Monday, June 12, 2017

Moab Mountain Biking: Klondike Bluffs

On our last day in Moab, Dustin Putt and I were going to ride Slickrock.  We were both headed north that day though so we decided to ride the Klondike Bluffs area (Some publications say Klondike Bluffs while others refer to it as Klondike Bluff, even within the same guide.  I'm going to call it Klondike Bluffs for consistency).  Klondike Bluffs is the northern most of  Moab's mountain biking areas. We started at the trailhead on BLM Road 143, about 20 miles north of town.

The Klondike Bluffs area has more than 50 miles of trails according to the MTB Project website and Moab Guest Guide.  We didn't have a set route in mind for our ride but I was interested in riding a loop around the perimeter of the area to hopefully get a good taste for the riding in area.  Signs with maps at nearly every intersection make it fairly easy to make up a route on the fly.  There are many trails within the perimeter to make the ride as short or long as you like.

When we first arrived at the trailhead, my initial thoughts were that the area looked pretty bleak.  There wasn't much to look at from the trailhead.  The area was generally flat scrubland.  Nonetheless we started our ride riding the trails on the western boundary of Klondike Bluffs.  A short warm up on Chilkoot Pass took us briefly through the scrub before heading deeper into the area.

Very barren near the trailhead

Leaving Chilkoot Pass we followed a series of trails continuing along the western flank of the area.  We followed Agate to Jasper to Jurassic.  Compared to the rough and tumble riding on Porcupine Rim, these trails were easy.  The trails consisted of relatively flat and windy singletrack that twisted through the desert.  Although still barren, the area had much more appeal away from the trailhead.  The trail followed along hillier terrain with more scenery and relief in the distance.  The tread and surrounding ground in the area was quite interesting.  At times the soil was light in color and it felt as if you were riding on the moon.  Just a short distance later, the trail transitioned into a red soil which felt like riding on Mars.  Because of the good tread, we made fast time on the easy singletrack.  It was fun to have some flow after riding Porcupine Rim the day before.

Fast riding on flat singletrack early on the ride

The La Sals help break up the barren landscape

Riding on the moon

Riding through boulders

Rocks line the sometimes featureless trail

The terrain gets a little more interesting near the end of Jurassic

The miles added up quickly as we reached the end of Jurassic.  From Jurassic we headed north on Dino-Flow.  Dino-Flow was somewhat more technical with more features than we had ridden so far.  Dino-Flow winds in and around rock features and hits a few sections of slickrock.  The elevation change is minimal along its length. I'd probably call it an intermediate trail although there are a few transitions can surprise you.

Slickrock on Dino-Flow

More diversity on Dino-Flow than the first several miles
we rode

Making my way through rocks on Dino-Flow

Our plan was to split off from Dino-Flow and head to the eastern and northern parts of Klondike Bluffs.  Several trails head this direction but we chose Mega Steps.  Mega Steps was the most challenging trail so far in Klondike Bluffs.  Immediately it began with a consistent climb over mostly slickrock.  The trail has a steep but short drop into a wide bowl of slickrock. After crossing the slickrock the trail climbs away on red dirt reaching it's high point, having gained over 600 feet in less than 2 miles.  From this high point there are some great views across the Klondike Bluffs area.  Beyond Klondike Bluffs the views are far reaching with the La Sal Range nearby, the Henry Mountains to the southwest, and the snowy 12,000 foot peaks of the Tushar Range well to the west.  For anyone interested, there is a hiking only trail accessible from Mega Steps that accessess fossilized dinosaur tracks. I'm guessing Mega Steps refers to the size of these tracks.

Slickrock on Mega Steps

La Sal Range

Making my way up Mega Steps

Nice singletrack after the slickrock

A large slickrock section on Mega Steps

A rare bit of color in the desert foliage

Looking back at the slickrock bowl from high up on Mega Steps

From Mega Steps we continued north on Alaska.  Alaska is probably the most challenging trail we rode at Klondike Bluffs and probably the most impressive.  The trail starts out riding along a high ridge passing numerous outcroppings.  The trail stays high and the great scenery continues.  After a mile or so of rolling ups and downs on nice singletrack, Alaska begins a nice downhill incorporating sections of slickrock.  Much of the downhill follows a ridgeline before dropping in and out of washes.  Although a little rough at times, it's a rather enjoyable descent.

Riding high on a ridge on Alaska

The ever present La Sal Range

View from Alaska

The trail goes between these building size rocks

Fun riding on a high ridge on Alaska

View of the slickrock  on Mega Steps from Alaska

From Alaska we turned off onto Homer.  Following Homer, the descent continues on somewhat rough slickrock.  Homer is less than a mile long and connects with the northern reaches of Dino-Flow.  Although we were already on Dino-Flow, we didn't cover this northern portion.  The northern portion rides nicely and has the same character to the rest of the trail.  We rode Dino-Flow to its junction with Mega Steps.  This time we went downhill toward the start of Mega Steps toward our trailhead.  The last section of riding was a nice coast and spin on the lower part of Mega Steps and a short stretch on BLM road leading us back to our cars.

With helmet head like this, it has to be a good ride

Our outing ended with 17+ miles of riding.  Both Dustin and I enjoyed the riding at Klondike Bluffs.  Dustin even said it was his new Moab favorite.  There was a really nice mix of fast, flowy trails combined with enough technical stretches to keep it from getting boring.  The scenery wasn't as dramatic as some of the other rides but it was quite interesting and far reaching.  There are numerous sets of fossilized dinosaur tracks that can be seen in this area as well.  The trailhead signs and maps show their locations.

Of the four areas I rode in Moab, I'd probably put Klondike Bluffs second behind Navajo Rocks.  The "Classic" Porcupine Rim was probably next, followed by Klonzo.  Klonzo didn't get a fair shot since it was cut short by rain.  In the future I hope to revisit Moab and hit some other trail systems with Mag 7 probably on the top of my list.  While the more technical rides in Moab seem to get more attention such as Porcupine Rim, Mag 7, and Amasa Back area; I highly recommend visiting the intermediate areas such as Navajo Rocks and Klondike Bluffs as well.  They really are fun areas to ride and have good scenery as well as a good mix of riding.  Sometimes it's nice to ride some flow and just cruise on singletrack while not take a beating on nonstop technical terrain.

Nearly every outing in Moab has the lofty La Sal Range as a backdrop
For those that read my blog regularly, this is my last post in Moab from this trip.  For those ready to leave the desert, I have a good dose of alpine mountains and dramatically different scenery coming soon in my next several posts.  While I had a great time in Moab and hope to visit the area again, I am more at home in the mountains than the desert and have a series of blogs just ahead in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

For a map of the trails in the Klondike Bluffs area click the link Klondike Bluffs Map

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