Moab Local’s Favorite Mountain Bike Trails for Beginners
While Moab, Utah may have a well-deserved reputation for some of the most challenging mountain bike terrain on Earth, recent years have seen the addition of scores of new mountain bike trails built to accommodate riders of all ability levels. Whether you’re new to Moab, new to mountain biking in general, or looking for a relaxed family ride, consider these local-favorite destinations that offer some of Moab’s best mountain biking for beginners.
Moab Brand Trails
View from the Moab Brand Trails
A popular mountain biking spot just a few miles north of town, the Moab Brand trails are a great place to get your feet wet (or dusty, more accurately). While there are several trails in the network better left for more experienced riders, novice riders will find a fun challenge on the one-way Lazy/EZ loop that lets riders get a taste of Moab without getting in over their heads in super-technical terrain—or having to worry about oncoming traffic.
If you’re looking for a step up difficulty-wise from Lazy/EZ, try your hand at the North 40 trail—the terrain is similar, but you’ll find more ups, downs, and bike-handling challenges through the twists, turns, and broken rocks. Make sure to stick to the established route and don’t swerve off-trail to avoid obstacles—there’s no shame in walking a tough section once in a while.
The La Sal Mountains, Utah’s second highest mountain range, are clearly visible from Dead Horse Point State Park.
Beginners will want to start on the trails on the east side of the main park road; the Great Pyramid to Raven Roll loop is a great place to warm up, and you can easily add the Big Chief trail onto your ride to introduce some confidence-building, lower-intermediate rock features into the mix. If Big Chief leaves you wanting more, connect to the west side of the park via Crossroads and try your hand at Whiptail, Twisted Tree, and Prickly Pair.
Dead Horse point is about a 40-minute drive from downtown Moab—to get there, drive north of town 11 miles on Highway 191, then turn left on state highway 313. Follow the road for 14.5 miles before making a left to stay on the same highway (you will see signs directing you to the state park). Another 7.5 miles and you’re there—the trailhead shares a parking lot with the park’s visitor center.
These areas offer a great taste of Moab mountain biking for beginners, and will help newer riders build skills and confidence (as well as their overall enjoyment of off-road riding). Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself daydreaming about your next trip—once you’ve ridden here, you’ll want to come back again and again. For trail maps and other insider knowledge about mountain biking in Moab
Bar M Mountain Biking Trail near Moab, Utah.
To get there, take Highway 191 about 9.5 miles north of town, and take a right on BLM 261. You’ll make another immediate right, then backtrack on BLM 261 for a half-mile before turning left on a well-worn gravel road that leads straight into the trailhead parking lot. In-shape riders who don’t mind adding some pavement miles can also pedal straight from town on the paved Moab Canyon Pathway, which connects to Seven Mile Flat a quarter-mile from the trailhead.
Less than a 30-minute drive from downtown Moab, the Klonzo trail system offers a huge variety of mountain biking for beginners. Most of the trails are relatively short, which makes it easy to piece together loops of varying lengths to match your fitness and bravery levels (as well as easily redirect course, should you find yourself on a trail that’s a bit more of a challenge than you’re looking for). Make sure to bring more water than you think you’ll need—there’s minimal shade out here, and it can get quite hot in the midday sun.
The Klonzo network spans across both sides of Willow Springs Road—the easiest trails are on the south side, while the trails on the north side feature slightly more technical terrain. Don’t be nervous, though—the vast majority of the north side is still rideable by a confident beginner who doesn’t mind dismounting their mountain bike for the occasional tricky section. The entire area is well-marked, with plenty of maps, signs, and color-coded lines designating the route on the slickrock sections of each trail.
To access this trail network, take Highway 191 north of town for just over 12 miles, until Willow Springs Road branches off to the right. Stay on the main dirt road for about 2.5 miles, and you’ll see the main trailhead and parking area to your left. The first lot sometimes fills up—if that’s the case, stay on the dirt road for another quarter-mile or so and you’ll see an additional parking area, also on the left. A word of caution: the dirt road crosses Courthouse Wash, which may have deep, loose sand.
Dead Horse Point State Park
The view from the main overlook at Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the most photographed vistas in Utah.
Dead Horse Point has become a can’t-miss mountain biking destination—the moderate drive away from Moab (and the nominal park-entrance fee) mean it’s less crowded than other popular beginner-friendly riding destinations in the area. The park’s elevation is also about 1,500 feet higher than Moab proper, which keeps the temperature about 10 degrees cooler—a real bonus during the warmer months. However, the elevation and minimal shade makes it easy to get too much sun—don’t forget to apply (and re-apply) sunscreen often.