Slickrock Complete Ride
ElevationAscent: 758' 231 m
Descent: -758' -231 m
High: 4,771' 1,454 m
Low: 4,465' 1,361 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (1°)
Max Grade: 15% (9°)
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“A totally unique experience on the world's most famous bike trail.”— Nick Wilder
- Follow the white stripes, stay on the trail, and do not disturb the cryptobiotic soil or water filled potholes.
- PLEASE don't bring your dog - the burning hot sandstone surface tears away their paw pads, leaving them raw and bloody halfway through the ride. If you absolutely must bring them, bring extra water - make sure they leave the water in the potholes for the local wildlife.
About 95% of the ride is on incredibly tacky, smooth slickrock, and it's just remarkable what your tires will hold. If you have the nerve, muscle, and balance, everything is rideable, including inclines that look ridiculous at first glance. Oh, and the scenery is some of the most amazing in Moab...
There is a fee of $5/vehicle or $2/bike to enter Sand Flats Recreation Area. There is lots of great camping along Sand Flats Road, within easy biking distance to this trail and others in the area.
The trail is a never-ending series of short but incredibly steep climbs and descents. The rock provides incredible traction, and after a while, you'll realize that everything here is rideable, even if it appears to be way to steep to ride at first. If this is your first time, walk the steeper ones and work up the difficulties slowly - falling on rock hurts more than dirt.
From the intersection with the Practice Loop, you'll ride a short connection to the main loop. Along this section, you come to a cool view down Abyss Canyon, then wade through a sandy pit, and then intersect with the 4x4 trail called Hell's Revenge (don't follow that trail by accident).
At 2 miles you'll come to the loop part of this lollipop, and the preferred direction is clockwise (though either way is fine), so take a left and ascend along 'swiss cheese ridge' high above Moab. This is a long, generally straight in direction, section of trail. The ups and downs are steep for sure. Along the flatter sections of slickrock, be on the lookout for potholes that cradle prickly pear cactus or want to swallow your tires.
At 3.5 and 5 miles, there are optional spurs (each a couple tenths of a mile) that go to the edge of the cliff for great views and are well worth it. The trail turns to parallel the Colorado River here and begins to descend towards a vast, flatter expanse of slickrock. It's wise to roll up to edges slowly.
The Natural Selection viewpoint at 7 miles is really cool, and a great place for a rest before you head back to the west and south to complete the loop. On the return you'll find more punchy climbs and steep descents with some sand traps mixed in for good measure. This part of the route will pass a couple of different canyons and you'll get some spine tingling views across the red rock landscape.
There's one big climb and descent to tackle before reaching the intersection to head back to the trailhead. Your legs will be tired but keep riding, you're about the complete the world famous Slickrock!
The Slickrock Trail was originally created by dirt bikers in 1969.
Though incredibly tacky for bike tires, horses with metal shoes do not have the same experience, so settlers in the 1800's named it "slick rock".
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Local Club: Moab Trails Alliance
Apr 13, 2012: Thanks!
Apr 13, 2012: Maps are a success!
Land Manager: BLM Utah - Moab Field Office