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Trail Happenings February 2011

Winter Trail Running Routes Near Moab
by Fred Wilkinson

Photo by Chris Martinez

Running is a great way to enjoy Moab’s trails. Winter presents challenges to other activities, which makes trail running an attractive option. In cold weather, even a slow jog allows you to keep warmer and travel further than hiking. Moab has several fun running events coming up in the next few months, so it might be a good time to highlight a few winter trail running options.

The three trails described below make good choices for winter runs. The trailheads are easily accessible in a car or on foot right out of Moab. These trails see a fair bit of winter traffic so in addition to pleasant off-season encounters with friends and neighbors, this means a well packed and easily followed trail. Outside of a few spots, these trails are mainly rocky or sandy so even if snow is spotty or melting, trail conditions should be good.

The Pipedream is Moab’s newest trail, and has generated a lot of excitement. One of its advantages is super easy access from several of Moab’s neighborhoods. As of this writing, the whole trail is not complete, so I will highlight the open section beginning from the Hidden Valley trailhead. Drive several miles south of town on Highway 191, turn right onto Angel Rock Road, then right on Rimrock Road (following the signs) to the trailhead parking area. The trail is signed and located just to the right of the kiosk. The trail follows rolling terrain along the base of the Moab Rim. It is surprising how removed from the highway and town you feel. If the snow is gone, be sure to admire some of the amazing rockwork used for trail construction. You can continue all the way to Moab, but turning around in half an hour will provide most runners with a pleasant out and back run. It’s definitely best to enjoy this trail in the morning during winter months. The trail is firmer and the sun disappears behind the rim about noon.

Photo by Fred Wilkinson

The Bar M Loop is a great winter option north of town. This is a flat loop and therefore easier and steadier running than most other snow covered options. In winter the feeling of solitude on the east side of the loop is incredible. The trailhead is located 9 miles north of Moab along hwy 191. It’s an 8 mile loop, but there are options to shorten the distance. ‘You Are Here’ style maps with the cut-off options are posted along this route. Either direction is OK. Going clockwise features views into Arches National Park and Courthouse Wash in ‘front’ of you more often.

The Amasa Back trail is usually a sunny place which is especially appreciated in the winter. The trailhead is a mile past the end of the pavement on Kane Creek Road. Two parking lots are located along the dirt road before the trailhead. This is an out and back route, so distance is variable. The trail descends some rocky terrain down to the creek, then begins climbing up the mesa. This is a double track, multi use trail, shared with OHV’s. Vehicle traffic is definitely at a minimum in the winter. The trail tops out on the mesa in about two miles. This is a good destination and turnaround point for most winter runs. Continuing onward there are intersections with the Jackson, Rockstacker and Pothole Arch trails before the viewpoint at the end of the Amasa Back trail. Jackson trail is best avoided during winter months with or without snow. If Rockstacker or Pothole Arch trails are dry, they are great options for the experienced runner. Adding them to Amasa Back will mean an extra 3-6 miles.

Moab hosts a number of great running events throughout the year. The Red Hot 50K and Canyonlands Half Marathon are usually filled to capacity by now, but it’s a great time to start training for other events. The Amasa 6.5mi and 9.5mi run is coming up in April. The Other Half in October and Winter Sun 10K in December may seem a long way off, but they fill fast and early. Check out and for more information on these events.

Author Fred Wilkinson is an avid trail runner and mountain biker. Fred has helped to build and maintain many of the trails around Moab and is an active member of the Trail Mix Committee. Fred also makes great Pizzas! He is co owner of Paradox Pizza.


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