||Five Miles of Hell
Five Miles of Hell is the real name of this trail. But the
name is not completely accurate. There's really 7 miles of
Hell (gnarly, sick, and abusive technical riding), 2 miles of Purgatory (advanced-tech singletrack), and 11 miles of
Limbo (doubletrack with tire-sinking soft surface and some rough rock).
This trail is extreme, trials-level technical. Don't come to Hell unless
you're Damned -- damned good at tech riding, that is.
This is the trail -- rough and tricky,
but fairly easy to follow. White stripes painted on the sandstone mark the
trail. Photo November 13, 2002 by Bruce.
|The loop described here is 20.6 miles. Peak altitude is
6700, bottom 6000, but with constant up-and-down riding, your climbing
will be around 2000 vertical feet. The loop starts with 3 miles of
doubletrack, then a mile on the upper-intermediate Red Trail. After 7
vicious miles on Five Miles of Hell, there's 1 intermediate-tech mile to
trail's end. Then you grind back on doubletrack to complete the loop.
Allow at least 5 hours.
The Coconino Sandstone on the Five
Miles of Hell Trail erodes into fins, ledges, and steep washes. Gut check. Bruce rolls a steep
||To envision how tough this trail is, imagine the toughest,
trickiest 50 feet of Gooseberry Mesa. Add a tricky steep spot from The
Portal. Add that same Portal section again, but make it uphill. Repeat over and over again for 7 miles.
Throw in the deepest
sand pits from Slickrock, but make them longer, softer, and deeper. Add a
few of Poison Spider's worst sand-to-wall, wall-to-sand transitions. Get the
throws his wheel up over a ledge during an uphill attack. A trials maneuver, or
just showing off for the camera?
|This trail is best in spring and fall, when the temperatures
are moderate. This is a rough, long trail that demands a lot of work. In
mid-summer, you'll find it difficult to haul enough water to complete this
Looking over a wash about 2 miles into
the ride. We're going to work down those rock ledges to the bottom, then
up the other side!
||The riding surface is Coconino sandstone (deposited near the
ocean shoreline during the Permian Period, about 250 million years ago). Although a tad
smoother in grain than the Navajo sandstone of Slickrock, Coconino has
cross-hatching "ribs" that create lots of ledges and rough
spots. For more info, see our page on the geology
of the San Rafael.
The UMB riders (front to back) Matt,
and Dom work along 5MOH. There are no
"sit back and roll" sections. This trail is unrelenting!
|I recommend a freeride bike for this trail. (You can ride
it on a light cross-country bike -- I did -- or even a hardtail -- I did,
after I ruptured a seal and lost all the air out of the rear shock.) Soft-rubber, low-pressure tires will
help. Many climbs are extremely difficult, intended for trials motocross.
prepares to post a turn as he works up the sandstone.
There's a lot of fun here. But expect to walk your bike a
little. (If you think you're an "advanced technical rider"
because you rode Slickrock once on a rented bike... Well, bring
comfortable hiking shoes, and a bike that's easy to carry.) To ride the
whole loop is exhausting. The bailouts give the option of a shorter ride.
Here's Bruce coming down, as rock fins
point up against the front tire. Ready to endo?
With the right muscles,
endurance, and nerve, this trail offers a lot of fun.
|Which brings us to: Trail Sanity. Be sure you have patches,
spare tube, pump, tool kit, and plenty of food and water. And don't ride
this trail alone. (OK, I rode alone when I explored this trail. But I'm deranged, and have lots of
life insurance.) In Five Miles of Hell, you're miles from the Middle of
Nowhere. In a visit to 5MOH in fall of 2002, no human or machine had
disturbed my tire tracks from 10 days earlier. That's a long time to wait
0.0 Head east on DT
N 38° 47.340' W 110° 42.583'
0.5 Keep straight (L)
1.4 Fork R (L = return)
N 38° 47.232' W 110°
3.0 DT ends, sign-in trail box
N 38° 46.200' W 110° 40.865'
Straight S on ST, follow red
4.0 Fork hard L (white dashes) at sign
N 38° 45.780' W 110° 40.190'
4.5 sand dig, 5.2 sand dig
5.7 Drop through deep canyon (sand dig)
5.9 Bailout at ridge ("Out" and arrow on rock)
N 38° 46.409' W 110° 39.689'
R to continue
|6.9 Small slot canyon, sand dig
7.2 Bailout at ridge ("Out" and arrow on rock)
N 38° 45.942' W 110° 39.399'
R to continue
8.1 Southernmost tip, start going north
8.7 Bailout in wash ("Out" and arrow on rock)
N 38° 45.783' W 110° 38.996'
R (east) down wash to continue
8.8 Ravine, sand. Again at 9.6 and 10.5
12.1 ST drops to rock-bottom wash, trail box
N 38° 45.208' W 110° 36.951'
L up wash 100 feet
Climb out on R (cairns) to ATV
19.3 At fork (see 1.4), keep straight
20.6 Back at vehicle
||Getting there: On US-6 approaching Green River,
turn right (westbound) on I-70. Drive 25 miles and exit at Ranch Exit 131
(formerly known as 129 -- the numbering has changed). If you're going eastbound, the exit is 75 miles east of
Salina. Turn left under the freeway, then veer right with the road. Keep straight
at all intersections. Note a first cattle guard at mile 3.2. After
crossing a second cattle guard at 6.7, descend and turn left on a small
road at mile 7.6. Park on the left 0.1 miles down the road, just before
the wash, N 38° 47.340' W 110° 42.583'. Begin the ride by continuing on
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