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Not Just for Kids, Moab Brands Trails
by Sharon Hogan

The Moab Brands Trail System has become well known as a place for novice mountain bikers to gain trail-riding experience, but these trails are not just for kids and beginners. Adventurous intermediate and expert riders are also finding fun and tons of challenging singletrack and slickrock beyond the Rusty Spur, Lazy and EZ Trails.

Map of Moab Brand TrailsThe Moab Brands Trails are a series of interconnecting loops which spider out from the central parking area eight miles north of Moab, giving mountain bikers a wide range of trail combinations to choose from to suit their skills and fitness level. Linked together by the Bar M 4wd road and the Moab Canyon Paved Bike Path, there are nearly 30 miles of riding at the Moab Brands.

Right out of the parking lot is the North 40 Trail, a four mile figure eight loop that dips and turns through the broken mesa terrain on the north end of the Moab Brands, with spectacular views into the heart of Arches National Park. North 40 has plenty of fast flowing singletrack punctuated by short technical bits, which keep it interesting as it weaves between giant boulders, across arroyos and areas of broken slickrock. Four miles can be turned into eight since North 40 is fun to ride in both directions, with one way featuring harder climbs and the other, faster descents.

An easy warm-up on EZ Trail leads skilled riders with more time to Deadman’s Ridge and beyond. Deadman’s Ridge Trail twists through the corrugated country in the southern part of the trail system. Never flat and never straight, it constantly challenges bikers with tight switchbacks, quick drops and steep bump-ups. This maze of rock and dirt finally descends precipitously to its intersection with the Moab Canyon Paved Bike Path at Deadman’s Curve. Ride every bit of this trail and call yourself an expert. Then turn around and ride it in the opposite direction to test your legs, lungs, and traction on the decidedly tougher climbs. Or cruise a short half mile up the paved path back to the center of the Moab Brands trails.

Photo of mountain biker on trailDeadman’s Ridge Trail also gives access to several outer loop trails, giving bikers extended options for more technical challenges. Short Branch Trail shoots over to the Bar B Trail, with its embedded rock boulder gardens. After a tricky, mostly downhill mile of Bar B boogying, riders have a choice. Expert gravity-lovers can choose the Killer B Trail, a burly mile-long descent on loose rocky 4wd road, super steep slickrock and singletrack hairpins, ending far down the paved bike path. Riders who instead want more cross-country can choose Long Branch Trail and negotiate an intense mile of slickrock sidehills and smooth switchbacks that climb the tilted mesa leading back to Deadman’s Ridge Trail.

Mountain biker photoThe third choice from the Bar B Trail is to connect to the Bar M 4wd road and its adjacent slickrock areas. Unlike the famous Slickrock Trail in Moab, which features long smooth shoulders of sandstone, the slickrock at the Moab Brands is dimpled with potholes and cut by crevasses. Ridden together, the Rockin’ A and Circle O Trails are 4.5 miles of technically challenging slickrock, where dots painted on the rock mark precise passages in a maze of dead ends. Superb traction inspires confidence on the short steep climbs and drops but focus and fitness are key. Both trails connect to the Bar M 4wd road on both ends for an easy return to the parking lot. Circle O also has a short connector to North 40 Trail and more singletrack. The Bar M also intersects with the south end of the Lazy Trail, which, with its bermed curves, is the best way to end a ride with a huge grin.

The choices are amazing and nearly endless at the Moab Brands Trails for all kinds of mountain bikers. Tykes on tiny bikes can rip it on Rusty Spur. Greenhorns can work on basic trail riding skills. And fit and skilled bikers can have a blast on miles of challenging, exciting and pure screamin’ fun singletrack and slickrock.

Sharon Hogan moved to Moab from Telluride
with her husband Scott Escott in 1990.
She supports her mountain biking habit by working as a bookkeeper.

Photos: Scott Escott and Sharon Hogan

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