails are a great place for families or those new to Moab who want a bit of a warm-up before hitting the more challenging stuff. Many of the Moab Brand Trails have a cross-country feel, some on slickrock (like Circle O), although you can definitely find some tech here as well. If you find the Moab Brand Trails difficult, it’s best to stay on the more beginner and intermediate trails around Moab.

This network has some great views out over Arches National Park as well.

Becky riding mountain bike on singletrack trail in Moab, Utah with tall boulders lining the trail
The Moab Brand Trails are a great place to warm up or take the family

2. Dead Horse Point

The trail system at Dead Horse Point State Park is another great option for riders or families looking for a cross-country day out on the trails. There are several loops you can do ranging from just a few miles to a 12 or 15-mile day.

The Dead Horse Point trails are located high up on a mesa and they overlook Canyonlands National Park. It’s actually where the ending of the movie Thelma and Louisa was filmed! There is some exposure, but you really have to get off the trail and walk to the edge to be in any kind of danger.

There is a day fee required to enter Dead Horse State Park.

3. Klonzo

I feel like the Klonzo trail network falls a bit under the radar for Moab mountain biking, but it’s one of my favorite places to ride. I actually think there’s more flow here than most other networks in Moab.

You can expect a little bit of everything from cross-country climbing to flowy descents, rock features, and great views. Gravitron is a must.

Red dirt singletrack mountain bike trail in Moab, Utah
The Klonzo network is a bit under the radar, but it has great trails!

4. Navajo Rocks

If you’re looking for the iconic slickrock riding of Moab, head to Navajo Rocks. There are two loops you can do here or one really big loop. Expect lots of rock riding, punchy ups, great views, and fast, rolling slickrock descents that aren’t nearly long enough.

Becky riding mountain bike on slickrock section of trail in Moab, Utah with tall red rock bluff on one side
Navajo Rocks is a great place for moderate slickrock riding

5. Klondike Bluffs

If you like techy climbing, Klondike Bluffs is the place for you! These trails are built on a low bluff (hence the name) and to get to the top of the bluff is a bit of a grunt. Of course, techy climbing means techy descents as well.

Riders can expect a lot of slickrock riding, rolling (and oftentimes technical) traverses, and well-built downhill runs with some great flow.

Mountain biker facing away from camera looking out over desert landscape from atop a bluff in Moab, Utah
Klondike Bluffs has tough climbs, but the views are worth it!

6. Sand Flats

Perhaps you’ve heard of Moab’s Slickrock Trail in the Sand Flats area? It was once a moto trials trail that has since been adopted by mountain bikers and some consider it the ‘best trail in Moab’. I’m not convinced, though. It’s 10.5 miles of slickrock riding with lots of undulating ups and downs that can get a bit monotonous. It would be a blast on an e-bike, though! (The Slickrock Trail is one of the few trails in Moab that allows e-bikes).

A bit higher up from Slickrock is one of Moab’s newest trails, Falcon Flow, which has a lot more variety than the Slickrock Trail. You can ride it as an out-and-back, shuttle it, or climb up the road.

There is a Day Fee required to enter the Sand Flats Recreation Area (waived if you’re camping at one of the campgrounds).

7. La Sal Mountains

The La Sal Mountains are the tall, often snow-capped, peaks that rise up behind Moab. They are also the starting point for one of Moab’s most iconic descents, The Whole Enchilada, as well as Porcupine Rim, one of Moab’s most popular trails.

Becky posing for photo on mountain bike on The Whole Enchilada trail in Moab with green meadow and mountains behind her
The Whole Enchilada starts high up in the La Sal offers a different Moab mountain biking experience

8. Horsethief/Mag 7

I’ve only ridden the Horsethief/Mag 7 once and I thought it was ok. In my opinion, it doesn’t flow as well as other networks. But that being said, some riders love it and it’s home to the iconic Gold Bar Rim and Portal trail, so I don’t want to discourage you from checking it out.

The upper trails are a mix of cross-country and moderate tech with lots of punchy rock slab climbs. It’s the kind of trail system that makes you feel like you’re pedaling the entire time.

The lower trails (Gold Bar Rim and Portal) are extremely technical and have massive exposure in some places.

Mountain bike riding away from camera on singletrack trail in Moab, Utah surrounded by red rock formations and snow-capped mountains in the distance
The Mag 7/Horsethief area has a bit of everything from mellow cross-country to some of the hardest trails in Moab and everything in between

10. Amasa Back

Lastly, we have Amasa Back, which is where Captain Ahab and several other expert-only trails are. The climb up HyMasa is actually pretty enjoyable and makes for a great descent if you don’t want to do the more challenging trails back to the parking area.

