Moab to offer the Whole Enchilada

At the April meeting of Trail Mix, Grand County’s non-motorized trail committee, Moab mountain bike advocates (along with their hiking and equestrian brethren) enjoyed a hearty lunch of enchiladas, publicly sharing what so many mountain bikers have been secretly enjoying for years—the Whole Enchilada.

The trail is a collection of routes which stretches from Burro Pass, at over 11,000 feet, to the Colorado River 7,000 feet below in less than 30 miles. There are a couple of stout climbs along the route, but the ride is basically a descent—except for those few, hearty individuals who have ridden from Moab up to Burro Pass and back home again.

The reason for Trail Mix’s celebration is the final link in the route is finally open. The trail was originally the vision of a handful of local trail pioneers (or illegal trail builders, depending on your perspective), who saw there was a line on the map from the Burro Pass trail at Warner Lake to the top of Porcupine Rim—there just wasn’t a trail.

So they built Hazard County, from Warner Lake to the La Sal Loop Road; Upper Porcupine Singletrack (UPS), from the Kokopelli Trail to Sand Flats Road; and Lower Porcupine Singletrack (LPS) from Sand Flats to the top of Porcupine.

The LPS section was the only part that was legal, and that was by accident. The trail, on Bureau of Land Management property, was on land designated “open”—a rare designation near Moab—which meant cross-country trail was permitted. The trail was just repeated cross-country travel, so it was approved (and the designation subsequently changed).

Hazard County and UPS were more complicated. Hazard flowed (and jumped) through elk calving grounds, and UPS skittered along the rim where a pair of golden eagles, among other raptors, liked to nest and hunt.
The Forest Service rerouted and rebuilt Hazard, opening it last year complete with government-approved stone kickers and berms. That left UPS, which Forest Service officials once promised would never be approved—they didn’t want to be seen as condoning user-created trails.

But they also didn’t want to be seen as stonewalling one of Moab’s main economic drivers. The forest is supposed to provide for a variety of resources, and local forest service recreation specialists understand that recreation has outstripped other uses of the La Sals in that regard.

So they rerouted UPS away from the rim, while maintaining its smooth, flowing lines. About 20 local riders turned out to cut the tread and ensure a rideable result.

As of press time, the Whole Enchilada is open from Warner Lake down. With thin snowpack in the La Sals this year, Burro Pass should be open by summer.

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