||Malachite and Azurite Trails
Klondike Bluffs mountain biking area
The Malachite and Azurite
trails are new additions to the Klondike
Bluffs mountain biking area. These short trails offer an extended loop
option when riding Miner's Loop, or an
alternate route to upper Baby Steps for access
to the upper mountain. The trails lie at around 4900 feet elevation, with
a riding season of mid-March through November.
southwest on Azurite, as the singletrack rolls over a hump among broken
slabs of Salt Wash sandstone. Photos and trail tracks by Bruce
on April 11, 2016.
|Both trails begin on the upper (northeast) corner of Miner's
Loop and extend to the northeast. Malachite extends to the Baby
Steps South singletrack (for a continued route uphill), while Azurite
ends on Malachite 1/10th mile from the Baby Steps fork.
For short rides, the trails are quick to reach from the south Klondike
trailhead. The ride detailed below is 6 miles, and is the shortest path
that can hit these trails.
View west on Miner's Loop, from which
both of these trails branch.
When climbing Miner's Loop in the
recommended counter-clockwise direction, the Azurite trail is reached at
exactly one mile from the loop's start. The Azurite trail is 1.2 miles long,
ending on the Malachite trail just before Malachite reaches Baby Steps.
There's 50 feet of absolute
elevation gain when ridden south to north. A dip through a wide ravine
brings the overall climbing to just over 150 vertical feet south to north.
Looking northeast as we begin
climbing. The Klondike Bluffs route is on the white Entrada sandstone
right along the edge of the red dirt.
|The trail is 99% dirt ribbon. A couple of climbing turns --
where the tread tends to get a little loose -- bring the overall tech
rating to early-intermediate. But there's nothing tricky here. Any
intermediate rider who's skilled enough to pedal to the trail will find that
this segment of singletrack is very easy
Meandering through the Salt Wash
||The trail meanders through dirt skirts between the broad
white sandstone (Entrada Formation with a thin layer of overlying Curtis
Formation caprock) below and to the right, and the broken boulders
of the Salt Wash Sandstone of the Morrison Formation above on the left.
The trail is named for the blue gemstone azurite, a form of copper
carbonate hydroxide. (There are multiple small inactive copper mines in
the Klondike area, including the one you
saw from Miner's Loop. While I didn't see any azurite along the trail,
bits can be found in the mine tailings.)
Fun spot where the trail rolls up and
over a small rise under an overhang.
|You may see bikers and vehicles below you on the Klondike
Bluffs Trail, which hugs the edge of the sandstone to your right as
you climb northeast. If your plan is to go there, wait until you reach Baby
Steps then take the cutoff trail over to the sandstone. Stay on trail.
View to the north at the long cracks
in the sandstone. The brown stain on the closest rock is 4x4 tire
deposits from Klondike Bluffs.
||From the vantage point of the trail, it's easy to spot the
cracks in the sandstone plain that tilts upward towards Arches National
Park. The sandstone is the top of the massive colorful Entrada Sandstone
seen in Arches, covered by a layer of white Curtis Formation sandstone
glued over top. The vertical cracks were created as this area bulged upward. These
cracks encourage the development of arches and fins when the sandstone erodes, as seen in Arches National Park just to the east of you.
Just around the corner, we'll descend
into a wide ravine and climb up the other side.
|Like the Salt Wash sandstone chunks, the red slopes are part
of the Morrison Formation, probably the Tidwell member. You'll pass large boulders of agate eroding out of the dirt. Not exactly gem quality, but remember it's against
the law to collect from public land without a mining permit. Leave the pretty rocks and plants
where you found them.
Car keys for size perspective. Big
chunk of agate.
At its bottom (southwest) end, the Malachite Trail begins on Miner's
Loop, about 0.2 miles from Azurite. This trail is significantly more
technical than Azurite. It extends 0.9 miles from Miner's Loop to Baby
Steps. While there's only a little elevation gain south-to-north, the
trail dips through a valley, making the overall climbing around 200
View west about 1/4 mile from the top
of the trail. After a long flat cruise, we're about to drop in to the
|Malachite is more typical of the Klondike
area trails, in that it alternates rock and dirt as it runs the
western slope. The riding here is
upper-intermediate. The trail is marked
by light green stripes on slickrock areas.
