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Dead Horse Point - West Side Trails

The bike trail complex at Dead Horse Point has 18 miles of interconnecting trails. This review covers the newer trail complex west of Highway 313, completed in 2014. The new trails have doubled the size of the trail system to 18 miles and have made longer rides possible. (See the original review for more information on the east side trails.)

View south from the Whiptail Trail. Photos and trail review by Bruce on March 16, 2014.

The trails east of Highway 313 were completed in 2009. These include the Big Chief and Pyramid loops. 

The new west-side trails form interconnected loops that offer rides of varying length and difficulty. These trails are slightly more technical than those on the east side. The easiest trail on the west side is about as difficult as the hardest trail on the east side.

Not ready to start the ride yet. Checking out the view areas near the visitor's center.

There are four trails in the west side complex. They range from easier-intermediate (Crossroads) to solid intermediate (Whiptail) to upper-intermediate (Twisted Tree and Prickly Pair). All trails are reached by starting north on the Intrepid Trail. After 0.4 miles, there's a 4-way trail fork. Prickly Pair is the trail to the left. It heads across the highway and connects to the other west side trails.

This is where all the trails start. At the north end of the parking lot, on the Intrepid trail.

At the north end, Crossroads crosses the road (get it?) and connects to intermediate Big Chief northbound or the easy Raven Roll southbound. For intermediate riders, my recommendation would be the Big Loop. This 14-mile loop ride is simple to navigate:  to go clockwise, just fork left at every intersection, beginning to end. You can do it either direction. Counterclockwise is somewhat easier (especially on Big Chief) -- in which case, you simply fork to the right at every trail intersection.

The trail takes a curve on the Prickly portion of the Prickly Pair.

Compared to the trails on the east side, the west side paths are narrower and more twisty. Like the east side trails, there's significant "stand-off" distance from the cliffs, so parents won't be worried.

View to the west, looking at cliffs of Wingate sandstone with Chinle Formation skirts.

There are trail maps on signposts at every intersection. A short distance from the sign, each trail is marked on a post with its initials and a color swatch that corresponds to its color on the map. It's very hard to get lost.

Typical trail view on the Twisted Tree trail with dirt alternating with rock.

The trail altitude is around 6000 feet. It's usually at least 10 degrees cooler here than in Moab (1800 feet lower). Absolute altitude change over the riding area is less than 100 feet. Gentle up-and-down riding makes the total climbing 800 vertical feet over the length of the big outer loop. 

View to the south into Shafer Canyon.

There are no bathrooms on the west side trails. You'll find facilities at the visitor's center, or at the group area on the Raven Roll trail (east of the highway). There are several miles of hiking trails, well-separated from the bike trails.

Developed campgrounds are just northwest of the visitor's center. This is a good spot to bring your scouts for an overnight camp-and-bike.

In the distance to the west, spires are backlit by the lowering sun. We're on Whiptail.

Crossroads loop ride for beginners:
0.0   Intrepid from north end of parking
        N38 29.339 W109 44.179
0.4   L on Prickly Pair 
        N38 29.578 W109 43.980
0.5   Cross Highway 313
0.8   R on "Pair"
        N38 29.734 W109 44.296
1.6   Straight (R) as Prickly rejoins
        N38 30.273 W109 44.416
2.0   R to stay on Prickly Pair
        N38 30.483 W109 44.491
2.2   R on Crossroads
        N38 30.638 W109 44.548
3.3   Cross Highway 313
3.9   R on Raven Roll
        N38 30.707 W109 43.291
4.3   Pass group site N38 30.361 W109 43.481
4.5   Keep R (L = Pyramid)
        N38 30.279 W109 43.407
5.3   Keep R N38 29.641 W109 43.797
5.5   Keep straight onto Intrepid
        N38 29.578 W109 43.980
5.9   Back at parking

View east, looking toward the La Sal Mountains.

The excellent trail system at Dead Horse Point has turned this sleepy state park into a mountain biking destination. On the day of my visit, the trails were loaded with families and entry-level bikers. Almost every car in the lot had a bike rack, and the bulldozers were working to enlarge the parking area to accommodate more cyclists. It's worth your time, and worth the entry fee.
   
Big Loop (14 miles), riding instructions:
0.0   Intrepid from north end of parking
        N38 29.339 W109 44.179
0.4   L on Prickly Pair 
        N38 29.578 W109 43.980
0.5   Cross Highway 313
0.8   L on Prickly N38 29.734 W109 44.296
2.0   L as Pair rejoins N38 30.273 W109 44.416
2.4   L on Twisted Tree
        N38 30.483 W109 44.491
3.6   L on Whiptail N38 30.533 W109 45.261
4.9   Stay L (R = end of Twisted Tree)
        N38 30.611 W109 45.440
6.4   L (straight) onto Crossroads
        N38 30.638 W109 44.548
        (R = end of Prickly Pair)
7.5   Cross Highway 313
8.0   L on Big Chief N38 30.707 W109 43.291
11.7 L on Pyramid N38 30.243 W109 42.880
13.3 Stay L to Intrepid N38 29.626 W109 43.793
13.5 Stay L on Intrepid N38 29.578 W109 43.980
13.9 Back at parking
Getting there:  About 10 miles north of Moab, turn west off Highway 191 towards Canyonlands National Park on Highway 313. Drive 14 miles and turn left toward Dead Horse Point. Four miles later, pay your entry fee ($10 per car in 2014) at the gate house and drive another two miles to the visitors center. The trailhead is at the north end of the parking lot.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide, easy loop and Big Loop
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
    Multi-track file of individual trails   Big Chief Tour
    Big Outer Loop (14 miles)
High-res topo (includes all trails):  View 
Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to Moab area resources