A Complete Guide to Mountain Biking in Moab, Utah

Mountain biker standing next to bike on exposed rock ledge in Utah with red rock canyonland views as backdrop

There’s a good chance that affiliate links are scattered throughout this post. If you click on one I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you and I’ll definitely be using it to buy bike gear.

I’m going to get a lot of pushback for saying this, but I’m not fully in love with the mountain biking in Moab, Utah. 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, mountain bikers, and hikers. 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 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 a handful of 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.

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 riding down rock garden on slickrock trail in Moab, Utah
Tackling a tricky rocky garden on Captain Ahab, one of the iconic trails in Moab

Important things to know Before You Go

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 National Parks), 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.

Mountain Biking Guide to Moab

Now let’s get into the fun stuff! The mountain biking in Moab 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 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. Many of these 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 also has some great views out over Arches National Park.

Best trails to ride:

  • EZ & Lazy: A beginner/family-friendly short loop
  • North 40: This is a fun, relatively mellow loop on the north end of the Moab Brand Trails.
  • Sidewinder: Fast and flowy
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

Moab Brand Trails route recommendation

>> Moab Brand Trails Intro Loop

  • Route difficulty: Beginner
  • Trail network: Moab Brand
  • Route type: Figure 8 Loop
  • E-bikes? No
  • Mileage: 8 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 721 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks

Route directions: Brand Trails Parking > EZ/Lazy Connector > EZ > Lazy > EZ/Lazy Connector > North 40 Loop

Route notes: This is a great intro loop to the Moab Brand Trails and Moab mountain biking in general. There’s a little bit of slickrock, some Moab-style tech, and great views, but it’s not overly challenging.

Make it harder/longer: If you’re ready to dive into some techy stuff, add Deadman’s Ridge after EZ and then descend down Sidewinder. Climb back up the paved Moab Canyon Parkway and connect back into Lazy to finish the figure 8 loop.

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.

Dead Horse State Park route recommendation

>> Dead Horse 13 Mile Loop

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate
  • Trail network: Dead Horse State Park
  • Route type: Loop
  • E-bikes? No
  • Mileage: 13 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 677 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks, MTB Project

Route directions: Intrepid Trail System Parking (fee required) > Intrepid > Great Pyramid > Big Chief > Crossroads > Whiptail > Twisted Tree > Prickily Pair

Route notes: 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. 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.

Best trails to ride:

  • Gravitron: A really fun intermediate trail with a mix of everything from moderate tech and fast flow
  • Wahoo: A quick 2-mile loop that has a fun descent and mellow pedal back up
Red dirt singletrack mountain bike trail in Moab, Utah
The Klonzo network is a bit under the radar, but it has great trails!

Klonz0 route recommendation

>> Gravitron Loop

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate
  • Trail network: Klonzo
  • Route type: Loop
  • E-bikes? No
  • Mileage: 8.4 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 803 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks

Route directions: Klonzo Parking “A” > Borderline > (Optional: Wahoo) > Gravitron > Vertigo > Secret Passage > Dunestone > Boondocks

Route notes: 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. Definitely 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.

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

Navajo Rocks route recommendation

>> Navajo Rocks Loop

  • Route difficulty: Advanced (with good fitness!)
  • Trail network: Navajo Rocks
  • Route type: Loop
  • E-bikes? No
  • Mileage: 17.1 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,571 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks, MTB Project

Route directions: Overflow Navajo Rocks Parking > Rocky Tops > Coney Island > Big Lonely > Big Mesa > Ramblin

Route notes: 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.

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.

Best trails to ride:

  • Dino Flow: This trail traverses the lower slopes of Klondike Bluffs and has some fun flow without much climbing
  • Alaska: A moderately technical descent from the top
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!

Klondike Bluffs route recommendation

>> Super Fun Klondike Ride

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate+
  • Trail network: Klondike Bluffs
  • Route type: Loop
  • E-bikes? No
  • Mileage: 11.2 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,120 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks

Route directions: Dino Tracks Parking > Dino Flow > Little Salty > Baby Steps North > Mega Steps > Alaska > Homer

Route notes: 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. 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).

