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Sovereign Singletrack

The Sovereign Singletrack has become one of the top trails of the Moab area. This narrow singletrack trail combines dirt, open rock, ledges, climbs, and views. Consider this an intermediate to advanced trail, moderately strenuous.

Riders cruise along narrow singletrack, heading for the next section of technical rock. Photos by Bruce, May 5, 2003. Updated 2009.

The newer Salt Wash Singletrack to the west of Sovereign is connected to Sovereign in multiple spots, offering many different ride options. Salt Wash actually displaced portions of Sovereign, so in 2008 things got a little more confusing. There are several riding options, depending on your taste for adventure (and on your tolerance for sand).

North to South is easier, and all of the riders I encountered on my exploration rides were going that way. Some went up Dalton Wells Road to catch the southern 6 miles of the singletrack, others forked left from the upper parking area to claim an extra 2.3 miles of singletrack. Most elected to make the return loop by means of the highway. But this is a new trail -- riders are going to vote for the best ride option with their bike tires.

Section of open rock on the southern end of the trail. The trail is marked with blue spots painted on rock.

My recommendation for advanced riders is the 16.5-mile Lariat Loop from Willow Springs Road. From the trailhead (2 miles from the highway), ride the awesome singletrack 6 miles north. At Dalton Wells Road, cross into the small wash and follow the singletrack another 2.3 miles. Turn right on dirt road, forking off the larger road after 0.4 miles. After a mile on DT, you enter a huge tilted slickrock area. Play all you want, then exit on the Dalton Wells Road about a mile southwest. Turn off the DW Road back onto the singletrack to do the first 6 miles of trail in the opposite direction!

Barrel cactus in full bloom along the Sovereign Trail.

If you absolutely MUST ride a loop, I suggest the 10.5 mile Sovereign to Salt Wash loop (see the Salt Wash page) for advanced riders. There's also the 15-mile Pipeline Loop. This loop offers a bit more riding on the slickrock area, but you'll spend your last 2 miles bombing down a rocky pipeline service road. This loop can be shortened to 11 miles by turning right on Dalton Wells Road at mile 6. 

The 14-mile Dalton Loop runs the singletrack from north to south, returning via an often sandy doubletrack (very fat tires and thighs of steel recommended), or by riding to the highway on Willow Springs Road and heading up to Dalton Wells Road 1 mile north.

Rolling onward along the trail...

And of course, you can ride the trail from either trailhead as an out-and-back. Or you can bring a second vehicle and ride it as a one-way.

View to the west. The singletrack may keep your eyes from noticing the scenery.

You'll ride through layers of rock from the middle to late Jurassic Period (208 to 144 million years ago). The white Curtis Formation sandstone caps the underlying Entrada. You'll ride through ledges and shales of the Summerville Formation, to the chunky caprock of white Salt Wash sandstone from the Morrison Formation at the high point of the ride.

View to the north, just before dropping down to the Dalton Wells Road. The broad area of white rock is the far side of the lariat loop -- we'll skirt the west side of it on the way out, then cross it on the way back. In the distance, Entrada sandstone protrudes near the border of Arches National Park.

The big green mountain at the north end of the ride is shale and clay from the later Morrison Formation, capped by the dark rough Buckhorn Comglomerate of the early Cretaceous Period.

Bruce descends towards Dalton Wells Road.

This ride has a good sampling of every type of riding -- fast singletrack, technical sections, sand digs, steep drops, stiff climbs, open slickrock. You're going to like this trail!

Handlebar view on the open slickrock section. Stay and play. You can find some ledge drops and technical challenges in the washes that cut through this area.

For strong riders, the Cedar Mountain Upper Sovereign Loop can be added. This is narrow rough singletrack, and isn't for everyone.

If you're northbound on Sovereign, the old trail is now a connector to Salt Wash. You'll see "don't climb this" signs facing you at the connector (intended to keep motorcycles from digging it up). I suggest you switch over to Salt Wash to climb over the bluff. 

On your way back, if you dare, you can descend the steep loose switchbacks. Caution - you've got to know what you're doing to clean these turns. If you want to avoid the plunge, a connector takes you back to Salt Wash (see map).

