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Sidestep North, Instep, and Sidestep South Trails
Klondike Bluffs mountain bike riding area

The Sidestep and Instep trails are alternate paths along Baby Steps in the Klondike riding area. Sidestep North and South are fairly technical, comparable to EKG in difficulty. Instep is more of a dirt ribbon. The trails are useful either as fun alternates to the most boring section of Baby Steps South, or as a standalone technical lariat loop.

Looking southwest as Sidestep South rounds the mountain top. Photos and ride review by Bruce on April 11, 2016.

For most riders, the jump-off for these trails will be the intersection of EKG with Baby Steps South. At this intersection, Sidestep North angles northeast and will be the climbing route for the 7-1/2 mile lariat loop ride described below.

Ah, spring time in the desert.

Sidestep North Trail

The Sidestep North trail's downhill end is at the intersection of Baby Steps South with the EKG trail. The route is marked on slickrock with purple paint stripes. It meanders uphill through some fairly technical terrain, and would rank upper-intermediate in skill requirement.

Just getting started uphill on Sidestep North. The purple paint marks the way over the sandstone. 

The trail is 0.8 miles long but has almost 200 vertical feet of climbing over its length. The uphill end ties in to Baby Steps South on the second singletrack meander (2.4 miles uphill from the EKG/Baby Steps intersection). Taking this route directly to Baby Steps as an uphill route would cut 1.6 miles (for example, when heading for UFO).

A reinforced singletrack ramp.

Sidestep North can also add distance and fun to Baby Steps when combined with Instep. Instep forks away from Sidestep North about 100 feet from upper Baby Steps and descends to Baby Steps in the valley. It rejoins right where the boring desert doubletrack turns into singletrack.

Grinding uphill, looking east.

So by combining Sidestep North and Instep (instead of the classic Baby Steps route) you skip 0.5 miles of Baby Steps' washbottom and flat doubletrack. Instead, you substitute 1.6 miles of fun singletrack.

This is the section of Baby Steps that you will skip via either of the Sidestep trails. One look at this photo should make you decide you'll ride the Sidestep alternates.

Sidestep North climbs to a ridgeline. To the west are uninterrupted views down the Salt Wash sandstone surface towards Blue Hills. You'll see the La Sal Mountains to the south. It's a pretty ride, and I highly recommend it as a side-option to Baby Steps.

Looking downhill to the west.

If your goal was to get up the mountain quickly, Sidestep North will put you on the Baby Steps Loop at loop mile 2.8 from Copper Ridge Road (but you put in only 1.3 miles to get there). From this spot, UFO is only 0.9 miles further uphill on Baby Steps.

View west from the intersection with Baby Steps at the top of Sidestep North. The post on the ridge is the Instep trail.

Instep Trail

Instep forks away from Sidestep North about 100 feet from the trail's end on Baby Steps. While I feature it as a descending connector in the loop ride below, Instep can also be used as a shortcut for Baby Steps, climbing from the doubletrack in the valley up to the second meander.

Heading out on Instep from Sidestep North (looking west).

Instep is 0.8 miles in length. When used to shortcut Baby Steps -- climbing from the bottom of Instep on the Baby Steps doubletrack to the top of Sidestep North -- it replaces 1.8 miles of Baby Steps. So it can be another way of getting up the mountain more quickly.

The trail hugs the sideslope as it turns to descend into the valley. We're looking southeast.

For the loop ride below, you'll descend a meandering dirt singletrack. The track is solid intermediate in technical requirement. You'll drop about 100 vertical feet; vertical you earned while climbing up the technical rock of Sidestep North.

Trail view as it meanders down from the ridgeline.

Instep hits Baby Steps right where the old eastbound doubletrack diverts onto southbound singletrack. Keep straight to join Baby Steps. After just over 1/10 mile, the singletrack will climb to a ridgeline. Here Baby Steps turns east, while Sidestep South forks to the right southwest.

Once in the valley, the trail curves around the edge of the slope as it heads over towards Baby Steps to the south.

If your plan was to extend your Baby Steps Loop ride, head left on the Baby Steps singletrack.

To make the Sidestep lariat loop ride, fork to the right and climb uphill on Sidestep South.

We're southbound on Baby Steps now. The post on the ridgeline is the trail fork for Sidestep South.

Sidestep South Trail

Sidestep South is the most technical trail of the ride. It's a bit steeper and the rock is a little meaner, as the trail heads over a little mountain. This section is 0.7 miles in length. It can be done either direction -- with dirt on a short uphill when done east-to-west, and a longer climb on undulating rock on the uphill when ridden from the west (downhill) side.

Heading southwest up the hill on the clockwise loop ride.

Sidestep South can be used as a climbing route to bypass the boring half-mile of Baby Steps doubletrack. It can be found by pedaling up Baby Steps 1/10th mile from the EKG intersection. But it's not a shortcut. The distance will be a hair longer and the riding will be much more fun and technical. The eastern end is 75 feet higher, but the trail rolls up and over a rough hill, so the vertical climbing totals 150 when done west-to-east.

Typical trail climbing eastbound on Sidestep South from Baby Steps in the wash.

My route uses Sidestep South as a return path to close the loop. In this direction, Sidestep South meanders on dirt singletrack up and around the mountain, then drops over somewhat technical rock to Baby Steps in the wash. From there, it's a short jaunt back to the EKG/Baby Steps intersection.

View south at the La Sal Mountains as the trail curves on a ledge.

The recommended lariat ride is 7.6 miles in length with around 500 vertical feet of climbing overall. Starting at the Klondike South trailhead, take Inside Passage, then the Klondike doubletrack to Dino Flow at the fork. Hop on EKG and ride some technical trail up to the Baby Steps intersection, where you'll follow the purple paint onto Sidestep North.

There are trail maps at every intersection, and the paint trail markings are color-coded to correspond to the map. The riding area has multiple options, but it's hard to get lost.

Cruising across the top of the hill.

Bottom Line:
Very nice trails that yield some great new riding options, either as shortcuts, ride extensions, or by themselves as a loop. Highly recommended for those who like the terrain in the Klondike area.

Riding notes, lariat 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   L (R = Miner's Loop)
        N38 47.169 W109 42.943
1.8   Rejoin Dino Flow, dip, R on EKG
        N38 47.372 W109 43.260
2.5   Baby Steps, NE on Sidestep N
        N38 47.751 W109 43.293
2.6   Keep L (R = to Baby Steps)
        N38 47.823 W109 43.254
3.3   R on Instep N38 48.130 W109 43.035
4.1   Straight on Baby Steps ST
        N38 48.021 W109 42.880
4.2   R on Sidestep S
        N38 47.905 W109 42.858
4.9   L down wash
        N38 47.832 W109 43.171
5.1   Fork L on EKG N38 47.751 W109 43.293
5.8   Dino Flow dip, L on EKG
        N38 47.372 W109 43.260
6.4   Stay R (L = Miner's Loop)
6.6   L on Dino Flow
7.6   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 drive the road. Go 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, lariat loop
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
   Lariat loop from south trailhead
   Multi-track GPX Klondike area trails 
High-res topo for printing:   View Klondike area
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to Moab area resources

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