The reason this network is listed last (i.e. hardest) is because Jackson and Rockstacker are the two most gnarly trails in Moab. If you have the skills they’re worth doing once, but other ‘expert’ trails in Moab are a lot more fun and have way more flow.

Mountain biker riding down technical section of rocky slickrock trail in Moab, Utah.
Captain Ahab is one of the most iconic mountain bike trails in Moab

Discover more fun adventures in Moab


Best mountain bike trails in Moab + route recommendations

10 Best mountain bike trails in Moab

  1. Great Pyramid (Dead Horse Point, Beginner)
  2. HyMasa (Amasa Back, Intermediate)
  3. Alaska (Klondike Bluffs, Intermediate)
  4. The trails that make up the two Navajo Rocks loops (Intermediate)
  5. Great Escape (Mag 7, Intermediate)
  6. Gravitron (Klonzo, Intermediate/Advanced)
  7. Bull Run (Horsethief, Advanced)
  8. Porcupine Rim (La Sal Mountains, Advanced)
  9. Captain Ahab (Amasa Back, Advanced)
  10. Gold Bar Rim (Mag 7, Very Advanced)

7 Fun Route Recommendations

1. Brand Trails Loop

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate
  • Trail network: Moab Brand Trails
  • Highlight trails: North 40, Rockin A
  • Mileage: 14.6 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,363 ft
  • Route directions: Brand Trails Parking > EZ > Deadman’s > Longbranch > Bar B > Rockin A > Circle O > North 40
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks
Screenshot of Moab Brand Trails mountain bike route in Moab, Utah
Brand Trails Loop

The Moab Brand Trails is home to some of the oldest singletrack in Moab and it’s a great place to warm up to Moab mountain biking or bring the family if everyone has different skill or fitness levels.

This route covers a lot of ground and hits some of the best trails in the network like North 40 and Rockin A. Circle O is hit or miss when it comes to popularity – some people love it for its slickrock riding and great views while others think it lacks flow and is too jarring.

Make it Easier & shorter

There are lots of ways to adapt this ride to your skill and fitness levels. One way to make it shorter (and easier) is to skip Longbranch and Bar B on the southern end.

Alternatively, you can skip North 40 on the northern end, but this is one of the highlight trails of the route (for me at least!).

You could also skip Circle O by taking the Bar M doubletrack over to North 40.

2. Dead Horse Loop

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Trail network: Dead Horse Point
  • Highlight trails: Great Pyramid
  • Mileage: 13 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 677 ft
  • Route directions: Intrepid Trail System Parking (fee required) > Intrepid > Great Pyramid > Big Chief > Crossroads > Whiptail > Twisted Tree > Prickily Pair
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks, MTB Project
Screenshot of Dead Horse Point mountain bike route in Moab, Utah
Dead Horse Point Loop

If you’re looking for a day off from the punchy slickrock riding Moab is known for, this is a great cross-countryesque loop with great views out over Canyonlands. There is a fee to enter Dead Horse Point State Park, but it’s worth it for the great riding.

This 13-mile loop hits most of the trails in the network and there are several options to make it shorter. There is some exposure, but nothing dangerous unless you get off your bike and walk to the edge.

Make it shorter

The trails here are well-signed with trail maps, so it’s easy to adjust your ride to how you’re feeling if you don’t want to do the full 13-mile loop.

3. Navajo Rocks Loop

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Advanced (with good fitness!)
  • Trail network: Navajo Rocks
  • Highlight trails: Big Lonley, Big Mesa, Ramblin
  • Mileage: 17.1 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,571 ft
  • Route directions: Overflow Navajo Rocks Parking > Rocky Tops > Coney Island > Big Lonely > Big Mesa > Ramblin
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks, MTB Project
Screenshot of Navajo Rocks mountain bike route in Moab, Utah
Navajo Rocks Loop

This is one of my favorite rides in Moab. It’s got everything from techy climbs, flowy descents, epic views, and lots of slickrock riding. The loop is best ridden clockwise for the most downhill fun.

Don’t underestimate this ride, though. It’s a big day and your legs will definitely feel worked at the end (if they don’t, then who are you?).

Make it shorter

If you’re not up for a 17+ mile day, you’re still in luck. Navajo Rocks is easily broken up into two smaller loops. If I had to choose, I’d go for the eastern loop which will have you climbing up Rocky Tops and descending Ramblin.

Alternatively (or on another day), you could do the western loop by climbing up Coney Island and then descending Big Lonely to Big Mesa.

