ok... so this is a small article about the incredible trail we rode over the weekend... with some quality comments on the consequences of mountainbiking's ever growing popularity.
read the article
in my own version, i would describe the trail a little more; it was described to me by someone who had never ridden it and had heard about it from someone else themselves. we found it (quite easily... perhaps a little too easily) this last weekend and i would have to say for how short the trail is, it's one of the most enjoyable single-tracks i've ever ridden. the spur (an out-and-back) forks off from a major jeep trail in moab and right off the bat throws some technical not-too-challenging singletrack at you... leading along a narrow ledge of sandstone that's maybe 3-5 feet off the ground. it spills over a small rock drop into a sandy wash that transitions into slickrock. this type of trade off, trail to slickrock and back, happens throughout the ride. slickrock sections of the trail are not marked, and sometimes finding where the trail picks up again can be a little challenging. the "established" trail sections are thin ribbons about a foot wide cutting a path through cryptobiotic soils, so staying on the trails is a must. it's obvious that the trail has been created or at least improved by bikers... just about every feature of the trail allows you to play; moderate technical drops will lead onto wavy slickrock , small jumps have been engineered into the trial and even the step-up sections of the trail can be ridden smoothly as an air in some spots. the last sandstone bowl before reaching the end of the out-and-back is a perfect session playground, allowing committed riders to get some hang-time on a wall ride that is magazine photo-shoot worthy. I myself topped out at around 10 feet (not too bad for the first real ride of the season), but while we were there, some guy on an 8-inch travel downhill bike was getting insanely high on the wall (about 20-25 feet) after dropping into the bowl from the top of an adjacent dome.
we only rode the relatively well established section of the trail, but for those who are really gung-ho, i believe it's possible to continue the ride out past the turnaround... and seeing a few tire-trails in the distance confirm my suspicions. the continuation requires riders to navigate slickrock bowls and ridges with heavy consequences (i.e. if you fell, you would be very lucky not to break something, or even die). while we were there, it was getting late in the day and we were already tired, but perhaps next time i will push a little further into the trail, which is alledgedly a loop if you can find the way around.
Anyway... enough dreaming about secret trails. be aware of conditions (don't ride if it's muddy!! you will destroy the trail before the season even begins) and be aware of riding in sensitive (access-wise/biota-wise) areas; respect the trails and the issues of riding in undeveloped areas.
...and for god's sake, if you find this secret trail in moab, ride it like you mean it, but don't publish your gps tracks (mine are safely stored for future reference, but you won't see them on this blog, that's for sure).