Jackson Trail

One-way Distance: 2.3 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 3952 - 4562 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Amasa Back/Kane Creek
Fee: none
Attractions: Technical singletrack/dangerous cliff edges

The Jackson trail is located in the Amasa Back Trails area near Moab, Utah. The trail begins at the Kane Creek trailhead and ends at the Amasa Back/Cliffhanger Road. The trail gains almost 600 feet of elevation as it climbs from the Colorado River corridor to the upper rims of the cliffs that surround it. Enroute there are many very steep sections, sharp corners, and narrow ledges with dangerous cliff exposure.

This post begins at the top of the Jackson trail at the Amasa Back/Cliffhanger Road and follows it down to the Kane Creek trailhead. The top of the Jackson trail is about 3.8 miles from the beginning of the Amasa Back trail and a half mile from the start of the Pothole Arch trail. Note that the trail sign designates that the Jackson trail has 'Extremely Dangerous Cliff Exposure' and is 'Technical'.

The Jackson trail follows an old double track as it leaves the Cliffhanger Road and drops over the hill. There are several rocky ledges and lots of loose rock as the trail descends to its junction with the Rockstacker trail.

The Rockstacker trail junction comes up just over the quarter mile point.

After passing the Rockstacker junction the Jackson trail begins a gradual descent over broken slickrock. There is a trail sign followed by a warning sign for any motorized vehicles that may have come down the initial stretch of double track. The warning sign mentions the extreme cliff exposure that lies ahead.

The trail is pretty good for the next half mile or so with only minor areas of exposure as it lulls you into the feeling that the warning sign was much ado about nothing.

Eventually the much anticipated exposure comes up as the side of the mountain gets steeper and the bench that the trail is following gets much narrower.

Someone etched 'Death Riders' on the cliff near a tight bend. It seemed as suitable an idiom or moniker as any to apply to mountain bikers on the Jackson trail.

Although you can't make out the trail ahead until it gets down closer to the river it is going to stay fairly close to the edge until it reaches that spot.

One of the gotchas going in this direction are a couple of downhill sections where you will end up either in the river or splattered on the rocks below if you overshoot the trail.

Even though this trail is following one that may have been here for hundreds or even thousands of years there are still places that look like sooner or later the mountain side is going to slide off into the river.

As the trail progresses it eventually moves further away from the river and the cliffs give way to a sloping hillside. The trail still remains technical though with spots that require advanced skills or the willingness to walk.

The hairiest spot comes up at a series of very steep switchbacks that are much more treacherous going in the downhill direction.

The trail eventually makes it down into the bottoms and it is an easy roll to Kane Creek. There is an unnamed arch high up on the cliff along the way if that interests you any. Once you get to Kane Creek the easiest and shortest route to the trailhead is through the water.

The Colorado River can backup into Kane Creek when it is running high so if you are riding the big loop like we were, beginning at the Amasa Back trailhead and doing the tour de force by heading up Cliffhanger to Pothole Arch and then coming down Rockstacker and Jackson, you will need to stop here first to check and make sure it isn't flooded. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.