View down the steep stuff. At upper left, there's the continuing trail, and you can make out a connector to Salt Wash heading to the right.

Five different Sovereign Singletrack Ride options:
Easier ride, lariat-shape, stops above Dalton Wells:
0.0   Continue E on road
        N 38 41.876' W 109 39.868', alt=4350
0.1   Fork L on DT
0.6   L on ST as DT crosses wash
        N 38 42.277' W 109 39.485'
1.1   Salt Wash ST crosses, follow blue dots
        N38 42.597 W109 39.431
1.8   Connector, keep R, N38 42.907 W109 39.511
2.5   Connector, keep R, N38 43.247 W109 39.440
3.4   L onto connector N38 43.695 W109 39.378
3.6   R on Salt Wash, N38 43.864 W109 39.590
4.0   Stiff climb onto mesa
        (Consider turnaround here)
4.3   Fork L, N38 43.864 W109 39.590
5.1   Hard R onto Sovereign
        N38 44.083 W109 39.351
5.8   Fork R on connector  N38 43.736 W109 39.527
6.0   Fork L on Salt Wash
N38 43.864 W109 39.590
        (Begin retracing route)
6.7   Fork L on connector
N38 43.864 W109 39.590
6.9   R on Sovereign
N38 43.695 W109 39.378
10.3 Back at parking
Sovereign north, Salt Wash south: 
      See Salt Wash trail page.
Sovereign or Salt Wash northbound, then upper Sovereign to Cedar Mountain loop:
      See Upper Sovereign Loop (Cedar Mountain) page.
Lariat Large Loop (Willow Springs Rd):
Do the best part both directions!
0.0   Continue E on road
        N 38 41.876' W 109 39.868', alt=4350
0.1   Fork L on DT
0.6   L on ST as DT crosses wash
        N 38 42.277' W 109 39.485'
1.1   Salt Wash ST crosses, follow blue dots
        N38 42.597 W109 39.431
1.8   Connector, keep R, N38 42.907 W109 39.511
2.5   Connector, keep R, N38 43.247 W109 39.440
3.4   L onto connector N38 43.695 W109 39.378
3.6   R on Salt Wash, N38 43.864 W109 39.590
4.0   Stiff climb onto mesa
4.3   R on connector N38 43.864 W109 39.590
4.4   L on Sovereign N38 43.736 W109 39.527
5.3   Descend to X-over, altitude 4850 ft
        L and downhill (R=steep Salt Wash)
        N38 44.083 W109 39.351
6.0   Cross Dalton Wells Rd
        N 38 44.154' W 109 39.820', alt=4500
        Follow small wash 0.1, then exit R (N)
6.5   Arrive at open rock, veer L
7.1   Fork after stiff climb, straight (L)
        N 38 44.489' W 109 40.125', alt=4675
        1/4 mile of sand
8.2   R on road
        N 38 44.180' W 109 40.370'
8.6   R at road fork, L at next fork
9.4   Slickrock - head R - no trail markings
10.0 R off slickrock onto L fork Dalton W Rd
        (smallish flat-topped red hill at rock edge)
        N 38 44.448' W 109 39.533'