4. Gravitron Loop

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate+
  • Trail network: Klonzo
  • Highlight trails: Gravitron
  • Mileage: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 979 ft
  • Route directions: Klonzo Parking “A” > Borderline > (Optional: Wahoo) > Gravitron > Vertigo > Secret Passage > Dunestone > Boondocks
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks
Screenshot of Navajo Rocks mountain bike route in Moab, Utah
Gravitron Loop

I was very pleasantly surprised by this loop. Klonzo doesn’t get nearly the amount of mountain bike traffic that other areas of Moab see (ahem, Porcupine Rim), but it’s super fun and actually has quite a bit of flow.

Gravitron was definitely the highlight trail with some fast flow, fun techy sections, and a bit of narrow sidehill.

Make it longer

Add the Wahoo Loop at the top of the Borderline climb. The downhill is super fun and the climb back up is mellow. Definitley worth doing!

If you still have some juice left in your legs at the end of the ride, head over to the other side of the road and climb up Hotdog then descend down The Edge.

5. Super fun Klondike ride

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate+
  • Trail network: Klondike Bluffs
  • Highlight trails: Alaska
  • Mileage: 11.2 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,120 ft
  • Route directions: Dino Tracks Parking > Dino Flow > Little Salty > Baby Steps North > Mega Steps > Alaska > Homer
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks
Screenshot of Fun Klondike Ride mountain bike route in Moab, Utah

Put on your punchy climb pants because Klondike Bluffs is full of tough ups. This route cobbles together some of the mellowest riding in the network, but don’t expect it to be easy.

The initial roll along the lower Dino Flow traverse is fun and rolling and then you get into the climbing. It’s an up. You’re rewarded with a super fun descent down Alaska at the end, though.

Be sure to hike up to see the dinosaur tracks after you’re done your ride!

Make it easier & Shorter

Instead of climbing Little Salty, climb up Baby Steps North instead.

Make it longer

The Klondike network is pretty large, so there are lots of ways you can make this ride longer. You can continue all the way to the end of Dino Flow and then climb up Baby Steps South and make your way over to UFO to rejoin the route.

You could also take Mega Steps down instead of Alaska. I haven’t ridden Mega Steps, but it gets good reviews.

6. Always End On A Down Hill

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate+
  • Trail network: Horsethief/Mag 7
  • Highlight trails: Bull Run
  • Mileage: 18.2
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,430
  • Route directions: Arths Parking > Getaway > Bull Run > Arths Corner > Little Canyon > Great Escape
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks
Screenshot of Mag 7 mountain bike route in Moab, Utah

I rode this route last time I was in Moab and I thought it was ok. Bull Run gets rave reviews from riders, but in my opinion, it was a bit chundery and tedious and didn’t have a whole lot of flow to it.

This is a big ride, so be prepared with lots of water, (more than you think you need!) route directions, and a plan to bail if needed.

Note that this is a figure 8 loop.

Make it Easier

Skip the top part of Getaway and the descent down Bull Run by cutting over on the connector trail.

Make it shorter

Skip the lower loop (Arths Corner, Little Canyon, Great Escape).

Shuttle it

If you have two cars and you want to do one of the classic descents in Moab, start at the top of Bull Run and descend all the way down to the Colorado River via Gold Bar Rim and Portal. This shuttle is ONLY for VERY experienced riders. See route details here.

7. HyMasa/Captain Ahab Loop

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Advanced
  • Trail network: Amasa Back
  • Highlight trails: Captain Ahab
  • Mileage: (a hard) 8.3 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,352
  • Route directions: Amasa Back Parking > Amasa Back Access > Clif Hanger > HyMasa > Captain Ahab
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks, MTB Project
Screenshot of Mag 7 mountain bike route in Moab, Utah
Captain Ahab Loop

Along with The Whole Enchilada, this is one of the most iconic rides to do in Moab.

Head over to my full Captain Ahab trail guide to learn more about what to expect and route options.


Best time to ride in Moab

The best time to plan a mountain bike trip to Moab is during the shoulder seasons. April/May and September/October are prime due to nice temps. Summers get brutally hot and winters can be cold and snowy.

Since there is a short window of tolerable weather, Moab does get extremely busy during the prime months so expect to share the trails with a lot of other mountain bikers and off-road ATVers.

If you want a chance at avoiding the crowds, March and November can be great months to visit. Just be prepared for some colder days and nights and maybe rain or snow.

