Friday, April 10, 2015

KlonZo Trail System - Moab, UT

After meeting up with our friend Chris the night before, at our buddy’s house in Salt Lake City, we made the ~3.5 hour drive to Moab for the start of our vacation. The first thing on our agenda was to establish basecamp, with our target location being Granstaff CG, located near the end of the Porcupine Rim Trail. We had planned to meet the rest of our crew there, who would be coming in from all over the country and as far away as Florida. When we got there we found the campground completely full, but luckily we were able to snag a small site from a group that was just packing up to leave. Unfortunately, the site was not nearly large enough for our full group, but we figured it was better than nothing. With that, we decided there wasn't much we could do about the situation at that point in time, so we figured we’d set-up our sleeping quarters and get in a quick ride before it got too dark – “Hell, we were in Moab to ride!”

Knowing that we would only have a few hours, we decided to get in a warm-up ride at KlonZo, a brand new trail network that was specifically built for mountain biking. Looking over the map, it appeared to mostly consist of blue rated trails, with a couple greens and blacks thrown in for good measure. It was made up of a bunch of small trail sections and loops, similar to the nearby Brand Trails, which I had enjoyed as a warm-up the last time we were in Moab. Our goal was to link as many of the blue & black trails as we had time for, starting at the parking area that was furthest up Willow Springs Road.

The KlonZo trail map, which can be found here

Since we had already changed at the campsite, it didn't take much time for us to gear up and head out on our ride, which we started by climbing up a short bit of road to the upper Houdini trailhead. Jumping onto the Houdini trail, we found a slickrock playground all to ourselves. As is typical with the slickrock riding in Moab, we were guided by dashed lines that had been painted onto the sandstone -- this helps people from getting lost as well as keeping them along a narrow path to mitigate environmental impact. Although the trail itself wasn't overly difficult, it certainly provided enough technical challenge to keep us entertained, especially being our first day of riding in Moab. As we followed the dashed lines in a clockwise direction, the trail alternated between short ups & downs until it finally reconnected back to where we had parked the car.

Startin' it off!

Slickrock landscape, as far as the eye can see.

Chris drops down one of the many small descents 

Typical Houdini landscape

Emily, liking it so far!

More drops

There were some small patches of sand along the way, but nothing too large

Since we had only ridden about two miles, we were far from done and headed back up the road once more, only this time we’d be turning left onto Zoltar. Much like Houdini, the trail crawled along the bleached sandstone slickrock alternating between short ascents and descents, although generally staying at the same elevation.

Chris, towards the end of Zoltar

Eventually the slickrock gave way to singletrack that was cut into the red dirt landscape, which contrasted greatly with the light colored slickrock. This also brought us to the end of Zoltar, where we continued north, this time on the Borderline Trail. This trail alternated between dirt and slickrock until it tee’d into Wahoo, a mere .75 of a mile from where we had gotten onto it. Although the Wahoo trail created its own little loop, we’d only be on it for a short distance as we made our way towards Gravitron, the trail I was most curious about.

Great view of the La Sal range -- Chris approved!

Gravitron, which is a directional downhill only trail (in a counter-clockwise direction), started off innocently enough with a smooth and fast dirt section. Very quickly, the trail then snaked its way down through a small draw with well armored berms at each turn in the trail. Shortly below this, it traveled across a large slab of slickrock, where Chris found a nice little rock-drop to boost off of. At the other end of the slickrock the trail crossed a pipeline road and made a short climb before descending a longer/uninterrupted section of glorious dirt singletrack.

Chris drops into Gravitron

Kickin' up dust

Finishing up a series of well armored turns

One of the few technical sections on Gravitron 

Desert flowers made an appearance from time to time

More fun turns and great views

Great sight lines on this trail as well -- certainly better than what we get in Oregon.

Some cool rock formations on Gravitron as well 

Givin' chase

At the end of Gravitron, a gut-busting climb brought us up to Vertigo, which we took a right on and were almost immediately presented with some great views out to the west. After the trail wrapped around the hillside and just below a large and precariously balanced boulder, it threaded its way through a rock field and across a wide open area, eventually dead ending into Secret Passage. As we were looking over the map to determine where to head next, we saw a couple riders off in the distance and soon discovered it was Pete & Arthur, the first two we’d meet-up with from our larger crew. It had been many years since I’d seen Pete and a few years since I’d seen Arthur so it was great to briefly catch up before joining forces for the remainder of the ride.

Hope that rock holds...

Emily navigates through a rock garden toward the end of Gravitron 

After discussing options with Arthur, who had ridden at KlonZo a few times before, we decided to do a quick lap around Dunestone before starting to head back to our car. Dunestone ended up being a really fun loop, traveling around a slickrock mesa with lots of small technical challenges along the way. We had also planned to add in a lap on Boondocks, right next door, but fading daylight and energy levels convinced us otherwise.

Making our way around Dunestone

We ended up heading back on Zoltar, before dropping onto Redhot, a trail we hadn't ridden yet. This one was quite different from the rest of the trails that we had ridden —you could really build up some speed and there were lots of fun dirt jumps along the way. I was having so much fun that I really didn’t want to peel off of it to detour back to our car. Since Pete and Arthur had parked further down the road, we bid them a farewell, knowing that we’d be catching up with them again later. A short spur trail dumped us right back to the parking lot, bringing an end to our first ride of the Moab trip.

Headed back on Zoltar

Arthur, starting off the fun section of Redhot 


Typical trail surface on Redhot 

Riding the snake

Saying goodbye to Pete and Arthur

The KlonZo mountain bike area is a fantastic new trail system which provided a great first ride and warm-up for Moab! Similar to the nearby Brand Trails, it’s a collection of small trail segments that can be combined to create an almost limitless variety of ride options. I actually find the KlonZo area to be a bit more entertaining than the Brand Trails, having both better scenery and terrain – of course this is very subjective and opinions may vary.

During our ride, Arthur had mentioned that some of the trails we had ridden were brand new, including Gravitron, which was my personal favorite. This gives me hope that they will continue to expand the network and give us even more of a reason to head back the next time we come to Moab.

The tracks from our ride:

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