Big Mesa

Rating: 
One-way distance: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5238 - 5500 feet
MTB Skill level: 
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hr. 45 mins.
Trailhead: Wipeout Hill
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic trail




The Big Mesa trail is located in the Navajo Rocks Mountain Bike Area north of Moab, Utah. Navajo Rocks consists of 5 interconnecting trails that were completed in December of 2014. The trails can be hiked or biked by themselves as out and backs or combined to create either one big loop or several smaller ones. Highway 313 runs right through the middle of the area and can be used to create even more options. The nearest camping to the Navajo Rocks area is either the Lone Mesa Group Site or the BLM's Horsethief Campground a mile or two further south.


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This post begins at the trailhead/parking area on Wipeout Hill which is near mile marker 16 of Highway 313.


The trail splits a little over a tenth of a mile from the trailhead where it takes the left branch and follows the purple stripes of paint that mark its path.


From the junction the trail goes along the rim until it reaches the red sandstone cliffs.


At that point the trail heads west along the base of the cliffs alternating between sections of slickrock and sand. At the time of this post the construction of the  Big Mesa trail was just completing and some of the sandy sections of the trail hadn't had much of a chance to get packed down.


The arduousness of the sandy sections of trail are offset by the natural beauty of the surrounding area.


Eventually the trail runs out of cliff to follow and it passes between a large boulder and the point of the cliff as though going through a gate where the terrain suddenly changes.


Now the trail is crossing sagebrush flats and expanses of Navajo sandstone slickrock.


After a sharp change in direction the trail travels along the slickrock rim of the hillside that overlooks and parallels the Mineral Bottom Road.


Just south of the spot where the trail drops off of the cliff to the road there is an old rock shelter up near the rim of the hill. The shelter isn't apparent unless you are standing at the bottom of the trail and looking up. Even then it blends in so well with its surroundings that it can still go unnoticed.


The Big Mesa trail comes to an end right across the road from the beginning of the Big Lonely trail. From this point the choices are either to turn around and retrace the route back to the trailhead, turn left and follow the Mineral Bottom Road up to Highway 313 and roll back to the trailhead from there, or continue on along the Big Lonely trail. For this post we continued and road the Big Lonely trail to its junction with the Coney Island trail and looped back to Wipeout Hill via that route for an 11 mile ride. Hikers would probably want to return the way they came for a hike with a total distance of 7 miles round trip. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.