Updated: Mar 2, 2021
It’s got just about everything, and then some. I’m talking about the Porcupine Rim Trail in Moab, Utah. If you are looking for a ride that has got a bit of everything – gradual climbs, long descents, loose terrain, slick rock, single track, technical riding and in November a little snow – this is for you.
This trail is a favorite ride of hard-core Mountain bikers in Moab, and while it is rated as highly technical, an in shape somewhat experienced rider, like myself, can do it, as long as you don’t mind walking your bike over the occasional obstacle.
As always for those of you who just want the skinny, here you go:
Distance: 15.6 miles, one way (this is a shuttle ride)
Start: Approximately 5 miles up the Sandhill recreation dirt road
Finish: Colorado river drive, about 3 miles up the canyon.
Rating: Technical – expert riders, and those that don’t mind walking there bike.
Time: 3-5 hours
The trail head is marked and has a pullout available for parking. Since it is a shuttle ride you may want to leave a car where the trail ends at the Colorado river, or use a shuttle service. If you are really hard-core you can ride the full loop through town and be proud that you rode 34 miles instead of just 15.
The first four miles is a gentle climb to the top of the Porcupine rim. There are no super steep hills, just a constant incline until you reach the top. This part of the trail is also a 4×4 road, however motorized traffic on the trail is not very common. The terrain is mostly dirt and red rock and provides some stunning panoramic views.
Upon reaching the top of the Porcupine rim you get a view of Castle valley. There are some great overviews just off trail of the valley and are definitely worth a quick photo opportunity. At this point you might get some more company as a few different trails, including the Full Enchilada, feed into the Porcupine Rim trail.
Just after passing castle valley you learn why they call this trail Porcupine Rim. The trail becomes very rocky and technical, providing a chance to show off your technical skills to your friends, or add some bruises and scratches to your quickly growing collection of body art.
Just as your wrists are about to scream, the trail gets a little less rocky and starts to descend more quickly to the river. It is a fun fast ride to the single track and isn’t as technically demanding. However, the ease of this section is merely a ruse for the last 3 miles of single track before you reach the river.
It starts out innocent enough, the first .5 mile of the single track descends the mesa and soon you notice that the right side drops off several hundred feet to the canyon bottom below. Even with the drop off the trail is manageable to the 3/4 mile mark until you start to hit the really tough technical portion of this trail. The last 2 miles of this ride have more technical riding than the prior 13 miles.
The last two miles consist of descending several hundred feet to the end of the trail in leaps and bounds. For the expert rider, it is a playground of terrain that is hard to match. For the not as skilled rider, it is a bit more of walking the bike than you might be accustomed to.
While very challenging, the last 2 miles also offer beautiful views of the Colorado River and surrounding Mesas. You know you are finished riding when you hit the tunnel that goes under the highway and spits you out at the banks of the Colorado.
With any outdoor adventure you should take your ten essentials, lunch and plenty to drink, especially in the summer months. It is also a very good idea to bring spare tubes, a patch kit and a master link with a chain breaking tool. You definitely don’t want to have to walk your bike out of this ride because you broke a chain.
That’s a brief summary of a great Mountain biking trail I recommend to anyone who likes a good mix of riding. If you have ridden Porcupine Rim and have any comments please provide them below.
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