Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Moab 4WD Backroads: Central - Part 2

This is the second of four posts describing the trails in the central riding area described in the book "Moab, UT Backroads and 4-Wheel Drive Trails" by Charles A. Wells. Like the majority of riders into the Moab area – Wells is merely a "visitor"; but, he's done it a lot!

Offroading Home is digitizing GPS tracks for the trails he describes in the book. The fifteen trails in the Northwest area were published previously and now we are working on the 20 trails in the Central area, the majority of which are considered "difficult." Wells rode the trails in his Jeep (and therefore "street legal") but many should be rideable in an ATV with a bit of pre-planning.

  [The portion of the map for the "Central" riding area of the system is complete and ready for download over at the Offroading Home web site, under the Utah tab and entitled, of all things: "UtahMoabTrailSystem.kmz".]

As offroading books go, they are pretty good. The graphics of his maps and trails are obviously artist renditions and not all that precise. Of course thats why we spend the time in doing the maps. What they do have however is a really good description for each of the trails. Plugging the Offroading Home trail into your GPS and following along Wells' description is the best of both worlds.

Central Moab Area

The trailheads of the Central Area are all pretty close to the town of Moab, it's what come after that gets a bit dicey. If you are taking one of the five "easy" trails in this area you may get away with only 4-WD; but, the 14 rated "difficult" require that your rig be modified from its "stock" state and even then body damage is still possible, if not probable. Lifts, differential lockers, aggressive articulation, winches, skid plates and tow hooks should be considered "required."

Anticipate navigating over steep sand hills with soft downslopes, steep grades with severe undulation, sideways tilt, deep water crossings and extremely narrow shelf roads. Passing other vehicles may be impossible without backing up long distances. Not for me but just look at the photos - pretty grand.

Poison Spider Mesa Trail

Description: Difficulty: Difficult – Huge awkward ledges and many tippy spots, modified vehicles only with nvery high clearance, lockers, large tires and good articulation. Route finding difficult - painted jeep symbols and tire marks.
Length: 10 miles; Time: 5 - 6 hours not counting stops and extra route-finding time; Open: Year-round.
Location: Start: North of Moab on UT-191 to about 1.5 miles after crossing the Colorado River then turn left on Potash Road (279). Drive 5.9 mi south and turn right into well marked parking area.
Return: The way you came or turn right after 0.2 mi if plan on continuing on to Golden Spike Trail.
Features: One of most popular trails in Moab; can combine with Golden Spike or Gold Bar Rim Trails; incredible scenery; difficult obstacles; Little Arch near cliff edge overlooking Moab; mountain biking trail.

Golden Spike Trail

Description: Difficulty: Difficult – One of the most difficult and time consuming trails in the Moab area, numerous high rock ledges; daunting slickrock maneuvers; few bypasses. Differential lockers, high clearance and body protection necessary; suspension is severely tested; route finding difficult even with painted spikes, tire marks and brown sign posts. Group travel a must with at least one who has been on trail before - hire guide. Carry at least 1 gallon water per person per day - don't try to walk out if lost.
Length: 7 miles by itself but must add 5.1 for Poison Spider, 3.7 for Gold Bar Rim and 4.9 for Gemini Bridges Road.; Time: Not uncommon to get stuck over night (so pack food and bags) at least very long day.; Open: Year-round
Location: Start: Left on Potash Road about 1.5 mi after crossing Colorado River on UT-191. 5.9 mi left on UT-279 then turn right into well-marked parking are for Poison Spider Mesa Trail. Follow directions for first part of poison Spider Mesa but after 5.1 miles continue straight on Golden Spike where loop portion of Poison Spider goes right.
Return: After Gold Bar Rim you end in sandy valley where a large road goes right- the Gemini Bridges Road. Follow it past Gooney Bird Rock to UT-191.
Features: "Dream trail" full of difficult obstacles including: Launch Pad, Skyline Drive, the Golden Crack, the Golden Stairs, The Wall and Double Whammy; skirts the high cliffs overlooking Moab; cannot access directly - only via either Poison Spider Mesa or Gold Bar Rim Trails..

Cliff Hanger Trail

Description: Difficulty: Difficult – Dirt is filled then quickly erroded, strictly hard-core, big ledges. tips and obstacles. NOT suitable for stock vehicles.
Length: 5.7 mi. (One-way); Time: 4 hrs.; Open: Year-round.
Location: Start: Amasa Back Bike Trail trailhead, 5.9 mi from UT-191 in Moab.
Return: Same way
Features: REAL difficulties although incredible scenery and overlooks. Heavy bike traffic.

Hurrah Pass Trail

Description: Difficulty: Easy – Wide gravel road with occasional ledges and steep spots. Possible for 2-wheel drive vehicles IF high ground clearance and ideal conditions. Water crossings on Cane Creek Road. Be prepared to stay over night, especially in spring runoff season. Easy route-finding - rougher descent from pass on other side.
Length: 9.7 mi (One-way); Time: 3 hrs (Round-trip); Open: Year-round.
Location: Start: West from UT-191 on Kane Creek Road in Moab, left at first fork heading south along Colorado River. Cattle guard at 4.6 miles and parking area.
Return: Same way
Features: Kane Creek Canyon, views from Hurrah Pass, petroglyphs at Birthing Rock, camp sites (arrive early on summer weekends).

Moab Rim Trail

Description: Difficulty: Difficult – Extremely scary and difficult first mile, long climb along tigfht, tippy, difficult ledges requires excellent driving skills and very capable four=wheel drive rig with good artiulation abilities. Dangerous trail not for stock vehicles or inexperienced drivers.
Length: 8.6 (Round-trip); Time: Full day; Open: Year-round.
Location: Start: West from UT-191 on Kane Creek Road in Moab, left at 0.7 mi, continue another 1.8 mi. to parking lot on left.
Return: Odometer reset and return 1 mi along trail then bear right and descend narrow road into sandy valley. Loop joins original trail at 2.1 mi, saty right.
Features: Convenient to Moab, hard-core ride not easily forgotten, views of Moab - adjacent to closed-to-riders wilderness area.

Learn A Little More

You've heard of Ray Stevens before, haven't you? You know… the "Ahab the Arab" guy? If you've had a chance to see him on a "talk" show or somewhere that they get him talk about the songs he has written you should have come away understanding that this guy is one of the true song writing geniuses of our day.

That song "I'm my own grandpa" is true genius. He is also a true patriot and attending one of his performances always leaves you a bit rib-sore from laughter, uplifed about life and very proud to call yourself an American.

Ray Stevens - "Thank You"


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