The plan for today was to stick close to Moab and ride in the Sand Flats Recreation Area. Close is right. We ride into town by going north on Spanish Valley road and hang a right on Mill Creek Drive and a right on Sand Flats Road. In a minute or two, no more than 3 miles
from downtown, we're at the entrance station. It's two bucks a head for a day pass. And yes, someone was there to take our money and give us maps.
The Sand Flats Recreation Area is jointly controlled by Grand County, UT and the Bureau of Land Management. It's mission is similar to the La Sal OHV area. From their site:
"SFRA’s mission is to protect the natural features of the area from adverse recreational impacts while providing access to sustainable and enjoyable recreational opportunities."
Awesome. Call your senators, folks, tell them this is how it's done.
Anyway, the place is 9,000 acres of outdoor fun, mechanized or otherwise. Today we're interested in Slickrock trail and Porcupine Rim. Despite its popularity among mountain bikers (bicyclists), Slickrock was created in 1969 by a dirt biker (motorcyclist) named Dick Wilson and the BLM. Today motorcycles are still permitted.
If you ride a dirt bike (or a mountain bike for that matter), I can guarantee that Slickrock Trail is like nothing you've ever seen before. First of all, the rock is not slick, it affords incredible traction with rubber tires, but it was named back in the day because the steel shoes of horses would slip on it.
The rock is actually called Navajo Sandstone and it looks like Mars. The planet Mars. Slickrock trail is a 12 mile adult amusement park. The trail is marked with white paint blazes on the rock and it flows up, down, across and around giant sandstone sculptures bordering two massive canyons and the Spanish Valley.
Riding here can be a little disconcerting at first since the rocks are so steep and the trail often follows the spine, but once you get the feel for the traction, it's surprisingly satisfying. And those views.
After Slickrock and a short break, we continue west six miles on Sand Flats Road to the trailhead of Porcupine Rim.
Porcupine Rim is a more traditional two-track desert trail, but it is by no means routine. It drops in off of the dirt road and follows the canyon's edge with loose and fixed rock of all sizes. It's 11 miles or so to the turn around point - the last few miles are so gnarly, it's closed to anything bigger than a bicycle.
Here, the boys pick up the pace by calling on their Pennsylvania rock skills. There are numerous drops that are exciting to execute on the way out, but turn into challenging step ups on the way back.
We have pbj sammys at the turnaround in the shade of tiny scrub pine and then pick our way back to Sand Flats Road, riding at a slightly slower pace. Some dirt road and we are back at the entrance - dirty, sweaty and smiling. We pass by the trailhead for Hell's Revenge, a popular Jeep trail and vow to bag that before the week's out.
And now for something completely different...