A beautiful state located in the western half of the U.S, Utah borders Nevada to the west, Arizona to the south, Idaho to the north, Wyoming to the northeast and Colorado to the east. This location—situated at the crossroads of the desert southwest and the northern
Rocky Mountain States—makes Utah very appealing to mountain bikers, as it offers a variety of terrains for them to explore. In the article below we will highlight five of the more popular mountain biking trails in the state and the various challenges that each of them present.
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1. The Whole Enchilada
Consistently voted as one of the best mountain biking paths in the state of Utah, the Whole Enchilada truly lives up to its unique name, as it includes almost every technical challenge a biker could encounter. The trail, which is located in the town of Moab, begins at 10,000 feet and climbs another 1,400 feet of scenic beauty before arriving at the apex known as Burro Pass. Once there, the downhill thrills truly ensue, as riders make their way through some of the most beautiful wooded forests, creeks and open prairie land. This technical downhill track includes rapid speeds, steep terrains and slippery single track riding, ultimately ending at the mountain’s base and the majestic Colorado River.
Shuttles are available to take riders to the start of the Whole Enchilada, a perk that has led to large crowds of riders (especially on holidays and weekends) looking to tackle the challenges on one of Utah’s premier mountain bike trails.
2. Wasatch Crest
Located in Utah’s capital—Salt Lake City—the Wasatch Crest Trail is one of those mountain biking routes that will truly satisfy riders of all abilities and skill levels. Those choosing to tackle the Wasatch Crest Trail have multiple access points from which to start their adventure, including the Big Cottonwood Canyon, Mill Creek Canyon and Park City starting points, each offering a variety of challenges.
The Park City starting point, for example, is known for its moderate climbs and multiple loop options, while the other two access points will appeal to those seeking a more slippery downhill challenge, complete with rocks, roots and other obstacles. Between the Pinecone and the Crest Connector, the trail is not overly technical but it still supplies a handful of challenges, such as Fakies, and a series of short climbs that punctuate a thrilling downhill descent.
In addition to offering some of the most exciting mountain bike trails in Salt Lake City, the Wasatch Crest Trail also offers some of the most incredible 360-degree views of the Utah basin below.
3. Mid-Mountain Loop
Situated in Park City, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, the Mid Mountain Loop is rapidly earning a reputation as one of the best mountain bike trails in the entire state of Utah. Mid Mountain is an epic and ambitious track that commences in Park City and climbs the challenging Spiro Trail, touching very briefly on the scenic Powerline Trail. From there, the downhill portion of the loop begins, with riders weaving their way down to the Canyon Resort before finishing up on the paved paths known as Farm Trail and Olympic Trail.
The Mid Mountain Loop encompasses approximately 24 miles of dirt and paved roads. From its moderate to difficult climbs to its obstacle-laden, rocky descents, the trail has become extremely popular among riders, due in large part to the many options it affords and the breathtaking views of the mountain and forest terrains.
4. Porcupine Rim Trail
Like the Whole Enchilada, the Porcupine Rim Trail is located in beautiful Moab, Utah and is sometimes referred to as “the other famous classic ride” in the city. At 15.6 miles and requiring expert technical skills, the Porcupine Rim Trail is strictly for advanced bikers in good physical condition. The Porcupine Rim Trail can be ridden one-way (by taking a shuttle) or, for an insane challenge, riders can complete the entire 34-mile loop, which includes 10 uphill miles from Moab to the trailhead and 8 flat miles from Jackass Canyon, in addition to the one-way downhill track.
The Porcupine Rim Trail begins with a three-mile climb up rocky, unstable ledges; a moderately strenuous climb which gains 1,000 feet to an altitude of 6,800 feet. Once at the Rim, be sure to take the time to admire the views of Castle Valley to the north, highlighted by spectacular spires of Wingate sandstone.
The real fun of the trail begins at the top of Porcupine Rim—a primo downhill course exploding with technical challenges, including countless rocky ledges and three miles of single track on the edge of death-defying cliffs. From the Rim, riders will drop 2,700 vertical feet to the Colorado River, encompassing over 11 unforgettable miles.
5. Gooseberry Mesa
Located in the town of Hurricane, Utah, Gooseberry Mesa is a world-class trail that regularly attracts some of the finest mountain bikers in the world. The trail presents a series of technical challenges, with rolling slick-rock, twisty single track, and some of the most magnificent vistas on the planet.
Recommended for moderately-skilled to advanced riders, there are several different ways to ride the Gooseberry Mesa Trail, and all are definitely worth the trip. The trail is marked with white paint dots on the slick-rock and signs at all of the junctions. It is a difficult trail, but there are no surprises; if you don’t feel comfortable riding a section, you can simply walk it instead.