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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.

View 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.

Azurite Trail

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 riding.

Meandering through the Salt Wash rubble.

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.

Malachite Trail

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 vertical feet. 

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 sandstone.

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 rock.

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 direction. 

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 escarpment.

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.

Bottom Line:
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 Klondike:
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.

Water: None
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 hill.
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 trail.
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.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide, short loop from south trailhead
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
   6-mile ride from south trailhead
   Multi-track GPX Klondike area trails 
   14 mile EKG - Miner's Loop plus Azurite/Malachite - Dino Loop
High-res topo for printing:   View Klondike area
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to Moab area resources

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