Moab Biking Roundup

Porcupine Rim
Enjoy a cool dip after a hot ride
Enjoy a cool dip after a hot ride

Is the Slickrock Trail too crowded and tame for you? Then head farther up Sand Flats Road to check out the Porcupine Rim, Moab's second-most popular mountain-bike trail. Porcupine Rim has it all—rugged Jeep trails, incredible rock formations, panoramic views, and, near the end of the loop, a fast single-track descent to the Colorado River. This classic route can be ridden as a 31-mile loop, but many bikers hire a shuttle to the trailhead for a 20-mile point-to-point ride.Porcupine Rim is best ridden in a counterclockwise direction. From Moab, pedal east on Sand Flats Road past the Slickrock Trail, gradually climbing 2,000 feet in a 10-mile ascent to the trailhead. The ride begins next to two spring-fed stock tanks, where you'll find a trailhead register and a sign indicating 14.4 miles to Highway 128 and 20.8 miles to Moab. Go through the gate, leaving it open or closed as you found it, and start up the Porcupine Rim Trail.

Once off Sand Flats Road, this ride just gets better and better. From the stock tanks the trail crosses upper Negro Bill Canyon and climbs an additional 1,000 feet on a ledgy, rugged Jeep road. After three miles the trail swings northeast, tops out at 6,800 feet, and follows a canyon rim for 1.4 miles. Now you're in Kodachrome country. All the views along the rim are spectacular, but the most stunning view is from High Anxiety Viewpoint at mile 3.6. Here you can pose on a rock ledge extending off the Rim and admire Castle Valley 1,500 feet below. The La Sal Mountains dominate the skyline to the east, fantastic rock towers called the Priest and Nuns loom to the northeast, and the Colorado River Gorge winds by to the northwest.

When you leave High Anxiety the fun begins—a 10-mile, 3,000-foot descent to the Colorado River and Highway 128. At mile 11.2, the trail turns to single-track as it skirts the head of Jackass Canyon, and then begins the final 1,000 feet. You're treated to spectacular views of the river gorge on this last, breathtaking stretch of the Porcupine Rim Trail. The Colorado looks cool and inviting after your desert ride—why not dive in when you finally get down there?

If you have any energy left when you hit Highway 128 and turn left toward Moab, check out Negro Bill Canyon, a half mile down the road from the trail junction. Hike two miles up-canyon along a beautiful desert stream and you'll find Morning Glory Natural Bridge spanning a spring pool in the cool shade of the canyon wall. Also check out Matrimony Spring on your way to town. It gurgles from the canyon wall near the highway junction north of Moab, and its clean, clear water tastes wonderful after hours spent sucking dry desert air on the Porcupine Rim.

To get there: Ride as a loop from downtown Moab, or shuttle 10.4 miles east on Sand Flats Road to the trailhead.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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