“A big, unlikely desert adventure to an abandoned uranium mine, well off the beaten track.
— F. Felix
The Hey Joe - Spring Canyon Loop is one of those crazy Moab rides that takes you up and down places that seem totally impossible. This is a ride suitable to philosophical reflection.
You ride across a huge mesa top, down a beautiful sandstone canyon, along the Green River to another canyon where an eerie abandoned uranium mining operation slowly decays in the desert sun.
From there, you do a hike-a-bike that is more like Class 3 slabby rock climbing to reach the mesa and return to the start.
With blistering solar exposure and a fair bit of sand, this is a great ride to do in the winter (if there's no snow!).
Need to Know
Wear shoes that definitely stick to slickrock! The hike-a-bike is the most technical one I've seen. You'll probably be tag-teaming over some bits.
Park just off Highway-313 on the Dubinky Well Road, or save 2.5-miles of riding by driving in to the first major road split, as mapped.
You'll want to ride this loop clockwise, so bear left and take the Spring Canyon road. At about 9-miles, the road begins to run along the rim, then descends into Spring Canyon. This may or may not be difficult, depending on when the road was last graded. To derail environmentalists, Grand County is very attentive to maintaining even remote and unused roads. They even have a bedrock crusher, so this is not the challenging track it once was.
Once in the canyon bottom, proceed down the wash, reaching the Green River at Bowknot Bend. Turn right and follow the river roughly 8-miles to the next canyon: Hey Joe.
Ride up this canyon less than 1/2-mile, past remnants of equipment and buildings left after the abandonment of the Hey Joe uranium mine. The mine shaft is collapsed, so don't bother looking for it.
Now you should be watching on your right for a workable way up and out of the canyon wall. There may be rock cairns and a faint trail at first. Lug your bike up steep slickrock benches until you reach the rim. A short hand line may be helpful in spots.
Pedal out a scruffy track until it joins a dirt road. Turn left and contour around Spring Canyon, past the Tombstone formation, and back to the car.
History & Background
The IMAX movie "Everest" included a mountain biking scene on the Spring Canyon rim.