The Mustang Loop lies along Highway 313 northwest of Moab. It's part of
the Horsethief Area trail system built
in 2015, and is the key to the mountain bike riding area. The loop's top
altitude is 5950 feet, with a usual riding season of April through
November. The loop is intermediate in technical requirement.
trail view on Mustang looking east toward the La Sals, as smooth slickrock
alternates with hardpacked dirt singletrack. Ride review and photos by Bruce
on October 28, 2015.
|You must take a connecting trail to reach Mustang. There are
nearby trailheads from above the loop (Chisholm and Getaway) and
(Bull Run -
Most riders will choose the Highway 313 (Chisholm Trail) trailhead.
This parking area is 12 miles uphill from 313's origin on Highway 191, 9
miles north of Moab. The Chisholm Trail
passes through this trailhead and will deliver you to the Mustang Loop in
Looking east from the
Chisholm trailhead on Highway 313. To head for Mustang, follow the
singletrack around the stock pond.
||Many riders start at the new upper Getaway
trail, located at
the start of the Gemini Bridges dirt road as it leaves Highway 313. In 0.6
miles, the "handle" of the Mustang Loop forks off of Getaway.
Another option for reaching the Mustang Loop is to climb uphill from 7-up.
The top of 7-up heads northbound from the Bull Run
trailhead (1.1 miles down the Gemini Bridges road). From 7-up, you can
climb Wildcat, Hildalgo, or the Whirlwind
trail to reach Mustang.
from the Getaway Trail parking area along the Gemini Bridges road.
|The Mustang Loop is shaped like a lariat, with the tail
portion facing south -- and connecting to the Getaway trail. The loop
portion is three miles around, and the "tail" is 0.2 miles.
There's 300 feet of elevation change from the top of the loop (5950 feet
altitude) and the bottom.
View on the handle of Mustang just
after it forks northbound off of Getaway.
||The surface is hardpacked dirt singletrack alternating with
Entrada sandstone. On rock, the route is marked with yellow paint stripes.
Overall, the trail is an early-intermediate in techical
requirement, but experienced beginners can manage -- with perhaps a couple
of "I think I'll walk this" spots.
Climbing up and around a couple of
outcrops as we ride clockwise around the Mustang Loop toward the fork with
the Chisholm trail.
|On entering the area from the Chisholm
Trailhead you'll head downhill on Chisholm 0.5 miles -- with around 50 feet of elevation
loss -- to reach the Mustang Loop. If you fork to the left for the clockwise ride, you'll enter a long
smooth rock-and-dirt downhill heading northeast. At 0.8 miles from this
fork, you'll reach your first riding option as you hit the northern leg of
the Whirlwind Loop. (Forking left here would
take you on a clockwise ride around Whirlwind; right is the combined route
of both loops.)
Descending the northern side of the
Mustang Loop. On the skyline center are Monitor and Merrimac, buttes of
||The two trails join for about 1/10 mile as Mustang descends
through its arguably most-technical spot. Then the southern limb of the Whirlwind
Loop forks away to the left.
The area features a mix of juniper and
pinion pine, with bitterbrush, sage, and the occasional Brigham Tea.
|If you want to ride the other loop option -- Wildcat
and Hildalgo -- you'll fork downhill to the left on Whirlwind. Wildcat
forks off Whirlwind about 1/10 mile downhill. In turn, Hildalgo forks off
Wildcat after another 0.2 downhill miles.
Looking at the La Sal Mountains to the
southeast, already covered in early-fall snow.
|After passing the Whirlwind forks, Mustang continues
clockwise and begins a gentle climb. You'll regain 250 vertical feet over
the next 1.3 miles. Now you'll reach the trail fork for the
"handle" of the lariat. If you're heading for Getaway, fork to
To loop back around to Chisholm, keep right. It's 0.6 miles and 50
vertical feet of climbing to get back to the Chisholm Trail fork.
Climbing uphill on the southwest side
of the Mustang Loop.
Very nicely built trail with fun (and fast) riding. While great for solid
intermediate riders, it can be managed by experienced beginners. The
additional area trails -- that you access via the Mustang Loop -- make
this a great destination for a day's riding.
Looking to the east as we ride along a
|Riding notes, Mustang Loop clockwise from
0.0 East from 313 (Chisholm) TH
N38 34.866 W109 47.857
0.5 L on Mustang Loop
N38 35.088 W109 47.586
1.3 Keep R (L = Whirlwind joins)
N38 35.501 W109 47.388
|1.4 Keep R (L = Whirlwind leaves)
N38 35.499 W109 47.308
2.7 Keep R (L = toward Getaway)
N38 34.909 W109 47.267
3.3 L on Chisholm N38 35.088 W109 47.586
3.8 Back at parking
||Getting there: From I-70 and Crescent Junction, drive south on US-191 for 20 miles (about
9 miles north of the Colorado River if you're driving out from Moab) to
Highway 313. Drive uphill 11 miles.
Horsethief Campground: On your left at mile 11.8 from Highway
191. Use this trailhead only if you're camping. There is no general
trailhead parking here. After claiming your camp spot, pedal to the east
end of the eastern camping loop and fork south on the Chisholm Trail.
Highway 313 (Chisholm) Trailhead: At mile 12.5, spot the
trailhead kiosk on the left side of the road. Turn into parking. Pedal
east (away from the highway) on Chisholm to intercept the Mustang Loop in
Gemini Bridges Road (Getaway) Trailhead: For longer rides of
the area trails. At mile 12.9, turn left at the Gemini Bridges sign. About
200 feet from the pavement, spot a small parking area on your left with
the Getaway Trail just east of parking. Mustang forks away from Getaway
0.6 miles from the trailhead.
Bull Run Trailhead: Drive 1.1 miles down the Gemini Bridges
dirt road, then turn right into the trailhead. Start your ride to the
Horsethief Area trails by heading left on 7up.