Trip and Slickrock Trail Review
*If you’re reading solely to gain info on the Slickrock Trail skip down to the second PP. Photobook at the Bottom.
Last week Westminster had fall break, meaning that we got Thursday classes off. I still hadn’t been to Moab except briefly on the way through to Colorado. So that’s exactly where I went! It’s about a four-hour drive from Salt Lake City. Upon arrival Bushman and I rented bikes at ‘Moab Cyclery’ (highly recommended) and made our way to the Sand Flats Recreation Area (SFRA). The 7,000+ acre SFRA is home to the famous Slickrock bike trail and 124 campsites. There is a small fee to enter the park and another to camp (5 to enter: 10 to camp.) I quickly realized that we had picked a busy weekend as every campsite was occupied and only later found out this was due to a half marathon hosted on that Sunday. With few chances left we got lucky as an older couple backed out of one of the last campsites in the area. We settled in just in time to cook dinner and watch the sun dip beneath the red canyon walls.
The next morning we got an early start on Slickrock. I think we may have been too excited as we missed the turn for the main trail and ended up doing the 2.3 mile practice loop by mistake. Although no less difficult than the real thing, the practice loop allows you to get a feel for the trail without venturing too far from the trailhead. It was a good way to get familiar with the bikes. The main trail is 12.7 miles long but exceptionally difficult. I rarely left my easiest gears. Unlike most bike trails there is no obvious path, however you are guided through the rocky landscape by a dashed white line (oddly feeling like you’re following a highway.) The natural tendency is to stay glued to the dashes, but those who venture from the set path will find both cheater routes and lines that require ridiculous stunts. If my pictures and video don’t paint a clear idea of the trail in your head…. they named some sections of the trail “Faith in Friction,” “Steep Creep,” and “Baby Bottom Bowl.” The need to focus on where to place your front tire often overshadows Slickrock’s beauty. Make sure you take plenty of breaks to soak it all in. The trail crosses elevated mounds of sandstone bound by cliffs carved by the Colorado River. There are many opportunities to peer into deep canyons, or gaze upon Arches National Park across the Colorado. The 12,000-foot tall La Sal Mountains provide a surreal backdrop, especially when dusted in snow (see pics). I would recommend you allow 4 hours to ride the entire loop; more if you explore. Make sure you carry plenty of water as the dry weather and exertion will rapidly cause dehydration.
We returned the bikes and had a tasty lunch at Slickrock café. Since it was still early afternoon and we hadn’t had enough, we headed to Arches National Park. Soon after entering we stumbled on the Delicate Arch trailhead and began hiking. It’s longer than I expected (as I hiked in my sandals and bike shorts) at around 3 miles round trip but was by – far my favorite place of the trip. It may be the most beautiful arch in the world and undoubtedly the most famous. I could spend days in the amphitheatre-like sandstone, staring out across the majestic valley and snow capped mountains through the unflawed arch. TahoeMatt’s secret: a posthole arch not clearly marked is on your right side as you approach the top of the hike. There you will find an incredible viewand the perfect photo opportunity. See below.
We left the park and followed highway 128 down the canyon in search of a campsite. Once again we found everything to be full and occupied. Feeling tired and hungry we settled on overflow camping located opposite the road from Moose Park. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we met the coolest English couple that was traveling the entire west coast in a colorful van (below.)
We exchanged countless stories and talked until the moon rose. The next morning we headed back into Arches and hiked Devils Garden, a 7.2-mile loop that contains 8 arches. Watch the video and check out the pictures to see what it’s all about. Upon completion we hit the road and headed back to SLC. What an awesome trip!
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