Calling all mountain bike enthusiasts!
Do you want to ride one of the most famous mountain bike trails in the world? You’ve
come to the right place! Starting in the high alpine terrain of the La Sal mountains, the Whole
Enchilada drops almost 8,000 feet to the Colorado river. This ride offers the full range of
conditions: you may be shivering at the top of Burro pass (which is closed in the spring due to
snow) and drenched with sweat a few hours later along Porcupine Rim. The trail transitions from
loose shale near treeline to fast, flowy single track through the sagebrush of Hazard County;
UPS/LPS offer technical sandstone with amazing views of Castle Valley followed by the fast
double track of Porcupine Rim.
The Whole Enchilada starts at the Burro Pass trailhead on Geyser Pass, around 10,500
feet. Four-wheel drive is typically required to reach the trailhead, but many businesses in Moab
offer shuttle service. The route starts with a short but grueling climb from Geyser Pass to Burro
Pass. Riders then descend the steep, rocky Burro Pass trail into aspen groves and across small
streams. At Werner Lake the trail connects with Hazard County, a fast and flowy section of hard
packed singletrack. If riders don’t want to complete the difficult Burro Pass trail or if the trail is
closed due to snow, Hazard County trailhead is an alternative starting point. Finally, mountain
bikers will cross the paved La Sal Loop Road at the Kokopelli trailhead.
This is where the desert riding begins. The path follows the fast doubletrack Kokopelli
trail before turning onto the infamous UPS/LPS (Upper and Lower Porcupine Singletrack). Stop
for a break and snap some pictures of riding along the edge of a 1,500-foot cliff! This is the most
photogenic section of trail, overlooking Castle Valley (where Way to Moab is located!) and the
majestic Castleton Tower. Although the trail is downhill, don’t expect a quick and easy cruise!
The trail is full of slow, technical descents, rockhopping, and drops. All but the very best riders
will have to dismount and walk their bikes for at least a couple sections.
After the strenuous riding of UPS and LPS, riders are typically relieved to emerge onto
the fast Porcupine Rim double track. But don’t relax too much! The last few miles have some of
the most difficult riding on the route as the trail drops over the rim and down towards the river.
Once again, only the best will be able to descend this section without dismounting. When you
arrive at the Grandstaff Canyon campground on the Colorado river, don’t hesitate to jump in!
You will have just completed 27 miles of one of the most spectacular trails on the planet. If you
plan on riding back into town, you can follow the paved bike trail another five miles into the
center of Moab. Just before you reach Lions Park and turn away from the river, look for
Matrimony Spring on your left. You don’t need to filter the water but be careful – they say if you
drink this water you will fall in love with Moab!
A final word of warning: this ride is not for beginner riders. The combination of high
altitude, massive weather fluctuations, and slow, technical riding make it very challenging even
for experienced mountain bikers. If you aren’t sure whether you are up for it, try a shorter section
– each of the trails can be ridden individually, although a few of them require four-wheel drive to
access. If you decide to attempt the Whole Enchilada, plan for it to take much longer than your
typical 30-mile downhill ride. Most riders will need to plan on 3-6 hours. Carry at least 3 L of
water and be able to fix pretty much anything that could break on your bike. The rocky trail
tends to break things that you didn’t even know could be broken, and it’s a long hike out if you have a problem. That being said, this route fully deserves its reputation as one of the best trails in
the world, so don’t pass up an opportunity to try it out!