Green is the color of the mineral malachite, also a form of copper
carbonate hydroxide. (Malachite has a 2 to 1 ratio of copper to carbonate,
while azurite has a 3 to 2 ratio.) Azurite and malachite form where copper
ore is exposed to oxidation, and are often found jumbled into the same
Looking uphill as the green trail
stripes make a turn on the slickrock.
||If you're riding both the Azurite and the Malachite trails
as a loop, I recommend the counterclockwise direction. Ride Azurite uphill
(northeast) from Miner's Loop, then take
Malachite southwest to return to the loop. Malachite is significantly
easier when done this direction. But it's good riding either
Riding through the ravine on dirt
singletrack. Now we have to climb back uphill.
|If you're just heading uphill to connect to Baby
Steps, the overall distances are close whether you chose to ride
Azurite or Malachite. Malachite will mean more
climbing, much of it a bit technical, so it's more fun. Azurite is easier
on the legs and significantly faster.
View west as we bounce down the
||You'll be treated to extended views to the west toward the
Blue Hills area. The La Sal Mountains form the skyline to the south.
Short trails with fun riding and nice views, creating new route options
for either destination rides (Baby Steps) or just puttering around.
As we join Miner's Loop again, we're
looking southeast at the La Sals.
|Riding notes, 6-mile loop from south
0.0 L to Inside Passage ST
N38 46.429 W109 42.764
0.4 Join DT (Klondike)
N38 46.686 W109 42.900
0.7 Stay R on DT (L = Jurassic)
N38 46.869 W109 43.064
0.9 Straight to ST (Dino Flow) as road forks
N38 46.997 W109 43.072
1.0 R on EKG N38 47.116 W109 42.981
1.2 R to Miner's Loop
N38 47.169 W109 42.943
1.25 Keep R as loop forks
N38 47.174 W109 42.916
|2.2 R on Azurite
N38 47.419 W109 42.449
3.4 L on Malachite
N38 47.792 W109 42.664
4.1 R on Miner's Loop
N38 47.496 W109 42.540
4.9 Keep straight (R), close loop
N38 47.174 W109 42.916
5.0 L on EKG N38 47.496 W109 42.540
5.1 L on Dino Flow N38 47.116 W109 42.981
5.2 Straight on DT N38 46.997 W109 43.072
5.7 R on Inside Passage N38 46.686 W109 42.900
6.1 Back at parking
||Getting there, main (southern) Klondike Bluffs
trailhead: Starting at the Colorado River, drive
15 miles north from Moab. Look for a turnout with parking on the right and
a sign for Klondike Bluffs Road. There will
usually be cars parked there (GPS N 38° 44.452' W 109°
44.037'). For a longer ride, park here and ride up the road.
Most cyclists will choose to go through the gate and drive 2.7 miles. Keep left at
the fork. At 2.8 miles, park your car in the broad parking area by the
fence. Begin your ride eastbound across the cattleguard, or hit the
singletrack Inside Passage in the northern corner of the parking area.
Toilet: Dinosaur Tracks parking
Camping: Not here
Information: Moab visitor's center
|Northern Klondike Trailheads: On Highway 191 8.5 miles
south of I-70 and 6.5 miles north of the southern Klondike Bluffs road
(about 5 miles north of the airport), watch for a "Northern
Klondike" sign at N38 49.504 W109 46.893. Turn east (toward the
sandstone bluff). Keep to the right as the road winds south around a small
Chilkoot Pass parking: 1.2 miles from the highway as the road is heading east toward the
bluff, the first parking zone is on your right. This is the Chilkoot Pass
Agate trail parking: Continue a few feet past the Chilkoot
parking. Fork right on a fainter jeep road N38 49.103 W109 46.061, as the
main road continues to the dinosaur tracks. At mile 1.6, you'll come to the TH for the
Jasper and Agate
loops (N38 49.087 W109 45.625) on your right.
Mega Steps parking: Keep going past Agate. At 2.0 miles, you're at the
bottom of Mega Steps at a larger parking area N38 49.179 W109 45.417.
Dinosaur Tracks parking: From 191, stay on the main Dinosaur
Tracks road. At the road fork at mile 1.2 above, keep left
on the main road toward the dinosaur tracks. About 1/2 mile further, turn
to the right into the parking area. The Dino Flow trail is up against the
mountain, to the left of the pit toilet.