The Above Abyss trail is an official alternate route at the Slickrock
trail. The trail is 2.3 miles long, joining the main outgoing Slickrock
trail to the northeast corner of the Slickrock Loop. The ride offers some
nice views, with somewhat easier riding than the main trail.
Bruce heads toward the La Sal Mountains early on
Above Abyss. Photos and review May 29, 2019 by Bruce.
Above Abyss can be done as a longer version of the Slickrock
trail, bypassing one mile of the main trail that includes the main loop
fork. Or, you can do Above Abyss as your destination ride, turning back
once you hit Slickrock. If you do the practice loop then
Above Abyss before heading back on the main route, it makes a nice lariat
ride of 8.1 miles and 2000 vertical feet of climbing.
Some of the riding resembles the easier stretches of
Slickrock, while other spots are unique.
At this time (2019), the hardest thing about riding Above
Abyss is finding it. So pay attention to the following instructions!
On the outgoing Slickrock trail,
you'll get briefly entangled with the Hell's Revenge 4x4 trail at mile
1.7. As you get away from the 4x4 route, you'll do 3 steep climbs. At the
ridge after the third climb, you'll see the trail turn 90 degrees to the
right and drop very steeply down and across the 4x4 path. But don't turn
Here's what you'll see to your right. The trail goes
down and across Hell's Revenge. But keep pedaling straight and you'll find
You're now almost exactly one mile past the second practice
loop fork, or mile 1.8 from the trailhead if you came via the main trail.
Ignore the descending trail to your right and instead pedal straight ahead
on top of the fin of rock. After about 30 feet, you'll notice the first
paint dot on the rock. Follow the dots. In about 1/10th mile, you'll hit
the first little trail sign confirming that you're on the trail.
Cruising an easier stretch.
The trail is fairly easy to follow once you find it. If you
lose the paint dots while riding fast and eyeballing the scenery, backtrack a bit to see where you
lost the riding line.
At mile 0.9 of Above Abyss, the trail gets close to the Hell's Revenge
4x4 route. Keep to the right at anything that looks like a connecting
route. I didn't find anything confusing here.
trail is marked pretty well, but the markings begin quite a distance away
from other trails and 4x4 routes.
As mentioned, the riding is significantly easier than many
areas of the Slickrock trail. Climbs are short, with nothing near as steep
as the slopes you struggled up before entering Above Abyss. There are a
couple of wheel-trap dips as you first start the trail, but otherwise it's
a very non-tricky ride.
A bit of unsettled weather approaches the La Sal
You'll have frequent views into the canyon and of the La
Sals. At mile 1.4, there's a nice viewpoint as the trail turns from
northbound to westbound on the edge of the canyon. It's worth a stop here.
Approaching a viewpoint with 270 degrees of canyon
views at the northeast corner of Above Abyss.
At mile 1.6 Above Abyss crosses the Hell's Revenge 4x4 path.
As you hit the blackened 4x4 route, keep straight and head onto the rock
on the other side. (Have faith. You won't see any sign of the continuing
trail until you've gone about 50 feet.)
One stretch of Above Abyss gets into the upper layers
of Navajo, when the climate was changing and the ocean was encroaching on
the desert dunes. This zone is whiter, gnarled, and shows signs of ancient
Above Abyss will now skirt the head of Icebox Canyon at
around mile 1.9. The
views here are awesome. At the far side of the canyon, watch for a painted
trail fork on the rock. To the right is a 200-foot spur to overlook the
canyon. Left is the way out.
Riding past the head of Icebox Canyon, with a bit of
Colorado River visible.
About 100 yards after the trail fork for the overlook spur,
there's a second trail fork painted onto the rock. (The circle designates
a fork, with the dots outside the circle showing the possible riding
directions.) Straight and right is a short 1/10th mile
connector to the main Slickrock trail. Use this if you're planning to
finish the main Slickrock loop counterclockwise.
Pedaling away from Icebox.
The left fork goes 0.2 miles to the Slickrock trail, and would be your
preferred path if you're heading back to the trailhead. This route is also
prettier and more fun. As you reach the
main Slickrock trail, fork left. After one mile, you'll hit the main loop
fork. Go left to head for parking.
If you're riding the main loop clockwise, finding the Icebox Canyon
connector is a bit harder because of a lack of landmarks. Starting about 1/2 mile after Shrimp Rock,
watch carefully on your left for paint spots on the rock. You have two
chances to find a trail. Or use GPS (tracks downloadable below).
Handlebar view on the left fork, as we head toward
the main Slickrock loop.
Nice trail. Not too difficult compared to Slickrock overall. Makes a
nice alternative ride if you're bored with the main trail, or extra miles
if you're one of those superhumans who aren't challenged enough by the
At the Icebox Canyon viewpoint.
A trail video of Above
If the above video does not appear on your
browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking
Getting there: The Slickrock Trail begins
on the Sand
Flats Road just east of town, reached by turning left off Moab's main drag onto 300 South, then right when
the road ends, then second left. From the entry gate (where you pay your fee), drive about
0.6 mile. You'll see a large parking lot on the left, with bathrooms (but no water.)