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Trail Happenings September 2011

Trails of Autumn
by Kristi Jensen

Autumn in Moab brings yellows, oranges and fiery reds to the mountains, as the aspens and oaks change their hues. Unlike most mountain towns, the cool temperatures of fall only open up more trail opportunities as the desert loses its heat.

Tourists come to Moab to enjoy its wonderful selection of trails both in the mountains and the desert valleys. They hang out with their pals, and look forward to one great day after another in beautiful places on really fun trails. The visitors will feel physically depleted yet rewarded as they later enjoy their favorite beverage at camp, watching the sunset and planning their next adventure.

In Moab, there are temperature seasons and tourist seasons. As the stoic monochromatic green mountain sentries change to the brilliantly colorful autumnal guardians, it is so with the visitors and their gear. Life jackets, swimsuits and sandals are exchanged for hiking boots, or helmets and body armor. In the autumn, the snow free mountains and cool desert beckon a whole new wave of biking enthusiasts determined to ride the epic Whole Enchilada Trail from Burro Pass 26 miles down to Hwy 128, (the River Road). To drool over the menu for the Whole Enchilada Trail, please refer to the August 2011 Moab Happenings article, (available on line). Hikers and equestrians also flock to the mountains to enjoy the canopy of yellow aspen leaves blushed with red. After a quiet summer of high altitude hiking or horse riding, one should expect a flurry of mountain bike activity on the Burro Pass trail and around Warner Lake in the La Sal Mountains. A storm of biking energy bursts forth before the white blanket hush of the winter hides all of the trails and initiates a retreat to a quieter time.

While the peaks sleep under a blanket of snow, there is still plenty of biking and hiking to be had down in the desert. Moab has some great new trail additions to the already awesome classics. Local organizations and volunteers, under the auspices of the Trail Mix Committee, have been busily making new singletrack trails. A new gem, the Pipe Dream is the perfect townie ride or hike. This twisty, turny, technical trail is located below the Moab Rim and can be ridden right from town or favorite bike shop. Trail heads are located at Hidden Valley in the south, (off of Rim Rock road), Jackson Street, and Aspen Street on Doc Allen Drive at the north end.

Another proud achievement is the birth of the Magnificent 7 Trail System near Gemini Bridges. Similar to the Porcupine Rim/Whole Enchilada Trail, the Mag 7 starts at elevation, (off of Hwy. 313), and ends up at the Coloado River, requiring a shuttle to the trailhead. This system includes singletrack segments that generally parallel the Gemini Bridges road. The sections include Bull Run, Arth’s Corner, and Little Canyon Singletrack. These trails lead into the much tougher Gold Bar and Portal singletrack trails after following a series of jeep roads like the Golden Spike. Alternatively, one can exit the Mag 7 System at any point and return to the Gemini Bridges road. Follow the road down to Highway 191. Cross Hwy.19l utilizing the paved path underpass that flows into the Bar M - MOAB Brands Bicycle Focus Area. Great new trails await the rider in the Focus Area. If you are coming from the Gemini Bridges Area, check your energy and water levels and perhaps you will enjoy some of the Brand Trails on the way back to Moab. The Lazy or EZ Trails could be ridden to Deadman’s Ridge. The Deadman’s Ridge Trail connects to the new paved bike path where you can continue your ride across the Colorado River bridge and back into Moab. While the Lazy and EZ speak for themselves, and are relatively easy, Deadman’s Trail is a technical delight. Also new in the Brand Trails area, one will find the difficult Long Branch Trail, and the easier Rusty Spur Trail, and later in the fall the not quite finished North 40 Trail will welcome intermediate riders. (North 40 closed at this time). The Bar M - MOAB Brands trails are a perfect area for the whole family.

Want even more new bike trails? Check out the new EKG and Little Salty Trails in the Klondike/Baby Steps area north of Moab. Like the name indicates, this is an aerobic workout on slickrock.

About the author: Kristi Jensen is an owner of the Coyote Shuttle Company. She is an active member of the Trail Mix Committee and enjoys riding and hiking whenever she gets a chance. Kristi says “I often turn green with envy as I shuttle mountain bikers and hikers to our awesome trailheads. During the season, all I end up with is shuttle butt, a not too attractive result of too much driving.”

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