Slickrock Bike Trail

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 9.7 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous +
Skill level:
Elevation: 4441 - 4810 feet
Cellphone: 2-5 bars
Time: 4 hrs. 15 mins.
Trailhead: Slickrock
Fee: $5/vehicle
Attractions: Scenic but demanding trail




The Slickrock Bike Trail is located in the Sand Flats Recreation Area at Moab, Utah. The trail makes an epic loop across a sea of sandstone domes that are sure to satisfy even the most hardcore mountain biker. The trail is also open to dirt bikes and we would have to imagine that they find the trail equally pleasing. Advanced riding skills are required to complete the trail without a lot of walking although most everyone ends up off their bike at some point. The Slickrock Practice Loop located near the trailhead is a good place to get an idea of some of the challenges one might expect.


The easiest route to the trailhead is probably to turn east on Center Street while driving through Moab on Highway 191 and follow the signs for the Sand Flats Recreation Area and Slickrock. Maps are available at the Visitor Center on Center Street and at the entrance station where you pay your fee.


After leaving the trailhead a sign informs riders of what to expect. The trail also sees a few hikers and trail runners so the advice for them would be to take plenty of water.


The Practice Loop begins a short distance from the trailhead.


From there the riding is pretty easy up to the point where the Practice Loop rejoins the main trail. After that the hills begin getting a little steeper with an occasional more technical spot here and there.


Jeep trails also run through the area and in several places the mountain bike and 4x4 trails cross each other. The jeeps are a fun diversion to watch them grind their way over the rocks.


The domes of slickrock roll on like the waves of the sea waiting to be conquered by the next rider that comes along. It can be nice to be physically challenged by a trail and it never hurts to also be awed by its beauty.


The trail splits and begins a loop around the 2.1 mile point. The Sand Flats brochure recommends riding the loop in the clockwise direction.


From the fork the trail continues to gain a little elevation but it is gentle enough that the riding is much easier for awhile.


The route crosses over onto private property and the trail makes a very steep climb up a fin.


The stretch of the trail through the private property is dotted with sections of zip lines where customers are taken around the course from one station to the next riding the wires from hill to hill.


A short out and back to an overlook provides some spectacular views of the Moab Valley.


Unfortunately people do have accidents from time to time so make sure your helmet is properly fitted.


From the overlook the trail begins looping toward the east above the Colorado River and Highway 128. Arches National Park is just across the river and a few of its arches can be spotted off in the distance. Near the 6 mile point the Slickrock trail turns more to the south and travels around a prominent feature called Shrimp Rock. The Colorado River can be seen displaying a laminar flow coming down a long stretch of the canyon. On the right the trailhead for the Negro Bill Canyon trail and Morning Glory Bridge is full of vehicles. The Porcupine Rim trail can also be seen where it comes to an end after its eleven and a half mile run from the top. (If you click on any of these pictures you can see the high resolution image.)


As the loop comes to a close the riding becomes a little easier without a lot of dramatic elevation changes. From there its all retracing the route back to the trailhead.


The dirt bikes were vastly outnumbered by the mountain bikers and neither one seemed to be getting in the others way.


Not every rider was doing the whole epic loop but all seemed to enjoy their time here just the same. This group of mondo mini riders was looking for a place to have a picnic.


Here is what the profile map looks like for the Slickrock trail.


Not everyone that comes here does the whole loop but instead turn around at various points. We saw a few spots that we thought there was no way a person could ride that and then here someone would come and prove us wrong. Whether hiking or biking the Slickrock trail can be a real pleaser. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.