Prickly Pair Loop

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 4.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Skill level: Intermediate
Elevation: 5800 - 5924 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Intrepid Trailhead
Fee: $10/vehicle
Attractions: Scenic mountain bike trail




The Prickly Pair is one of the newest mountain bike trails in the Dead Horse Point State Park near Moab, Utah. On the map above it is the trail that is dark blue in color. The name is an apparent play on words for a 'pair' of trails in an area where there is 'prickly' pear cactus. Prickly Pair is part of a new group of trails on the Shafer Canyon side of the park that open up a previously seldom visited area that has more of the spectacular scenery that Dead Horse Point is famous for. The other trails are Whiptail (yellow), Twisted Tree (maroon), and Crossroads (purple) which connects to a renamed portion of Big Chief (green) called Raven Roll (orange). All of the trails can be combined in various configurations for different hiking and mountain biking experiences.


All of the mountain bike trails at Dead Horse Point State Park begin at the Intrepid trailhead located at the far north end of the Visitor Center parking area. There is also an access point at the Group Campground and Yurt area. The Visitor Center, which is open daily year round, has restrooms with running water that are open 24x7 through an outside entrance. During spring, summer and early fall there is a concession stand that offers a variety of food items.


From the trailhead follow the easy to ride trail to the first intersection and take the left branch that heads west toward the Shafer Rim area.


After a short distance the trail crosses the highway.


The trail travels across an open flats where it drops down into the juniper woodland and comes to a fork. The left fork has a sign that says 'More Fun' if you go that direction. For this post we took the right fork so we could follow Prickly Pair to its far end and on the return trip we took the 'More Fun' route.


From the junction the trail crosses another flat area, goes over a small hill, and then meanders through some shallow washes and areas wooded with more Utah junipers. Other than a few sand traps, that are gradually becoming better compacted, the trail is still an easy ride.


At about the 1.6 mile point this branch of the Prickly Pair is rejoined by the 'More Fun' branch.


At the 2 mile point the Prickly Pair and Twisted Tree trails meet with Twisted Tree coming in on the left.


After another quarter mile this branch of the Prickly Pair trail ends at its junction with the Crossroads and Whiptail trails.


On the return trip we take the 'More Fun' branch of the Prickly Pair.


This branch of the trail comes closer to the Shafer Rim with its outstanding views. It also has more rock shelves and hairpin turns making it more technical in skill level. We saw youngsters going this way and they weren't walking their bikes anymore than some of the adults. There are really only 2 spots that present that much of a challenge anyway. The slideshow at the end of this post should have enough pictures to get a feel for the entire trail.


At least one branch of the Prickly Pair trail will probably get ridden just to get to and from the Twisted Tree and Whiptail trails. By the time we had completed all of the Shafer Rim trails we were very familiar with the Prickly Pair. While built with mountain bikers in mind the trails are also open to hikers. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.