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Trail Happenings May 2011

Pipe Dream Trail
by David Olsen

It was once thought as too hard to build. “The slopes are too steep and the rocks are too big.” “There are too many rugged canyons and drainages.” “It would be too difficult to obtain easements and approvals.” “It can’t be done.” “It is an impossible dream to ride or hike above the gas (pipe) and power lines!” “It’s just a pipe dream.”

Now the dream, the “Pipe Dream” has come true. Moab’s newest singletrack trail is built and ready to hike, jog or ride with your mountain bike.

The Pipe Dream Trail is located along the southwest hills below the rim of Moab Valley parallel to Highway 191. The non-motorized “highline” single-track portion of the trail is located at a level above the tan City Water Tank that can be easily spotted against the talus slope. The trail begins in the north near Kane Creek Blvd at a Trailhead located at Aspen Street, off of Doc Allen Drive, (elevation 4,200) and continues 4 miles southeast to the Hidden Valley Trailhead (elevation 4,700). This is only a 500’ elevation gain, but it does have its share of ups and downs. The trail is fairly challenging to jog or hike, and difficult to ride. One rider mentioned that “it demands all your attention.” The “highline” portion is built along very steep side slopes and is very technical. It should not be attempted by novices. The trail is enjoyed by riders with intermediate and above mountain biking skills since the consequences of riding off the trail could be very painful. It is definitely a “Ride at Your Own Risk” type of trail, however, strong mountain bikers love the trail for its inherent risk and challenge.

There are approximately 10 miles of trail and dirt road loops within the Pipe Dream Trail System. These trails are on public lands and go around several private sections on the west side of Moab. There are stunning views of the mountains, and a panorama view of Moab City. In addition to the 4 mile “highline” single track there are additional segments of single track and a County Class D dirt roads that offer flat and hilly segments under the power lines. The dirt road sections are better suited for less advanced riders and the road makes a great return route to Moab. The best way to get in shape and limit the use of vehicles is to start from any of the three main trailheads; Aspen Street, Jackson Street, (4th East), or the southern trailhead at Hidden Valley Trailhead, accessed off of Hwy 191 at Angel Rock Road to Rim Rock Road.

Construction of the Pipe Dream Trail took approximately 2,000 volunteer hours and 4,000 paid trail worker hours. Funding came from the City of Moab matched by the Recreational Trail Program which is administered by the State of Utah Trails and Pathways Program. Additional funding came from Trail Mix, a foundation grant, and the Workforce Services WIA Youth program. Volunteers included youth groups, Eagle Scouts, school groups, bike shop employees, and members of the community. According to the fourteen hired trail builders, the trail was just as fun and challenging to build as it is to ride. Many of the trail builders lost weight, and dreamed each evening about moving rocks on the next challenging section. Portions of the trail were tricky to build and some two to three ton rocks were moved or set in place. Trail workers took a great deal of pride building the beautiful rock bridges in the canyons and drainages. A BLM employee who had visited Italy, stated that the Pipe Dream Trail reminded her of the rock lined Appian Way that was built in Rome Italy after 312 BC.

Join the Celebration!!! On June 17th at 4:00 P.M., Moab City, Grand County, Bureau of Land Management, State Institutional Trust Lands Administration and Trail Mix invite the community to celebrate the completion of the Pipe Dream Trail. The event will begin at the Hidden Valley Trailhead, located west of the intersection of Highway 191 and Angel Rock Road. After a brief ribbon cutting ceremony a group of bikers will take a single file “critical mass” ride north on the Pipe Dream highline 4 miles and exit at Aspen Street in Moab. Hikers will choose to hike the same route into Moab, or celebrate the trail with a much easier 1 mile loop near the Hidden Valley Trailhead. It will be hot, so bring lots of water!

About the Author: David Olsen is the Moab City Community Development Director and Vice Chair or the Grand County Trail Mix Committee. David is passionate about all the trails around Moab. He is an avid runner, biker, and occasional motorcyclist. David is responsible for many of the trails developed in the area, including the Mill Creek Parkway, that winds through downtown Moab.

Pipe Dream Trail Map

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