Some classic mountain bike trails fall short of the hype, but when it came to the Slickrock trail in Moab, UT, it far exceeded the expectations. Ever since I heard about this trail, it’s been on my bucket list. For some reason though, every time I go riding in the desert, we end up on another epic trail. So after two years of living in Utah, I finally got my tires on the infamous Slickrock trail. And let me tell you, it was an epic ride!
The trailhead is located 3 miles West of town, in the Sand Flats Recreation Area. Unlike every other trail in the Moab area, this one requires a day pass to access the recreation area, which costs $5. But for the chance to ride this trail, it’s totally worth it. If you’d rather not pay, you can always park on the road, outside the area, and ride your way in the extra couple miles. But once you reach the parking area, you’ll begin to get more and more stoked, because the landscape starts feeling out of this world.
In total, the Slickrock trail is just under 10 miles, round trip. The trail is made up of a 2 mile out-and-back leg from the trailhead, and a 5 mile loop. Right away, you get into the thick of it. Steep climb onto slickrock that resembles the surface of the moon. But unlike any other trail in the area, the climbs aren’t endless, but immediately followed by a steep, smooth descent. Over and over again, you climb the rollers, and then end up on a brake gripping descent. Somewhere between the high and low points, you’re treated to some of the sketchiest traverses on rock that cannot even begin to fathom how your tires will grip to. Yet, some how, the rubber-to-sandstone contact is like mountain bike magical glue! Resulting in some unexpectedly fun, non-technical sections of trail.
The trail itself, isn’t the most technical riding in the desert. Actually, it’s not technical at all! The challenge from this trail is cleaning the steep, and even steeper climbs, and trying to keep your eyes on the trail. Because at the end of the day, the trail is only half the reason to ride it. The surrounding landscape is some of the most visually stunning riding in the world. As you crest the rollers, you can see red rock formations of Arches National Park to the north. And to the south, you have the perpetually snow capped peaks of the La Sal Mountains. Add to those wild beauties, you get an overlooking view of the town of Moab to the West and the bend in the Colorado River. Now you tell me another ride with that much diverse scenery in one, short, 10 mile section of trail? It doesn’t exist.
My dog Gregor and I rode the hell out of the trail, but barely scratched the trail’s potential. Riding here with a group would be and endless session-ing of each section. Rather than sticking to the painted trail line, which we did, you could ride all the adjacent sections to flow it as you please. With challenging step up climbs, as well as side hits and drops. But don’t forget to stay on your toes, because even though 99% of the trail is on slickrock sandstone, the trail does intersect with the 4×4 off roading trail called Hell’s Revenge. And at those intersections, you can find some of the softest sand in the desert. And tires pumped up to 25psi tend to struggle with the soft stuff. But don’t worry to much, because all the real fun is had on the slickrock itself where you can ride an unreal trail.
After finishing up the ride, heading into town to catch some $0.25 wings and $3 drafts at Moab Brewery is the perfect way to end a day. And I couldn’t have been more stoke to finally check this trail off my bucket list. It lived up to, and exceeded the hype! So what are you waiting for? Get down to the desert and get your rubber on some slickrock!
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.