Cycling Across Utah

Hit the State’s Biking Trails for a Thrilling Summer Ride

By John Coon

July 31, 2014

Utah has already built a reputation for having the best snow on Earth. Cycling trails could soon be joining that conversation. From Moab to the Wasatch Front, cycling enthusiasts can find plenty of challenging trails that offer a snapshot of Utah’s natural beauty.

Looking for a starting point for your next ride? Here are some recommendations.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail – Beginning to Intermediate

Cyclists don’t need to travel far from the city to get a first-class cycling trail. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail traverses the foothills above several Wasatch Front communities. It is currently just over 100 miles long and features a mix of paved and dirt trail. Plans for the Bonneville Shoreline Trail call for it to one day stretch 280 miles from Idaho to Nephi.

The trail follows along the ancient shoreline of Lake Bonneville, an inland sea that formed 32,000 years ago and existed until 14,500 years ago. It is easily accessible from Salt Lake City and is a popular destination for runners, hikers and cyclists.

This is an inviting trail for beginning and intermediate bicyclists. Much of the trail rolls over the foothills, so there are not a ton of steep climbs to worry about. A few places have wicked descents, particularly around Dry Gulch, so keep an eye out for runners, hikers and dogs.

McCoy Flats – Intermediate

Vernal may not be the first location to pop into your mind, but it is home to plenty of amazing trails. McCoy Flats is one such place. It is located about 10 miles west of Vernal and features a series of interconnected loops that originate from the main trailhead.

Loops that branch off from McCoy Flats carry an assortment of interesting names like Milk and Cookies, Fire Sale and Slippery When Wet. The McCoy Flats trail system features a mix of rocky ridges and narrow dirt ribbon trails slicing through sagebrush filled terrain. If you hit all the loops in a single trip, you can ride through 35 miles of interconnected trails.

Most of the trails on McCoy Flats feature moderate climbing, which makes it a great destination for intermediate cyclists.

Slick Rock and White Rim – Intermediate to Advanced

No trail is more synonymous with Utah cycling and mountain biking than Slick Rock. This famous Moab trail covers a 10.5-mile loop winding through domes and mounds composed of Navajo Sandstone dating back to the Jurassic Era. Slick Rock features plenty of tough climbing but pays off with spectacular views of the Colorado River.

Besides the main trail, multiple spurs and side trails let cyclists attempt to tame rougher sandstone. Much of the trail crosses over alternating patches of rough and smooth sandstone. Conquering Slick Rock is a hard-earned status symbol, and the trail annually draws tourists from all over the world.

Also in the Moab area, White Rim is a great destination for longer expeditions. This 103-mile loop winds through Canyonlands National Park to the Green River. It features several stiff climbs and access to incredible landmarks like Musselman Arch. Bicyclists can usually cover the main trail in three to four days. Bicycles are prohibited on most side trails jutting off the White Rim trail. 

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