Whiptail/Twisted Tree

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 9 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Skill level: Intermediate/Difficult
Elevation: 5809 - 5967 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Intrepid
Fee: $10/vehicle
Attractions: Scenic mountain bike trails




The Whiptail and Twisted Tree trails are located in the Dead Horse Point State Park near Moab, Utah. The two trails are part of the Shafer Rim mountain bike trails that have been added to the Intrepid Mountain Bike Trail System at the park. For this post we combined the Whiptail (yellow), Twisted Tree (maroon) and the eastern branch of the Prickly Pair (dark blue) trails to create a single route of about 9 miles. This route includes some incredible scenery from overlooks along the Shafer Rim. Minor elevation changes occur where the trails crosses shallow washes and small benches.


All trails in the area begin at the Intrepid trailhead at the far north end of the Visitor Center parking area.


Follow the Intrepid trail for about 4 tenths of a mile and take the left fork at the first junction pointed out by the Shafer Rim Trails in the photo. This is the beginning of the Prickly Pair trail. The name Prickly Pair is apparently a play on words that takes into account that two branches of the trail make a 'pair' and the area has many prickly 'pear' cactus.


The trail crosses the highway after a tenth of a mile and continues on an easy trail through short desert shrubs. At about 8 tenths of a mile the trail forks. For this post we followed the right hand branch of the Prickly Pair trail which is both the shorter and easier route.


Continue along the east branch of the Prickly Pair. The More Fun branch rejoins the main route at about the 1.6 mile point and at the 2 mile point the Prickly Pair trail is joined by the Twisted Tree trail. This is where we begin our loop.


At about the 2.25 mile point the Prickly Pair trail ends at its junction with the Crossroads trail, on the right, and the beginning of the Whiptail trail on the left.


The Whiptail trail makes a fun meander through sagebrush and junipers, crossing small washes, and traveling through many scenic settings as it works its way toward the northwest area of Dead Horse Point State Park.


Near the 3.75 mile point from the Visitor Center the trail comes to its first junction with the Twisted Tree trail. One option here would be to go left on the Twisted Tree trail and cut the loop short. For this post we continued around the Whiptail trail to its end at the next junction with the Twisted Tree trail where we followed Twisted Tree back to this point and then turned around and rode it back the other direction to its junction with the Prickly Pair trail.


Near the 4.4 mile point the Whiptail trail reaches its furthest point west where it makes a hairpin turn back toward the east and begins paralleling the Shafer Rim.


Most of this part of the trail is an easy ride with a mix of slickrock and red dirt.


The Whiptail trail comes to an end when it once again meets up with the Twisted Tree trail at the 5 mile point.


While riding the up and back to the first Whiptail/Twisted Tree junction we came upon a 'twisted tree' that looked like a good candidate for the trails namesake. This part of the trail was also well worth taking the time to ride. It added a little less than 3/4 of a mile to the total distance.


The Twisted Tree trail crosses a wash that leads to a scenic overlook of this part of Shafer Canyon. The walk to the rim is only about 50 yards or so. If you came this far you've got to be sure not to pass up the view from here.


Most of the Twisted Tree trail is an easy ride but there are a couple of spots that are a little more technical. No shame in walking your bike every now and then.


The Twisted Tree trail comes to and end when it meets the Prickly Pair trail just under the 7 mile point.


For those that feel the need to lengthen the trail a little there is the option to take the More Fun section of the Prickly Pair trail on the way back to the trailhead. It will add about a half mile or so to the total distance. The Whiptail and Twisted Tree trails are great additions to the trails on the Intrepid side of the park and they make good use of the northwest corner of Dead Horse Point State Park. If you would like to see them for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.