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UFO Trail

The UFO mountain biking trail is part of the Klondike Bluffs system. This trail is a connector between Baby Steps South and Little Salty. You reach it via other trails in the system. I recommend this trail as part of a 12-mile lariat loop (described below), or as a bypass when riding the Baby Steps Loop.

View of the UFO Trail as we descend toward Little Salty, with the Blue Hills area to the west. Ride description and photos April 5, 2012 by Bruce.

UFO is 1.6 miles long. There's no overall elevation change between the two ends. Up-and-down riding creates 150 vertical feet of climbing when riding either direction. UFO is one of the easier trails in the Klondike system. Most of the trail is easy technical and easy aerobic, but in the middle of the ride there are a couple of switchbacks on a short-but-stiff climb that beginning riders will have to walk.

We're just getting started on the 12-mile lariat loop (see below). This is the Dino Flow trail. Easy so far.

UFO is about half dirt singletrack, with the remainder split between smooth slickrock and not-to-tricky rollover rock. As of April 2012, the dirt sections are very soft because the trail is new and hasn't had time to compact. This will make the short climb over the ridge hard, whichever direction you ride the trail.

We've reached the junction with Baby Steps and are climbing uphill on slickrock.

 

Most riders will use UFO as an alternative (bypass) when riding the Baby Steps Loop counterclockwise. The classic Baby Steps Loop drops steeply off the escarpment to the east on dirt road, then heads north in the valley on flat jeep road before climbing back up. UFO replaces all that jeep road with singletrack.

After the slickrock climb, there's a short but boring stretch on doubletrack. Now we've reached the Baby Steps Singletrack and forked to the right at the sign. This is signed as expert tech, but it's not that tricky.

Another great ride using the UFO trail is a 12-mile lariat loop incorporating the first part of Dino Flow, then Baby Steps south uphill, UFO, Little Salty downhill to EKG, and the southern end of EKG southbound back to Baby Steps before returning to the trailhead. This ride is advanced technical because of the Baby Steps Singletrack sections and EKG. There's 1350 feet of climbing. Good riders can easily knock this ride out in two hours. The photos on this page are from the lariat ride.

On a slickrock ramp after the second ST section (Baby Steps itself is going left to right in this photo), we reach this trail marker. That's UFO on the hillside above the bike, heading back downhill at the trail sign.

On the south, UFO forks to the left when riding Baby Steps uphill. The connection is at mile 5.3 from the trailhead on the classic Baby Steps route, mile 5.5 if you took Dino Flow to Baby Steps. The connector is exactly 0.2 miles from the spot where the second Baby Steps singletrack section rejoins the doubletrack. You'll see a purple circle painted on the slickrock. Loop to the left and you'll see the trail sign.

The first mile of UFO is mostly smooth slickrock, first descending gently, then climbing slightly.

When riding south-to-north, UFO starts with a short section of dirt singletrack (which many riders simply bypass by coasting down the slickrock). It then descends west on slickrock in a shallow wash before turning northeast on a gentle slickrock climb.

Handlebar view as we climb up the broad slickrock area.

There are occasional views to the west tward the Blue Hills area. The first mile of the ride is very easy and is mostly smooth flat slickrock.

View from the trail to the west.

At mile 1 of UFO, you have to climb up and over a dirt ridge. This is the only tough part of the trail. It's only modestly steep, but the switchback turns are fairly tight. If the dirt is loose (as it was April 2012), you may find it impossible to spin up and around. With some soaking rain and more bike tires (or some rock slabs placed on the trail surface), you may find these turns doable.

We're reaching the end of the smooth slickrock. We'll turn west and ride up and over a dirt ridge.

After descending the north side of the ridge, also through a couple of tight loose turns, you'll come to a short section of rollover rock. This is the only techy section, but there's nothing too tricky. Here the trail descends toward the Little Salty wash.

Looking back at a climbing turn. The approach had six inches of powdery dirt. But it's a new trail. It will firm up. 

The trail hits Little Salty in a rock washbottom, just uphill from where Little Salty breaks out onto the escarpment and begins descending more steeply. If you're doing my lariat loop, turn hard left downhill.

(If you're riding the altered Baby Steps loop, veer to the right uphill. Climb Little Salty 1/2 mile to the junction with the classic Baby Steps loop. Fork left uphill on the doubletrack. More climbing ahead.)

Up and over the ridge, then descend through soft turns on the other side.

Back to the lariat ride. You've forked downhill on Little Salty. Ride the advanced tech rolling sandstone surface downhill 1/2 mile, then fork left on EKG. (For an easier return, keep going downhill on Little Salty. When you reach Dino Flow, fork left to follow Dino Flow back to the main Klondike doubletrack.)

Heading downhill toward Little Salty, rolling over humps of rock.

You'll spend 1.7 miles southbound on the technical rock of EKG. When you reach the trail sign, you're back at Baby Steps South. Turn right downhill. Descend to Dino Flow and turn left to complete the ride.

Looking south at the fork between UFO and Little Salty. From here, uphill takes you to the top of the ridge where you can join the doubletrack section of the Baby Steps Loop. Our ride takes us downhill on Little Salty.

Riding notes, 12-mile lariat loop:
0.0   Cross cattleguard, east on Klondike DT
         N38 46.418 W109 42.735
0.8    DT splits, take ST in middle (Dino Flow)
         N38 46.998 W109 43.072
1.9    R uphill on Baby Steps South (DT)
         N38 47.590 W109 43.556
2.2    Junction w EKG, keep straight uphill
         N38 47.746 W109 43.287
2.7    R off DT onto ST
         N38 48.018 W109 42.880
3.5    Fork L (R=to Klondike)
         N38 47.957 W109 42.584
4.0    L on ST
         N38 48.286 W109 42.690

View down Little Salty as we descend.

5.3    Back to DT, L
         N38 48.398 W109 42.772
5.5    L to ST UFO
         N38 48.495 W109 42.905
7.2    L downhill on Little Salty
         N38 48.778 W109 43.581
7.7    L on EKG
         N38 48.589 W109 43.925
9.5    R downhill on Baby Steps
         N38 47.746 W109 43.287
9.8    L on Dino Flow
          N38 47.590 W109 43.556
11.0  Back at fork, straight onto DT
         N38 46.998 W109 43.072
11.8  Back at parking
 

We're on EKG, which features advanced tech up-and-down riding. Fun stuff. When we reach Baby Steps, we've completed the loop section of the lariat ride.

And here's the UFO itself, courtesy of Gene Poncelet...

Getting there: 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. Go eastbound across the cattleguard through the fence and begin your ride.

Note: Map color-coded to show named trails individually. Does not correspond to described loop above.

 

Northern Klondike TH:  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. 1.2 miles from the highway as the road is heading east toward the bluff, fork right on a fainter jeep road N38 49.103 W109 46.061, as the main road continues to the dinosaur tracks. (Park here if the road is in bad shape.) 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. At 2.0 miles, you're at the bottom of Mega Steps at a larger parking area N38 49.179 W109 45.417. Ride Copper Ridge south to Baby Steps to connect to UFO.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide, 12-mile lariat ride
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
   GPX Klondike area trails 
   UFO only    Lariat loop Baby Steps ST to UFO w EKG return
   Altered Baby Steps Loop w UFO bypass
High-res topo for printing (500 KB):  View 
Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to Moab area resources

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