Best trails to ride:

  • Falcon Flow: This is a newer trail and it’s pretty fun. The catch is that it’s kind of a stand-alone trail, so you either need to shuttle it or climb up Sand Flats Road
  • Eagle Eye: I haven’t ridden this since it’s a new trail, but it gets great reviews. I have a hunch that Eagle Eye and Falcon Flow are going to be part of an easier finish for the Whole Enchilada (see below).
  • Slickrock: One of the more iconic (and original) trails in Moab, Slickrock Trail is almost entirely on red rock. It’s a bootcamp for your legs, unless you’re on an e-bike.

Sand Flats route recommendation

>> Falcon Flow Loop

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate
  • Trail network: Sand Flats
  • Route type: Loop
  • E-bikes? No
  • Mileage: 8 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,099 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks

Route directions: Falcon Flow Parking > Sand Flats Road > Falcon Flow

Route notes: Falcon Flow is one of the newest trails in Moab and as such, it’s actually built for mountain bikers. It’s a fun cross-country ride with little tech and quite a bit of flow.

The climb up Sands Flat Road isn’t overly steep, but it is a bit of a grind. Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking that Falcon Flow is all downhill.

Shuttle it: Several bike shuttle companies are now shuttling these trails. See shuttle options below.

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 infamous descents, The Whole Enchilada, as well as Porcupine Rim, one of Moab’s most popular trails.

Head over to my trail guide on the Whole Enchilada to learn more about riding this epic trail.

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 and 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. These should only be ridden by very experienced, confident riders.

Best Trails to ride

  • Gateway: An actually pleasant pedal on dirt that would be a fun, easy descent as well
  • Bull Run: An ok advanced downhill trail with some tech, chunk, and a tiny bit of flow
  • Gold Bar Rim & Portal: Two very, very, VERY challenging trails with lights-out exposure
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

Mag 7/Horsetheif route recommendation

>> Always End On A Downhill

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate+
  • Trail network: Mag 7/Horsetheif
  • Route type: Loop
  • E-bikes? No
  • Mileage: 18.2 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,430 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks

Route directions: Arths Parking > Getaway > Bull Run > Arths Corner > Little Canyon > Great Escape

Route notes: 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.

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.

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.

Best Trails to ride:

  • HyMasa: The climb trail to Captain Ahab or can be a fun intermediate out-and-back
  • Captain Ahab: A super fun and very technical descent. Read my full trail guide here.
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

Looking for more fun things to do?

Check out these popular tours in Moab

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.

MTB Gear I Love

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
  • Hazard County Shuttle | (435) 210-8082

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 is packed with some 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

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 (I’ve stayed in a few and there were all just ok), but there are a lot of accomodations choose from for all budgets.


Related posts

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!

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

Consider ‘buying me a coffee!’

Similar Posts

I love hearing from you and appreciate your comments! However, if you leave a rude, unconstructive, or spammy comment, it will be deleted. It’s cool to be kind. Have an awesome day!

One Comment

  1. Wow! I’m so glad I found your blog! This is so well-written with so much great info. Thank you! I’m in California and want to do some travel to the Southwest at some point. I’m curious … I’m actually in the market for a new bike right now and thought I’d ask for your input. I’m currently riding a 2012 Rocky Mountain Element 30 and it feels like all the bike I need to do the sort of riding I want to do – mostly cross country – some technical, no jumps or anything wild. But I’m looking for a lighter bike, so am considering bikes like the Juliana Wilder TR… do you think that would be an appropriate bike for the type of rides above and similar in Sedona? I was actually fine on my old GT hardtail until I started trying slightly harder (easy black diamond) trails. Anyway – so you are a coach – do you ever hold clinics in CA? I’d love to do a clinic with a woman instructor! Thank you – Jodi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *