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Hazards of Hazzard County
by Tom Dillon

Hazzard County is generally ridden downhill. It is a three mile long, fast, swooping ride which leaves you with a grin so big that the top of your head might just fall right the heck off. What if you left sanity and, well, even more sanity behind and rode it up?

There are a veritable plethora of reasons not to ride up Hazzard County. Your mom would think you’re insane. Your friends would think you’re insane. And you would even question your own sanity until you were half way up, then realize you are, in fact, insane. Sanity is vastly overrated. So, leaving sanity behind, let’s look at riding it up.

Riding up Hazzard is easier than you’d think. It’s about a thousand feet vertical and only three miles long. And, if you get tired, no matter where you are, you can simply turn around and you’ll be back to your car in a few minutes. Riding up a relatively nontechnical trail would seem to have few, if any, hazards. But, there are a few.

The first hazard you encounter is looking the other way when you start at the bottom of Hazzard, down the Kokopelli Trail thinking, “Hey, wouldn’t that be a lot more fun than riding up a thousand foot climb?” This is an evil Siren who tempts you with the sweet call of unending downhill, only to dash you against the stony shores of the realization that you have no easy way to get back to your car.

You begin your climb with a smooth, undulating trail through the brush with only a slight incline. You think that the guy who wrote the article about this climb wasn’t kidding about it being “easier than you’d think.” After a time, you nod to yourself thinking, “Yeah, I knew it was going to get steeper, but I’m warmed up now. This is great.”

The next hazard you run into is downhill riders. Unlike what some people say, these folk don’t make much noise when they’re screaming down the trail. You gotta keep your ears wide open for those sane riders and your eyes peeled for places to get off the trail. And, you really, really don’t want to pull off the trail just after the downhill turn lest you surprise a rider and cause them to go careening off the trail. That’s just bad manners.

After awhile the trail gets steeper and somewhat rockier. Thoughts of, “What was I thinking? The writer’s an idiot” enter your mind.
A thousand feet of Pure-D elevation gain, starting at 8300 feet, can be a hazard to some folk. It’s a good thing you have two lungs, ‘cause if you pop one on the way up, you have a spare to get you back down. When you get back to your car, a Deadhorse Amber Ale will cause your lung to spontaneously regenerate.

When you finally get to the top you’ll turn around and see the view. Take it in for longer than you think you should. First, holy shift into my lowest gear, what an awesome view. Second, it’s gonna take you a tenth as long to get down. Third, you gotta get that selfie with the background just right. Fourth, you have to think about the downhill hazards.

Riding down, the hazards come flying at you like one of those downhill riders you couldn’t hear over your panting as you rode up. Then there’s those rocks you were so proud of cleaning on the way up who sing their song of endo on the way down. And chipmunks or ground squirrels or whatever those damn things are diving for your spokes, just before you get to a patch of those rocks I just mentioned. The awe you feel from the spectacle of incredible views can easily cause you not to notice the quickly approaching cattle guard. But, the biggest hazard is running into those insane riders climbing up!

Then, back at your car, your thoughts turn to “Wow, he was right. What an awesome ride! The climb was totally worth it.”
When we first got to the parking area, I struck up a conversation with Rob, a guy sitting next to his bike. Nestled comfortably within the talk about where we were each from, the weather and our favorite rides around Moab, was “Yeah, I broke some ribs just now riding down Hazzard.”

“But, wait, really, what? Holy shift lever! Do you want some ibuprofen?” His face gave no hint of pain, until I tested him with a joke. It’s the best way to test for broken ribs. I left him the whole bottle. We helped his wife with directions to get to him before we headed up. Be careful out there. Thar be Hazzards.

Access: South on Main St. (Hwy 191) to Ken’s Lake turn off (turn left) to Spanish Valley Dr. (turn right). This becomes La Sal Loop Rd. Continue to a parking area just past the Kokopelli trail entrance on the left and Hazzard County trail exit on the right. From the center of Moab, it’s about 27 miles.

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