Burro Pass East

Round Trip Distance: 5.6 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 10,390 - 11,142 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 4 hrs. (hiking)
Trailhead: Geyser Pass/Whole Enchilada
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike/bike, scenic views

The Burro Pass trail is located in the La Sal Mountains near Moab, Utah. The trail serves as the first leg of the Whole Enchilada trail that begins in the La Sals and ends up down in Moab, The upper end of the Burro Pass trail begins off of the Geyser Spring Road where the trail climbs up to Burro Pass which crosses the saddle of the ridge between Haystack Mountain and Manns Peak. From the ridge the trail descends down to where it ends near Warner Campground. We have already posted the west side of the trail beginning at Warner Lake and ending at Burro Pass. This post covers the eastern approach to the pass.

To get to the trailhead from Moab drive south on Highway 191, measuring from Center and Main, for 7.8 miles and turn left onto the Old Airport Road. Follow the signs for the La Sal Mtn. Loop Road for another 12 miles and turn right onto the Geyser Pass Road. It is about 7.9 miles along a graveled road to the trailhead.

Almost everyone that does the Burro Pass trail are doing it as part of the Whole Enchilada mountain bike trail. Most of the riders catch one of the shuttles out of Moab that vary in price beginning at $30. Some of them are also renting the mountain bike they are riding. The rest of the riders typically arrange a shuttle with friends that they are riding the trail with. During good conditions the road is passable by passenger cars with normal clearance.

Mountain bikers and most hikers depart from the trailhead following a singletrack. There is also a jeep road that cuts about 1.5 miles off of the trail for those that might be heading for somewhere like Manns Peak.

After passing through some pine trees the trail cuts across a meadow below the Geyser Pass Yurt that available for renting year round.

Groves of aspens provide brief moments of shelter to the trail.

Near the 3/4 mile point the trail begins descending to the spot where it rejoins the 4x4 road giving up about 160 feet of elevation in the process.

Near the 1.7 mile point the trail comes to what might be the more official trailhead for the Burro Pass trail depending on which sign or map you happen to be looking at. The trail passes through a forest fence just past the trailhead. This spot can be driven to by a 4-wheel drive vehicle and there is a primitive campsite off to one side.

After going through the fence the trail travels along the stream for a bit and then begins climbing in earnest up a rocky slope. When there are large groups of riders that are all bunched up they tend to end up walking up this stretch of trail. There might be a psychological effect that leads to riders opting to walk when they see others off their bikes. When there are only a few riders together they seem more likely to be riding through here.

The trail becomes much more manageable after the steep rocky section.

The steepness of the final ridge assault leading up to the pass is mitigated by a couple of switchbacks.

On this day there had already been over 100 riders cross the pass. When the weather is nice it is a good place to stop for a break and take in the views. There is a side trail at the pass that leads over to Manns Peak and on over to Dry Fork. Manns Peak should be about another mile with Dry Fork about a mile past that.

Mount Tomasaki (12,230 feet) provides a nice backdrop to the basin the trail comes up on the east side of Burro Pass.

Any time that you can come up here is a good time. Early in the summer the hillsides are awash with wildflowers while later in the year the changing colors of the aspen trees highlight the scenery.

While taking the pictures for this post we opted to leave the mountain bikes in the truck and to hike the trail. The only other person that was going against the flow of mountain bikers and heading back to the Geyser Pass trailhead was someone carrying his busted bike. If you are strictly a hiker you can miss most of the mountain bikers in the afternoon. It really isn't a problem though as most everyone is very cordial and friendly. Being around so many other people that are having good clean fun can be good for the mind and Burro Pass is just the place for that sort of encounter. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.