One of the original world-famous mountain bike trails, the unique slickrock slabs provide an otherworldly ride experience


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The first riders in the Slickrock area weren't mountain bikers, they were motorcycle riders and jeepers, and when mountain biking came on the scene in the late 70s and early 80s riders first gravitated to existing hiking trails and motorized routes.

It turned out that the unique slickrock domes provided an incredible, other-worldly riding experience, making it one of the first world-famous mountain bike trails.

For decades riders have flocked from all over the world to ride Slickrock.

While the ride quality is no longer as excellent as the newest singletrack trails that have been built in Moab, it's still a route that all riders need to check off their bucket list, if only for the otherworldly experience. The domes of slickrock prevent any vegetation from growing, and as you ride around the painted loop it feels like you're riding on the moon or another planet.

Without any vegetation, the views of the La Sal mountains and at points, the Colorado River, are jaw-dropping and worth packing your camera for.

Contrary to the "slickrock" descriptor, the rock is anything but slick when it's dry.

(The rock derives its name from its slick character when wet, which doesn't happen often in Moab.) In fact, when mountain bike tires meet rock it is one of the grippiest surface imaginable, allowing riders to power up incredibly steep grades that you'd normally spin out attempting.

It also provides great traction for dropping down near-vertical rock rolls and traversing across the rock slope.

Without any vegetation, you can also ride unique lines that differ from the painted loop--just don't accidentally fly off of a cliff or get lost! Despite being a box that all riders need to check, and despite not having any extended climbs, this trail is not for the faint of heart.

The steep ups-and-downs are strenuous, and the bike handling required reaches the advanced level.

To determine whether or not you're up to the challenge of the full Slickrock Loop, there's a short Practice Loop painted near the entrance.

If you have difficulty on any of the climbs or descents on the Practice Loop, don't continue on--the main Slickrock Loop is even more difficult. Even when the temperature is cool, riding for hours in the direct sunlight can prove draining.

In the late spring and early fall, temps on the slickrock can quickly reach and break 90 or 100 degrees, and mid-summer can be unbearable.

Pack plenty of water and choose your time of day (early morning recommended) and time of year appropriately.