Mountain biker riding away from camera on slickrock in Moab, Utah

What gear to pack

For a complete list of what mountain bike gear to pack for your trip to Moab, head over to my Complete Mountain Bike Trip Packing List and Mountain Bike Pack Essentials posts.

Below are a few items especially pertinent to mountain biking in Moab.

Gear Essentials

Fox Enduro Sleeve mountain bike knee pads

Knee Pads

Much of the trail in Moab is either on hard slickrock or gravely singletrack. Either way, if you fall, it’s not going to feel good. Protect your knees with knee pads. My go-to’s are the Fox Enduro Sleeves.

Osprey hydration pack for mountain biking

Hydration Pack

Bring more water than you think you’ll need on any ride you do in Moab. The desert environment sucks the moisture out of you and the punchy terrain will have you working twice as hard as a ‘normal’ ride.

Tube of Sun Bum sunscreen

Sunscreen

The sun exposure in Moab can be brutal, so be sure to pack a tube of sunscreen so you can reapply out on the trails. I like SunBum because it’s mineral-based.


Moab mountain bike shops, rentals, & More

Moab is a mountain biking town, so there are a handful of bike shops that offer full tune-ups, rentals, spare parts and gear, and shuttles. If you’re looking for a day tour or multi-day trip, there are several tour companies as well.

Full-service bike shops & Rentals

These full-service bike shops offer everything you need from tune-ups to rentals, spare parts, and gear.

  • Poison Spider Bicycles | (800) 635-1792
  • Chile Pepper Bike Shop | (435) 259-4688
  • Rim Cyclery | (435) 259-5333
  • Double Down Bike Shop | (435) 259-9196
  • Moab Cyclery | (435) 259-7423
  • Moab Bike Fiend | (435) 315-0002

Moab Bike Shuttles

Whether you’re looking to do The Whole Enchilada or test your skills on Portal, here are a few options for Moab bike shuttles.

  • Poison Spider Bicycles | (800) 635-1792
  • Chile Pepper Bike Shop | (435) 259-4688
  • Moab Bike Fiend | (435) 315-0002
  • Moab Cyclery | (435) 259-7423
  • Porcupine Shuttles | (435) 260-0896
  • Coyote Shuttles | (435) 260-2097

Mountain bike tours

If you prefer to have a local show you around, you can book a half-day, full-day or multi-day tour with one of these operators.

  • Rim Tours | (435) 259-5223
  • Moab Cyclery | (435) 259-7423

Where to eat & drink in Moab

Moab has a handful of really great restaurants. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Moab Garage – This is by far my favorite place to eat in Moab. They serve amazing breakfasts and lunches and they have all sorts of delicious and healthy(ish) things to choose from. Get a donut!!!!
  • 98 Center – A Vietnamese restaurant serving authentic and tasty dishes
  • Sabaku Sushi – Surprisingly good sushi for the middle of the desert. They also have a nice outdoor patio in the back
  • Antica Forma – Good wood-fired pizza. The outdoor patio is really nice. This place can get busy, though!
  • Miguel’s Baja Grill – Pretty decent Baja-style Mexican food with big servings
  • Moab Food Truck Park – The only food truck I’ve tried is the Quesadilla Mobilla which serves really good and hearty quesadillas. There are usually a few other food trucks around as well
  • The Trailhead Public House & Eatery – Good place to get a burger

Where to stay in Moab

Moab camping

Moab used to have a ton of places for dispersed camping, but in recent years land-use authorities have really cracked down on where you can camp outside of town.

There are still a few places where you can camp for free. Check out:

  • Willow Springs Rd.
  • Cotter Mine Rd.
  • Klondike Bluffs
  • Dubinky Well Rd.

The road conditions can vary pretty extensively – a 4×4 vehicle is recommended, but we have been able to get our 2WD low-clearance van into some spots.

If you’re looking for paid campgrounds, there are a number of options. Be sure to book ahead of time as Moab gets really busy during the peak season and campgrounds fill up fast.

Van parked at dispersed campsite outside of Moab, Utah
Moab has a number of dispersed campsites with free camping. Please respect ‘no camping signs’ and pack out all of your trash (including toilet paper!)

Moab hotels

There are a lot of hotel options in Moab. I don’t have any specific recommendations, but there are a lot to choose from for all budgets.


I hope this detailed guide helps you plan your next Moab mountain biking adventure!

What are your favorite mountain bike trails or loops to ride in Moab? Do you have any else to add to this guide? What questions do you still have? Leave a comment below!

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A complete guide to mountain biking in Moab, Utah including the best trails to ride, route recommendations, moab bike shops, and more!
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