10.3 Join R fork of Dalton W Rd
        Continue downhill
10.5 L onto original trail, begin stiff climb
16.5 Back at trailhead.
Pipeline Loop (Willow Springs Rd)
0.0   Continue E on road
        N 38 41.876' W 109 39.868', alt=4350
0.1   Fork L on DT
0.6   L on ST as DT crosses wash
        N 38 42.277' W 109 39.485'
1.1   Salt Wash ST crosses, follow blue dots
        N38 42.597 W109 39.431
1.8   Connector, keep R, N38 42.907 W109 39.511
2.5   Connector, keep R, N38 43.247 W109 39.440
3.4   L onto connector N38 43.695 W109 39.378
3.6   R on Salt Wash, N38 43.864 W109 39.590
4.0   Stiff climb onto mesa
4.3   R on connector N38 43.864 W109 39.590
4.4   L on Sovereign N38 43.736 W109 39.527
5.3   Descend to X-over, altitude 4850 ft
        L and downhill (R=steep Salt Wash)
        N38 44.083 W109 39.351
6.0   Cross Dalton Wells Rd
        N 38 44.154' W 109 39.820', alt=4500
        Follow small wash 0.1, then exit R (N)
6.5   Arrive at open rock, veer L
7.1   Fork after stiff climb, straight (L)
        N 38 44.489' W 109 40.125', alt=4675
        1/4 mile of sand
8.2   R on road
        N 38 44.180' W 109 40.370'
8.6   R at road fork, L at next fork
9.4   Slickrock - head R - no trail markings
10.0 Pass L fork of Dalton Wells Rd
        N 38 44.448' W 109 39.533'
10.6 Find R fork of Rd on edge of rock
        N 38 44.224' W 109 39.426', alt=4600
        Turn L, head E along edge of rock
11.4 Fork L (R goes to valley -- m3.5)
        N 38 43.925' W 109 38.860'
12.1 R at 4-way
        N 38 44.015' W 109 38.357', alt=4900'
12.3 Pass pipeline pumphouse
14.8 Pass outbound ST in wash
15.4 Back at parking
Dalton Loop (from Dalton Wells Rd)
0.0   L fork from parking
        N 38 43.584' W 109 40.783', alt=4450
        (Consider R fork 1.1 miles then R on ST,
        to shorten ride by 2 miles, skip some sand)
0.4   Straight up slickrock, L onto road
0.9   DT comes in from L
        Begin looking for ST on R at
        N 38 44.180' W 109 40.370'
2.0   Straight (R) at fork
        N 38 44.489' W 109 40.125', alt=4675
2.6   Veer R on rock, down wash
3.1   Cross Dalton Road, begin climb
        N 38 44.154' W 109 39.820', alt=4500
3.6   Top of climb, R then L on Sovereign
        N38 44.083 W109 39.351
4.2   L, begin descent, becomes hairy
4.6   Keep L on Sovereign
5.7   Connector, keep L
6.2   Connector, keep L
7.0   Cross-over, follow blue dots
7.5   R out of wash on DT
        N 38 42.277' W 109 39.485'
8.0   R on Willow Springs Road
8.1   Straight past parking
8.3   R on DT
        N 38 41.833' W 109 40.094'
    (Alternative: straight to highway, R 1 mi,
     L on Dalton Wells Rd., add 0.4 mile)
12.6 L on Dalton Wells Road
        N 38 43.640' W 109 40.576'
12.8 Back at parking
From the north, Dalton Wells road is 17 miles south of I-70, on your left. Willow Springs Road is exactly 1 mile further south, also on the left. Coming north from Moab, Willow Springs Road will be on your right, 1.8 miles past the junction with Highway 313 (Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point).

Getting there, Willow Springs Road Trailhead:  On US-191 north of Moab, turn east on dirt Willow Springs Road. Keep L at fork at mile 1.3. At mile 2.0, park in the rock-outlined area on your left N 38 41.876' W 109 39.868', just before a natural gas pump building on the R. Start the ride by continuing down Willow Springs Rd.

Getting there, Dalton Wells Road Trailhead:  On US-191 north of Moab, turn east on dirt Dalton Wells Road. As the cindered path turns R, go straight onto the dirt road. Reclose the gate at mile 0.2, and cross the broad sandy wash. At mile 1.7, park at the fork in the road N 38 43.584' W 109 40.783'. The L fork takes you to the top of the trail for the Dalton Loop. The R fork (straight) takes you on ATV track to the junction where Sovereign drops off the bluff, where you can connect to the southern 6 miles of trail.

See the Salt Wash Singletrack  and Cedar Mountain pages for additional info!

Riding Resources:
GPS Track Files (Right-click and "Save as...")
    Garmin      GPX
Track files for upper Sovereign/Cedar Mtn:
    Garmin      GPX
Large-format topo maps:
   Entire Sovereign area
   Lower Sovereign-Salt Wash only 
   Easier Sovereign ride
Printable one-page riding guide
Lodging, camping, shops:
      Links to Moab area resources

Copyright 2003 Mad Scientist Software Inc
Updated 2009